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.

28. Mount Roskill/Puketapapa

Visited on 29 June

This volcano I was sure would be amazing -the aerial shots of it are rather striking. Maybe it’s because I didn’t properly conquer it (just drove to the top and barely circumnavigated the cones) but I found it kinda boring and a little bit creepily isolated. There’s no definite point of interest and no pedestrian path beside the roadway yet there were enough people coming and going (in their vehicles).

Near the entrance. Interesting subjects for linear perspective vanishing point

Near the entrance. Interesting subjects for linear perspective vanishing point

I had no end of trouble trying to find this one -far out, the jolly thing isn’t even called Mt Roskill on the map but some Winstone Park in honour of the last European fulla to have owned it but who so kindly gave it to the council in 1928 to be a recreation reserve. My journey started out at Three Kings and went via Mt Albert (& Unitec) and just as I was driving down Dominion rd towards it, had it in my sights and everything, I had to go and turn right a few metres too early and ended up on the West bound on-ramp of the North Western motorway. Not to worry, volcanoes are round and I have a good sense of direction so I didn’t even need to stop and check a map but decided I would approach it from the other direction. Even knowing it was coming up and being in the correct (left) lane, I still had to make a last minute swerve to avoid the beckoning gulf of that dreaded on-ramp looming up ahead.

Steepness! On the all too common boulder-lined drive.

Steepness! On the all too common boulder-lined drive.

Finally I was on Winstone Park Domain soil! But still in my car and not wanting to be in the way I just sort of pointed my car forward and drove up the hill and when I reached a safe place to park, I got out and had a wee wander. It’s Auckland from another point of view, on a lovely clear late afternoon.

The hairy mop of Mt Albert silhouetted against the setting sun. Aaaaand that New World supermarket on Stoddard Rd gets fresh goat meat in every Tuesday.

The hairy mop of Mt Albert silhouetted against the setting sun. Aaaaand that New World supermarket down on Stoddard Rd gets fresh goat meat in every Tuesday.

Sky Tower & Mangawhau/Mt Eden (and my little blue car)

Sky Tower & Mangawhau/Mt Eden (and my little blue car)

This North facing view is taken from the highest point on the South side accessed by a short track and over a stile & another tiny track -it’s pretty obvious once you’re there. Mt Roskill was named by Alexander Kennedy, the first European to give Puketapapa a name, after Roskhill in Scotland but was sometimes known as Mt. Kennedy in the 19th century. In pre-European times there were two shallow craters on the summit and earthworks & pits round about but that all pretty much went when the water reservoir was installed inside the craters -yeah, the flat tops ain’t natural, surprise, surprise.

Industrial art (or some geo-survey marker thingy and a signal tower of some sort)

Industrial art (or some geo-survey marker thingy and a signal tower of some sort)

I confess that I do not know the significance of this rock plonked by the entrance. I thought there might’ve been some plaque or description on or nearby but I could see none. Maybe it’s as simple as “Hey! this mountain used to be a fire-spewing, rock-chucking volcano so just you look out, you”. And please appreciate the length I went to to snap this for you. You can’t tell but I’m basically perched on ledge 2metres high and one wrong move & I’d be sprawled in the traffic. Don’t tell Mum! (Hi Mum, just checking that you read my blog -you know I’m pretty nimble on my feet and trust my climbing instincts ay?)

The random rock of importance.

The random rock of importance.