47. Crater Hill

Pukaki "Lagoon" (left), Kohuora Park (upper right) and Cemetery Crater (obliterated, but lower right)

Crater Hill (centre), Pukaki “Lagoon” (left), Kohuora Park (upper right) and Cemetery Crater (obliterated, but lower right)

Crater Hill is one out of the box. Thousands of people pass it each day on the Southern motorway but how many know of it’s existence? The name Crater Hill may not be thaaaat original (that’s like calling a volcano Ash Hill) but it adequately describes what it is: A crater inside a hill.

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(Excuse my non-existent panorama skills)

We called this our “Middle Earth” for it’s awesome, untouched, other-worldly quality. It sure was a sight to behold and we felt privileged to see it. Part of it is still a working quarry 😦 so the gate was wide open, not that we took that route.We took only photos and left only footprints, so no harm done.

North slope of Crater Hill seen from Tidal Road

North slope of Crater Hill seen from Tidal Road

We’d just been to Pukaki Lagoon and were finding our way through the back blocks of Papatoetoe when we caught sight of our next destination and I just had to pull over and snap a picture.

 

The dumping tree

The dumping tree

We found the end of Portage road, yes, that busy link road with all the businesses, yeah, it ends here. Maybe someone lives here or maybe it’s just a convenient place to dump stuff? It is pretty shady though and we ourselves loitered in the shade before tackling the hill, which is more of a gentle slope really.

The ascent started from under the dumping tree

The ascent started from under the dumping tree

Trig and water tower

Trig and water? tower

Conquered! We made it :-)

Conquered! We made it 🙂

Okay, okay, enough of the sight-seeing, lets talk about the actual volcano. For starters, that Island in the middle of the lake is actually a heap of basalt boulders, not dumped there by humans but the remnants of a crust that solidified then crumpled in on itself when the underlying lava drained away. There was a cone of scoria built up on the Eastern edge but this has long since been flattened by quarrying. Size wise, it’s pretty impressive, the tuff ring measuring about 800 metres in diameter.

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There's a cave somewhere in there

Caves, maybe?

There are supposedly a couple of caves in the basalt on the south side of the lake. Selfs lava cave named for a prominent family in the area after which, I presume, nearby Selfs Road is also named. And Underground Press lava cave which you can read about on the radionz website. As the NZ Herald reported on 5 September 1940 “The chance adventures of three boys led to the discovery of a duplicating plant and communistic literature in a deep cave on a farm about three miles from the Papatoetoe township.” Yes, the Communist Party of New Zealand had been forced to take their People’s Voice publication, quite literally, underground.

Aeroplanes: a typical sight from the many South Auckland volcanoes.

Aeroplanes: a typical sight from the many South Auckland volcanoes.

 

38. Maungarei/Mt Wellington

Visited on 14 & 15 February 2015 because once around this crater was not enough (actually, I’d forgotten to charge my camera battery)

This was my Volcanic Valentine 🙂 and a special one it was too. It was quite the happening spot on Valentine’s afternoon. Couples strolling and picncing everywhere.

Stonefields Archaeological Reserve is just left of centre and Kartsport Mt Wellington in upper right (Thanks Google Maps)

Stonefields Archaeological Reserve is just left of centre and Kartsport Mt Wellington in upper right (Thanks Google Maps)

Mt Wellington was quite the spewer, it’s lava basically filling the valley of the present day Ellerslie-Panmure Highway. It stretches from a little tongue in Glen Innes across to the Great South Road at Penrose, turns Southish and reaches slightly into the Manukau Harbour.

Approaching Mt Wellington from the aptly named Mountain Road

Approaching Mt Wellington from the aptly named Mountain Road. These pine trees were planted after 1967 when quarrying of the Southern slope was stopped.

Maungarei, Maori for ‘the watchful mountain’ is co-named in English as Mt Wellington after the Duke of Wellington.

Entering the domain. Almost past the point of no return. One-way traffic only -Phew!! As it gets pretty narrow in places.

Entering the domain. Almost past the point of no return. One-way traffic only -Phew!! As it gets pretty narrow in places.

Both times I drove to the car park, found a shady tree to lunch under then ascended the stairs behind the car park.

Finally got my hands on some liquid gold and what better place to taste for myself what all the LRC hype is about?

Finally got my hands on some liquid gold and what better place to taste for myself what all the LRC chocolate milk hype is about? In the background: Purchas Hill and the new Stonefields subdivision created in the hole left by what was Auckland’s biggest quarry.

