7. Onepoto Basin/ Te Kopua o Matakerepo

Visited 2 January 2013

Maori for “the short beach”, it’s Auckland’s oldest volcano and used to be home to… you guessed it -a short beach. The base of the crater is 61 metres below the current ground level. Sediment shows that before the salt-marsh and mud-flats were drained in the 1950’s it used to be a fresh water lake, much like big brother Pupuke is now.

Onepoto Domain is situated between Tuff Crater to the north and Onewa road interchange to the south

Onepoto Domain is situated between Tuff Crater to the North and Onewa road interchange to the South

I was a bit tired after already having walked around Tuff Crater (and back) but decided a stroll in a greener place would be worth it and I wasn’t disappointed. This turned out to be more a tour of birdlife than volcanic landforms (you have been warned!).

I took the small path off Exmouth road. There’s an official proper sign with a map and everything but nothing much else to indicate it might be anything more than a vacant lot until part way down the slope…

The old sign

The old sign

I continued walking sideways on a grassy slope for a while thinking to myself “Mum would hate this uneven ground and no path”, then stopped to snap this picture…

First official glimpse of the basin floor (behind me) and a lonesome puriri tree

First official glimpse of the basin floor (behind me) and a lonesome puriri tree

I came to a fork in the path and headed off to the right to follow the banks of a stream to a little copse (that’s just typical me seeking shade again). Found a wee bridge to cross.

Talk about getting your ducks in a row!

Talk about getting your ducks in a row! Or does life imitate art? Does the song “5 Little ducks went swimming one day” ring any bells?

Had a bit of a look-see at the waterfowl around the lake. Mostly just ducks and such.

White-faced heron hunts lunch

White-faced heron hunts lunch in the shallows

I then headed out to the main entrance off Sylvan Ave/Tarahanga street, just to see what it would look like for most people arriving at Onepoto Domain. Pretty nice, as it turned out.

Are these not the most decorative pedestrian path protectors you've ever seen? Art Nouveau influence perhaps?

Are these not the most decorative pedestrian path protectors you’ve ever seen? Art Nouveau influence perhaps?

A little further round, past the car park, there is a playground for children that is a cut above the ordinary. It was getting a thrashing from about 30 children today, so no photos. It features all the fantastic stations expected of a modern playground plus more. “More” being a flying fox type thingĀ  and a scooter/bike cycle path with centrelines and roundabouts. Teach them how to be traffic aware and road safe at a young age. Yes, please!

Who knows the road rules?

Who knows the road rules?

 

Give way to Pukekos

Give way to Pukekos

 

Look! There goes one now

Look! There goes one now

I startled that poor pukeko well and good when he was just going about his business of foraging in some reeds in a ditch. He gave me a good idea: I left the play area behind and continued my counter-clockwise walk around the upper slopes of the basin floor. Before long I found the small track leading off to the right. I passed a few backyards, a clearing and then found myself in “bush” or more like under-brush. This part of the walk felt the most deserted of all. I could pretend, for a moment, that I didn’t live in NZ’s largest city, that I wasn’t in fact passing the overgrown backyards of well-to-do suburbia and that the sea was nowhere near.

Almost overgrown

Almost overgrown

I continued following the trail and was grateful when it became a mini board-walk. I say mini because if I had met someone walking the other way there most likely would’ve been muddy shoes, as the ground was getting rather squelchy underfoot.

A fledgling fantail was squawking about in the undergrowth demanding food, then with it’s stomach appeased it set about roosting with it’s folks on a high up twig. It was sooo cute to see this little family of fantails, about 6 of them, all squished together like a giant fluffy caterpillar balancing on a branch.

All good paths must come to an end. *Sniff*

All good paths must come to an end. *Sigh*

After a while of peacefulness the path started to rise and I could glimpse the same hi-vis orange fencing I saw when I entered the park and knew my journey would soon be ended. But not before trying to photograph a monarch butterfly flitting about -yeah-nah, that didn’t turn out at all well but I did hear a noise in the trees behind me and spotted this tui quenching his thirst.

Camo tui looking like a leaf

Camo tui looking like a leaf

This is a great place for children (but maybe not babies or toddlers due to all the water). My only regret is that I never got to take my nephews here whilst they were still living in Auckland.

8. Outhwaite Park (Grafton Volcano)

Visited on 4 January 2013

Outhwaite Park Flower Beds

Outhwaite Park Flower Beds

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Outhwaite Park (Grafton volcano) is the volcano nearest my work (in fact Auckland Hospital is founded on a base of basalt bedrock from this very volcano/actually just perched on the opposite side of this long lost crater), so near in fact that I decided to visit there after work one fine sunny afternoon. The place is just a section worth, a pretty decent section -a few acres perhaps.

A little bomb resting on lapilli

A little bomb resting on lapilli

There are mature oak trees, a garden complete with dedication plaque and playground. The only clue as to what lies beneath is the russet dirt and a few scoriacious pebbles scattered around the base of the oaks.

I will give the council the benefit of the doubt and say it was just after New Year celebrations.

I will give the council the benefit of the doubt and say it was just after New Year celebrations.

It was nice place to duck into and out of the hustle and bustle of Grafton/Newmarket but I personally will always favour the Auckland Domain just across the road.

Mt. Hobson in the near distance.

Mt. Hobson in the near distance.

