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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

9. Ohinerau/Mt Hobson

Visited on 4 January 2013

I met this cat on a hot basalt wall whilst making my way up Macmurray Road

I met this cat on a hot basalt wall whilst making my way up Macmurray Road

Mt Hobson is named after Captain William Hobson who was the first was the first Governor of New Zealand and co-author of the Treaty of Waitangi. This is the first mountain he climbed in Auckland. The Maori name is Remu-wera (from which the name of the suburb Remuera has been derived) meaning burnt edge of the skirt referring to an incident in the 1700’s when a young woman from Hauraki was killed and eaten at the pa near Dilworth College. Prior to this the mountain was called Ohinerangi meaning the dwelling place of Hinerangi.

2015 Edit: In September 2014 this Maunga was given the official Maori name of Ohinerau (goddess of whirlwinds) as part of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Tamaki Makaurau Collective.

Some boys had been playing a game of cricket in the vacant section

Some boys had been playing a game of cricket in the vacant section

Just south of Newmarket, the closest entrance to Mt Hobson Domain was through a vacant section on Dilworth Ave -there was a turnstile and a fairly well-beaten track through the grass so I figured it was ok.

View from where I'd walked up looking out over the Southern Motorway and Macmurray road

View from where I’d walked up looking out over the Southern Motorway and Macmurray road

At 143 metres high it’s quite a visible volcano seen from the South Western Motorway and as such the northwestern slopes are often used by vandals. The flat-top appearance is not natural but merely the roof of a water reservoir installed in 1935

Mt Victoria, North Head and Rangitoto Island with Hobson Bay in the centre, bounded by Tamaki Drive and the Eastern rail line

Mt Victoria, North Head and Rangitoto Island with Hobson Bay in the centre, bounded by Tamaki Drive and the Eastern rail line

Even though it’s Summertime the grass is still fairly green and long, being fluttered about by a fresh breeze rippling up the slopes.

The Trig

The Trig

Isn’t this picture so vibrant and full of movement and energy? I tell you those clouds were fairly scudding and the grass was whipped into a frenzy of its own. We also seem to be on a flight path here and elevated so unusually close to the aeroplanes as they take off.

Looking down into the U-shaped crater (from the bottom of the U). One Tree Hill way off in the distance and Mt Saint John peeking round from the right.

Looking down into the U-shaped crater (from the bottom of the U). One Tree Hill way off in the distance and Mt Saint John peeking round from the right.

Mt Hobson has a U shaped volcanic cone from where the lava busted through the southwestern side of the scoria cone.

A couple of kumara storage pits nestled near the top

A couple of kumara storage pits nestled near the top

The mountain was used by the Maori as a Pa site and evidence of this can still be seen in the kumara storage pits, which I managed to locate even with the long grass flowing every which way.

My shelter bush

My shelter bush

Much as I do like the wind I seized this bush off the beaten track as an opportunity for a few minutes of peace. You can see it growing lopsidedly in the face of the prevailing wind and the difference either side is remarkable. I felt completely isolated on the mountain top and really thought I was until a jolly dog came gambolling along hotly pursued by his master.

Geodetic Survey Mark

Geodetic Survey Mark

The well worn track along the ridge evidencing Mt Hobson's volcanic origin...

The well worn track along the ridge evidencing Mt Hobson’s volcanic origin…

...where I literally stumbled across this flattened spheroid little bomb

…where I literally stumbled across this flattened spheroid little bomb

Descending down the well kept tracks on the northern side I came across this old Morton Bay fig tree and imagined how boys used to climb and play in it’s branches living the carefree life then growing up and joining the army, going off to fight in World War Two and never returning to their special tree.

The lovely old fig tree -pity about the graffiti

The lovely old fig tree -pity about the graffiti

This is how far I can run in nine seconds using self timer

This is how far I can run in nine seconds using self timer

Overall I was really impressed with this one… Interesting shape, variety of plantings, volcanic boulders scattered here and there, retaining a mostly natural feel, stunning views over all of Auckland, just enough height to feel you’d done good for the soul but not overwhelmingly steep. “All obstacles in life are mere opportunities”. One of many memorial benches Recommended for many memorial seats to rest and drink in the views and also the daffodil display in Spring (I think I’ve found an excuse to return).

Rustic sign calling me back in the Spring

Rustic sign calling me back in the Spring

3. Takarunga/Mt Victoria

Visited 15 December 2012

Mt Victoria with Mt Cambria Reserve on the right. The Devonport power station is the large building opposite Cracroft Street

Mt Victoria with Mt Cambria Reserve on the right. The Devonport power station is the large building opposite Cracroft Street (Thanks Google Maps)

Takarunga can be translated as ‘the hill standing above’ and at 87 metres above sea level, it’s easily the dominant feature on Auckland’s North Shore much like the reign of Queen Victoria (for whom the mountain was named) in the great age of industrial expansion.

Apologies in advance if my photos here seem a bit overexposed. My camera made friends with the sea water later on today as I was going around North Head. It’s a long story but I’m lucky that I have any evidence to show for this little outing at all!

