34. Orakei Basin

Visited 31 January 2015

Entrance to to walkway down by the boat ramp

Entrance to the walkway down by the boat ramp

At first glance this might just seem like a flat walk around a lake. But take more glances and you will see there is more to this walk than meets the eye. Firstly, theres the real steep section up to and down from Lucerne road (consisting of quite a number of stairs going up and, if it were possible, even more coming down), then there are hints in places of the volcanic origin of Orakei Basin like near the Northwestern edge, just below the pa site, the stratification of ash layers has been exposed beside the walking path.

Near the top of the steep walking track by the pa site

Near the top of the steep walking track by the pa site

Then there are the grassy slopes of Kepa road on the Northeastern side, prime real estate with amazing views you might think, but no, there is a reason the hills support cattle and not houses. Here the ash blanketed the slope but didn’t form a tuff layer so any heavy rain is more than likely to cause land slips.

Typical water-edge with rocks at the start of the walk (near the stone wall)

Typical water-edge with rocks at the start of the walk (near the stone wall)

I did this walk a little differently than I expected to by starting out from the carpark and heading in a counterclockwise direction but before going very far at all I came upon the aforementioned path leading up to the pa site. So, of course, I had to go up and investigate…

From there I wandered down to Shore road to see something of interest from my next planned volcano visit (Little Rangitoto). There is a lovely newish boardwalk around the mangroves to avoid busy Orakei road so I took that and came across some art installations by the local children. I crossed the busy road to a path which quickly lead down to join a boardwalk alongside the railway line.

Looking down on the cycle/footbridge from Orakei road

Looking down on the cycle/footbridge from Orakei road

Now I was circumnavigating the Basin in a clockwise direction and at quite a good pace until I was distracted watching the wake boarder and terns diving into the wake.

A view from the bridge beside the rail line looking South(ish) to the footbridge crossing the creek.

A view from the bridge beside the rail line looking South(ish) to the footbridge crossing the creek.

A little further around the path winds through a patch of bush before descending to a footbridge bridge spanning the creek? There the remains of some fallen pines provide a perfect perching spot for a bunch of shags.

Shag roosting post

Shag roosting post

The Kepa road slopes to the Northeast

The Kepa road slopes to the Northeast

Looking at the edge of the basin from the footbridge

Looking at the edge of the basin from the footbridge

Crossing the bridge I was immediately faced with a seemingly never-ending flight of stairs and part way along there is a time capsule (or something?) buried here. The stairs do eventually end in the cul-de-sac of Lucerne road where I crossed the road only to descend back down to water level again. Even in the height of Summer I found these shaded steps to be slippery.
So many leaf-framed views like this

So many leaf-framed views like this

Happy Summertime memories were made here I'm sure

Happy Summertime memories were made here I’m sure

The track is virtually waterfront from the water ski club back to the carpark. I came across many pretty vistas framed by trees and most houses on the rise above have their own private access join with the main track. Part way around there is a sculpture called ‘Strata’ that child-me would’ve climbed.

'Strata' Balau hardwood 1986-87 Peter Nicholls A gift of the family of John Gellert

‘Strata’
Balau hardwood
1986-87
Peter Nicholls
A gift of the family of John Gellert

I saw a surprising number of bird varieties. Flocks of silvereyes, flitting in the bushes whenever the path went through a patch of undergrowth. Greenfinches and goldfinches making the most of the self seeded grasses beside the railway. A few blackbirds and thrushes fossicking for tasty morsels in the leaf litter. One thrush was perched on a branch so close that I didn’t see it until we were eye-to-eye and staring at each other (I’m not sure who got the greater fright).

The Sky Tower can even be seen from the East side (get your magnifying glass out)

The Sky Tower can even be seen from the East side (get your magnifying glass out)

Gazing across the flat waters of Orakei Basin I can see why it’s the perfect place for the Auckland water skiing HQ. The Orakei sea scouts also have their base on the shore near the boat ramp & carpark. NOTE: there will be road works in this area to stabilise and upgrade the road to the boat ramp from mid February 2015 for about 16 weeks.

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