Upon cresting the hill the relative peace was broken by the zooming of go carts from nearby Kartsport Mt Wellington driving home the point that we are in NZ’s largest City and not some isolated little spot in the country. From the crater rim I could also see aeroplanes regularly taking off and typically heavy Auckland traffic rumbling through well worn arteries.

Male yellowhammer hopping along the crater rim track

Male yellowhammer hopping along the crater rim track

Maungarei is pretty barren in terms of tree coverage so I didn’t expect to see any birds of note but I did manage to spy a yellowhammer and further on a hawk circling in the air currents rising from the crater.

Looking to the North-West across the crater from the South-East

Looking to the North-West across the crater from the South-East

 

Panmure Basin as viewed from the Southern side of Maungarei's cone

Panmure Basin as viewed from the Southern side of Maungarei’s cone. I thought this would be my next volcano to visit but ended up going to Purchas Hill first.

Once you reach the top of the stairs it’s a fairly leisurely stroll mostly downhill back to the car park. The South side of the crater is the highest point so naturally there’s a trig point and there’s also a significant landmark location guide which is worth stopping at if you’d like to get your bearings.

Rangitoto, the Northern cone and main/central crater

Rangitoto Island, the Northern cone and main/central crater

 

The reservoir installed in the Northern crater

The reservoir (flat rectangle) installed in the Northern crater

 

Looking to the South-East. See the same tree as in picture #

Looking to the South-East. Note the same tree as in picture #6 of this post

 

Juxtaposition central!

Looking West from the lowest point on the crater rim it’s juxtaposition central! Industrial, grasslands, rock face, wetlands, residential, volcano slope and Stonefields Archaeological Reserve (the raised, brown, triangular patch on the left) all mashed together.

 

A mysterious hole

A mysterious hole

 

Cow-pat bombs fused together

Cow-pat bombs fused together

 

Is it just me or does this ash layer look like the Puma logo?

Is it just me or does this ash layer look like the Puma logo?

 

The rabbit track I followed down from the "gorilla head"

The rabbit track I followed down from the “gorilla head” viewed from the reservoir

 

The crater floor as viewed from the reservoir

The crater floor as viewed from the reservoir

 

Starling on a row of basalt boulders on the way out of the domain

Starling on a row of basalt boulders on the drive out of the domain

 

Maungarei viewed from College Road/Purchas Hill

Maungarei viewed from College Road/Purchas Hill

I recommend this walk for… well, I just recommend this. It’s a surprisingly stunning walk and pretty easy-going. I feel my photos don’t really do it justice so I encourage you to put this one on your list and go experience it for yourself! Pack a cool drink though as I found it rather scorching even on an overcast day.

26. Three Kings/ Te Tatua a Riukiuta

Visited on 29 June

I guess I wasn’t expecting too much fun here. It is, after all, basically a dog park. I was wrong! This is a very cool place and most definitely worthy of a wander. The birds I met here were really tame and would let you come quite close before flitting away.

Once upon a time the three kings volcano bore the stately profile of the three kings of biblical renown who wisely brought gifts to the boy Jesus. It has the largest explosion crater (almost 200m deep and 800m wide) of any volcano in the AVF which can easily be seen from above & approximately bordered by Mt Albert, St. Andrews and Landscape roads, Duke St, Scout and Simmonds Avenues. Now only the second highest of the peaks remain, called Big King and we have the Wesleyan Native School to thank for preserving and donating it to the government for future generations of Aucklanders (that’s you and I) to enjoy.

First I tried parking down a side street but I couldn’t find the accessway that should’ve been there, and not being one for rummaging in people’s actual gardens (even if just by accident) I decided to head back to the main carpark and found a park! It looks bigger on the map but it’s really not. I even found mountain-goating up the side of the hill to be easier than the actual path coming back down.

The red circle (I've been reading too much Sherlock Holmes) to the grey circle via the most direct route (as a ground crow would fly)

The red circle (I’ve been reading too much Sherlock Holmes) to the grey circle via the most direct route (as a ground crow would fly)

Take note of the prominent water tower on the summit overlooking the free roaming dog area

Take note of the prominent water tower on the summit overlooking the free roaming dog area

A natural stepping stone to nowhere

A natural stepping stone to nowhere

A pit beside a beaten track

A pit beside a beaten track

Almost at the top -see the water tower?

Almost at the top -see the water tower?