From the back of this park there is a view through the trees of a large green hill which looks to be in walking distance (it was! and only about 30 minutes away). I used my fancy new phone to tell me it was Mt Hobson… then off I went…

Looking back at the second entrance/exit from the back of the park

Looking back at the second entrance/exit from the back of the park

Recommended for if you want to find a playground only a two minute walk on level ground from Auckland Hospital

6. Tuff Crater (Tank Farm)/ Te Kopua o Matakamokamo

2 January 2013

Thanks GoogleMaps

Aerial view (Thanks GoogleMaps)

Like Onepoto Domain across the way, Tuff Crater is also filled with diverse birdlife but unlike Onepoto I didn’t really expect that, I mean, it’s so open and isn’t it just a mangrove swamp? Read along and let me prove that wrong!

I don’t know how many times in my life I’d passed right beside this volcano and not known it was there (I suppose it would be in the thousands). All you can see from the road is what looks like a tidal estuary full of mangroves and The Warehouse Ltd headquarters.

View from State Highway 1 (Thanks Google streetview -because no one takes photos whilst driving.)

View from State Highway 1 (Thanks Google streetview -because no one takes photos whilst driving.)

Once I realised this place is actually a volcano I was relieved to find there appeared to be a walking track in places. For the full experience, I decided to park my car in Heath Reserve at the end of Exmouth road. There were no signs yet but I figured it was just a matter of turning left and cutting across the grass as many had obviously done before.

A path in the grass

A path in the grass

I rounded the bend and stopped to read the Forest & Bird signpost taking note of the invasive plants to look out for and wishing that the proposed footbridge was already in place.

Looking across the "neck" of the crater to The Warehouse Ltd HQ with Takapuna's Sentinel in the background

Looking across the “neck” of the crater to The Warehouse Ltd HQ with Takapuna’s Sentinel in the background

 

The second of many path shots

The second of many enticing path views

I heard this tree all a-twitter before I got close enough to see what all the commotion was about.

A pear tree + a flock of starlings = avian heaven

A pear tree + a flock of starlings = avian heaven

 

Tide on the way out, maybe?

Tide on the way out, maybe?

It’s a straightforward easy walk and flat for the most part. Just follow the path and you can’t get lost. The it’s mostly gravel except where the ground is prone to get boggy.

The board walk at the foot of Bailey's Reserve

The board walk near the foot of Bailey’s Reserve

 

A pair of Eastern Rosellas

A pair of Eastern Rosellas

Now we hit the new path: some gravel dumped in a line (Auckland City in the distance)

Now we hit the new path: some gravel dumped in a line (Auckland City in the distance)

I’d made it all the way around on the flat and now was really wishing there was a bridge here but since there wasn’t, I decided to take a slightly different way back. I turned left again to see how far up The Warehouse slope I could go. All the way as it turned out. I rounded some bushes and gave a pukeko the fright of his life as he squawked and flew straight up to land in a manuka tree.

Obligatory Sky Tower shot

Obligatory Sky Tower shot

 

Looking back into the crater you can see the main drainage channel (tall tree on the right towers above the new stairs)

Looking back into the crater from up near The Warehouse you can see the main drainage channel

I continued ambling along on the ridge for barely 5 minutes when I came across the top of a newly installed flight of stairs. A bit further along is where I think the old storage tanks used to be and the origin of the alternate name of Tank Farm. I took some quick photos then descended the stairs and found they joined up to the same path I’d been on only minutes earlier.

A few minutes from the steps I heard a rustle in the bushes and stopped to listen. I crept closer… and closer. I heard a peep-peeping sound. I saw a flash of tawny-grey and tiny bundles darting through the thick undergrowth. I’d kept birds in an aviary before and I knew these mystery birds were a covey of Quails -but what kind? I leaned in closer, didn’t see the ditch, and may have tripped and got myself covered head to toe in biddy-bid, velcro weed seed pods. I never found out what kind of quail they were as they were strangely quiet after my performance. I suspect they were Californian but those of you with keen eyes should walk this track and see for yourself.

Lonesome Lobelia clinging on for dear life

Lonesome Lobelia clinging on for dear life. I should’ve uprooted it but I didn’t have the heart to. I’ve no idea where it came from as there was nothing like it around.

 

A pair of Diamond Doves

A pair of Diamond Doves

 

Cul-de-sac at the end of St Peter's Road

Cul-de-sac at the end of St Peter’s Road (about half way round on my way back)

Look closely and you will see these poles frame Mt Victoria in the far distance.

Instead of returning to my car I decided to exit Tuff Crater at Bailey’s Reserve which would take me up to Exmouth road and on to my next conquest: Onepoto Domain.

Looking North-East down through Bailey's Reserve and out across the mangroves (thanks Google street view)

Looking North-East down through Bailey’s Reserve and out across the mangroves (thanks Google street view)

I would recommend this walk for anyone wanting an easy walk on an unpaved surface. There is a very basic play ground at Heath Reserve consisting of 3 swings, a slide and a see-saw. Also at Heath Reserve is a pedestrian access to Shoal Bay. One of those major signs spanning the motorway is actually a bridge. There’s not much room to do anything on the other side but you could dip your toes in the water if the tide was in, which it wasn’t for me. I did see something I’d never considered before: Shellfish living in a tree. Oysters casually hanging out in a mangrove tree.