NZ flag proudly flying over a typical garden sanctuary inspired by the volcanic landscape

NZ flag proudly flying over a typical garden sanctuary inspired by the volcanic landscape

We parked on Church street opposite Cracroft street intending to take a short-cut up the side of the hill. However, finding no obvious short-cut and foolishly passing not one, but two roads on the right, we found ourselves on King Edward Parade (aka Devonport waterfront) with no mountain in sight. I figured if we just kept taking right turns we should end up where we actually wanted to go. At some point along Mays street our destination loomed in to view. We turned left onto Kerr street and then right past Devonport Primary school. We’d had a good warm-up before tackling the slope ๐Ÿ™‚

Shortly we came across this lovely restored villa and stopped to read the information board.

The track behind the Michael King Writers Centre

The track behind the Michael King Writers Centre

It being a rather hot day we opted to take a short-cut under some shady foliage which effectively cut off the loop in the road. It’s just as well we did or we wouldn’t have found this…

Discarded shells in the ground

Shells buried in the ground now exposed via erosion -evidence of a past Maori pa site

After joining back up with the road for a bit we saw a track through the grass up on the right and being all adventurous of course we took it! It quickly led us up to the top and to… a car park. Who knew that we could’ve just driven here? Now I got all snap-happy and took all kinds of photos, some of which have since mysteriously disappeared, but maybe not that mysteriously.

Auckland City looks so nice from here

Auckland City looks so nice from here

I can see my work from here! Mangawhau/Mt Eden is behind Judges Bay/Ports of Auckland. There's even a Fullers Ferry departing the Devonport wharf for the Auckland waterfront.

I can see my workplace! Mangawhau/Mt Eden is behind Judges Bay/Ports of Auckland.

Evidence of Takarunga's volcanic past. Looking East to Maungauika

Evidence of Takarunga’s volcanic past. Looking East to Maungauika

 

Looking East to Maungauika across Devonport Village from the paved roof of the bunker on Takarunga's South-East slope. Look out! There's a bit of a drop.

Looking East to Maungauika across Devonport Village from the tar-sealed roof of The Bunker on Takarunga’s South-East slope. Look out! There’s a bit of a drop.

 

Takapuna's iconic Sentinel behind one of Takarunga's iconic toadstool vents

Takapuna’s iconic Sentinel behind one of Takarunga’s iconic toadstool vents

There’s a grid of 18 similarly decorated vents… There’s a story behind why they are painted red with white polka dots. I can’t remember where I read it but it goes something like this… One night, under the cover of darkness, an artist (or vandal as it was first suspected) painted the normally plain air vents in their now distinctive red & white toadstool fashion. The following morning it brought a smile to the faces of the locals. The council was quick to paint out this vandalous act but soon it happened again; the fresh white paint was mushroomified and the balance of whimsy was once again restored. This happened a few times. Most people agreed it was a pleasant “disguise” for the vents so the council left the mushrooms alone. But the story doesn’t end there. The Mt Victoria mushroom vents became something of a local icon so then the council became responsible for their upkeep.

This from Watercare’s own website: “Watercare is preparing to refurbish the mushroom air vents on the Mt Victoria water reservoir… The โ€œcapsโ€ will be repainted using the same red and white pattern, while the โ€œstemsโ€ will be painted a light cream colour. Work is set to commence… and is expected to take about a month to complete.”

Rows of "Toadstools" on Mt Victoria (Thanks Google Maps)

Rows of “Toadstools” on Mt Victoria (Thanks Google Maps)

In the circle on the left is the “disappearing gun” installed in 1889. The structure on the right is now fully automated signal station there to guide ships from the ports of Auckland out of the harbour.

Just in case you were wondering

Just in case you were wondering

 

Some welcome shade looking North-West towards Ngataringa Bay

Some welcome shade looking North-West towards Ngataringa Bay

From the top we could see the approximate location of where my car was parked so decided to slide down the hill in that direction. Yes, butt slide! SO. MUCH. FUN!!! Apparently its a thing to do on Mt Victoria as evidenced by the flattened boxes discarded at the base.

Looking back at the track I made on the North-East slope

Looking back at the track I made on the North-East slope

Once composure was regained a track could be seen heading off to the right so, of course… we followed it. And when another track zig-zagged off to the left and down some steps… we followed that too. It came out at the end of what looked to be a driveway but when we followed it down we ended up on Church Street mere metres from where my car was. Metres I tell you! I don’t know how I missed that one. It’s definitely a strike against my observational skills.

Signpost reads: Flagstaff Lane (no exit) Walkway to summit

Signpost reads: Flagstaff Lane (no exit) and
Walkway to summit (Thanks Google Streetview)

Oh yes, prior to it’s “Victoria” name Takarunga was called Flagstaff Hill

This is where we parked to get as close as possible to Mt Victoria -hahaha!

This is where we parked to get as close as possible to Mt Victoria -hahaha!

The Devonport power station has a history all of it’s own. It was built it the free classical style around 1915, had a bit of a rough start so was closed in 1928 to be used as a welfare kitchen in 1932/3 then spent the majority of it’s years as a laundry but has subsequently been converted into apartments. You can look here if you want to see how the inside has been developed in recent years.