49. Ash Hill

Visited 28 February 2015

Ash Hill truck park. We visited the green space by the Oak Road cul-de-sac

Ash Hill truck park. We visited the green space by the Oak Road cul-de-sac (Thanks Google Maps)

There’s a little irony behind the name of this volcano; first of all it’s not a hill, the swampy, mud-filled crater being about 30 metres below ground level. I usually talk with such passion about the volcanoes of Auckland but I’m pretty sure my friends wondered why I was taking them to a litter-filled industrial area. Much like Styaks Swamp, this is definitely one to just tick of the list. It’s not your Sunday afternoon picnic kinda deal.

It took me 5 seconds maximum to climb to the top of Ash Hill

It took me 5 seconds maximum to climb to the top of Ash Hill

View from the top :-)

View from the “top”

This shallow crater spent only a few decades as a recognised and recognisable volcano before it was flattened by industrialisation. It is thought that the site has no Maori name and was first called Ash Hill after the nearby Ash Road but, get this, the road wasn’t named for volcanic ash but originally for a row of ash trees growing there!

Slight grassy slope of

Slight grassy slope of Ash “Hill”

Truck park from the (top) of Ash Hill

Truck park from the “top” of Ash Hill

Signs of an explosive past are all around us -we just have to notice them. These volcanic rocks are on Ash Road

Signs of an explosive past are all around us -we just have to notice them. These volcanic rocks are on Ash Road itself

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.

18. Te Pou Hawaiki

Visited on 18 May 2013

What can I say? There is no longer any volcanic cone here. Sadface. A century ago it only stood a measly 5 metres high anyway but what did it do to deserve the destruction that came it’s way (and sadly, the way of far too many other volcanic cones in the Auckland Volcanic Field)? At least there are still some remnants of it’s past life as a bona fide volcano (oh yes, did I forget to mention that after suffering the indecency of being reduced to nothing but a hole in the ground the hole is now plugged with a multi-level car parking structure?). See the boulders on the left of the photo below.

Enter the College of Education car park for this volcanic experience

Enter the College of Education car park for this volcanic experience

No Parking -volcanic rocks excepted

No Parking, volcanic rocks excepted

I suppose it is wise use of an otherwise awkward space

I suppose it is wise use of an otherwise awkward space