That tree covered rise beyond the houses is Landscape Rd

That tree covered rise beyond the houses is Landscape Rd

When the volcano erupted there was a strong Southwesterly blowing so that the ash and airborne lapilli built up in a ridge on the Northeastern side of the vents, some ash reached as far away as Remuera (which can’t even be seen from here) and covered parts of One Tree Hill up to 3metres thick. This is Landscape Road, quite steep, I’ve driven up it.

And now, since we are in a dog park it’s only fitting that I should start writing about a cat, a very specific cat known to the Internets as ‘Grumpy Cat’, real name: Tardar Sauce. This poor darling of internet meme stardom wears a perpetually grumpy look on her face due to feline dwarfism.

Meet our brush wielding hero, Mt Roskill resident ‘Anonymous Person’ who painted a topical, ironic typically Grumpy Cat which was removed by Watercare who cares for the reservoir perched on Big King which contributes to the water pressure of some 5000 houses in the area. But because “dealing in public art is outside the company’s operations” the disgruntled kitty had to go the way of all previous artwork -smothered by a lick of dull grey paint.

The original article as it appeared in Stuff:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/8731423/Grumpy-cat-gets-rubbed-out

followed by a change of heart maybe? (I bite my tongue and refrain from saying it may be a watershed decision. Maybe a landmark one, who knows?)

http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/central-leader/8877555/Grumpy-cat-may-smile

Grumpy Cat Inspired Artworks

See? Not the first artwork to be inspired by this particular sourpuss.

And the reason I mention all this? I managed to catch a glimpse of something not many others will have… and took a photo to prove it.

This artwork is likely to stay in place longer than the portrait of the cat it commemorates.

This artwork is likely to stay in place longer than the portrait of the cat it commemorates.

Right! Enough feline introspection and back to the view…

Looking southish there is a sports field inside the maar (blast crater) and houses built right up to the edge (not to mention the ones inside it!)

Looking southish there is a sports field inside the maar (blast crater) and houses built right up to the edge (not to mention the ones inside it!)

Mt Roskill behind the new motorway

Mt Roskill behind the new motorway

Peering through the trees I'm rewarded with an unusual view of Mangare Mountain

Peering through the trees I’m rewarded with an unusual view of Mangare Mountain

Mt Albert. Little did I know it at the time but that was my next volcanic destination despite pointing my car in the direction of Mt Roskill.

Mt Albert. Little did I know it at the time but that was my next volcanic destination despite pointing my car in the direction of Mt Roskill.

The Sky Tower and Mangawhau/Mt Eden (and one awfully packed Mt Eden Rd -seriously, don't even think about getting anywhere fast around mid day Saturday)

The Sky Tower and Mangawhau/Mt Eden (and one awfully packed Mt Eden Rd -seriously, don’t even think about getting anywhere fast around mid day Saturday)

This was my lunch time view: sunny Saturday salmon sushi time!

The fissured rocks and rubbly ground behind the water tower

The fissured rocks and rubbly ground behind the water tower

Because I just can’t help myself from taking more pictures of rocks. The rocks on this mountain are really quite something. Like old castle walls the rocks all fit together, but dislodge one and the others around risk crumbling into the gap (so I always make sure to put it back).

This would be really quite lovely in Spring when the cineraria comes into bloom.

That rubbly rock just loves to slide down and make it's presence felt on the path

That rubbly rock just loves to slide down and make it’s presence felt on the path

Purposefully sticking to the main walking track coiling downwards I noticed a track leading off to the right, so in the interests of discovery I was compelled to follow it -just to see where it led. It would, I believe, ultimately end up at the shopping mall. I didn’t get that far but instead took the opportunity to peer into the working quarry.

Little piles of sand in the Southernmost quarried out smaller king

Little piles of sand in the Southernmost quarried out smaller king

Toy diggers busy at play in the scoriacious hollow

Toy diggers busy at play in the scoriacious hollow

Even though I headed back to the car this journey was not over yet. I had one more place to visit: Liverpool Street.

Layers of ash can be seen nearby on Liverpool Street where the road was cut through

Layers of ash can be seen nearby on Liverpool Street where the road was cut through

Earthshakes after the layers of ash settled form these slumpy lines.

Earthshakes after the layers of ash settled form these slumpy lines.

The other end is literally weathering away. Such a pity really.

The other end is literally weathering away. Such a pity really.

And because I now write this at the end of all my posts: yes, there are toilets (at the main carpark), although I didn’t even notice them at the time.