44. Waitomokia/Mt Gabriel


Image credit to National Library of NZ

I knew I was in for a look see around a winery which was a bit awkward seeing as I don’t drink wine but this place is wonderful: an oasis of viticulture in a desert of industrialisation.

Mt Gabriel

Entrance to Villa Maria Estate from Montgomerie rd (right) and eastern slopes of Pukeiti (left) (thanks Google)

This was a fairly quick stop that didn’t involve much effort on my part, it was basically my afternoon tea break my 4th volcano for the day to be followed by Mt Eden. I started by taking photos from Oruarangi road on the northwest side of the tuff ring. But first I turned my camera northwest to Puketutu Island across the Manukau Harbour.


Harrier hawk in flight above the Manukau Harbour

Obviously I respected the No Entry sign and didn’t go any further but I took some photos of the tuff ring from here. Oh yeah, there used to be 3 rather large (~30m high) scoria cones and you shall see a little later what is left of them.


Naughty Agapanthus being all invasive


Oruarangi road runs along the top of the tuff ring here


Remains of tuff ring can be seen looking east from I H Wedding & Sons


I knew weddings were held here!

Now around to the front of the Estate.



Might look well protected but I saw a pukeko duck under the netting to reach up and pluck a few grapes



First glimpse


In other words, turn left


Looking over barrels to the slight hill in the northwest

I didn’t take a photo of them but just along from the barrels here were the best toilets I’ve encountered on my whole volcanic journey and not just because I was well in need of a rest stop. They’re quality AND clean.


One of the best chai lattes I’ve ever tasted


View from my table looking east


Fake Harrier Hawk


Looking southeast to the tuff ring

Fortified by my hot drink I braved the drizzle and chill to follow this dead-end road up to the top of the tuff ring.


Standing near the top of the tuff ring behind Villa Maria

After that I drove back out and along Montgomerie road and spotted a few things I’d missed in my haste to enter the winery.


Volcano waz here


Beauty and the Beast (hiding just behind the scoria mound)


I’m surprised there’s actually any scoria left


Looking west from Montgomerie road through a break in the trees to Puketutu Island

This would be a great volcano to visit if you didn’t want to get sweaty from walking but just want to bask in volcanic ambience. Villa Maria run guided tours of the winery at 11am and 3pm each day.


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