Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Manukau Harbour

Auckland CBD is built between 2 enormous natural harbours: Waitemata to the north and east , Manukau to the south and west. We completed the coast to coast walk fairly recently between the two which is only about 18kms. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve discovered more about the area around Manukau Harbour visiting 2 of the Auckland Regional Parks adjacent to it. The harbour itself is really shallow and roughly 20 kilometres square in area. A while back we visited Whatipu and climbed up to the top of North head overlooking the fairly narrow mouth of the harbour.

Island on Brooks Bay

Awhitu, 4 March
This is a long peninsular extending northwards at the far westerly side of Manukau Harbour. From the map we imagined the area to be pretty flat but in fact it was extremely hilly, with very pretty green farmland. The road ran along a central ridge for a large section and it was possible to see across to the the Pacific coast on one side and Manukau Harbour to the other. The Awhitu Regional Park is on the harbour side and includes some farmland settled back in the 1860s by the Brook family. There’s also some wetland and a couple of white sand beaches. We walked around a large pond spotting kingfishers and scaring the pukekoes, then had lunch on a piece of high ground looking across the width of the harbour spotting Auckland’s volcanoes, the Waitakeres and the Hunua Range in the far distance. It was a clear day and you could just spot the Sky Tower. There’s a tiny island in the middle of the Brook’s Bay which we walked out to. It’s a perfect island in miniature with a Nikau palm tree, a pohutukawa, and a Norfolk pine, three trees which are very emblematic of Auckland. We drove further round to the top of the peninsular to see Orua and Wattle Beaches, both much closer to the mouth of the harbour; Orua white sand, Wattle black, reflecting the black sand beaches on the west coast which we were much closer to now, nearing the head of the harbour.

The biggest tree on the Brook's homestead

Ambury 11 March
Has to be a shorter Sunday outing than usual as Mike’s playing in his 7-a-side football tournament this afternoon. Bit of a drizzly day but we set off to Ambury Park which is by Mangere Bridge on the eastern side of Manukau, on the way to the airport. The park is pukeko heaven though I’ve not been quite so keen on them since reading in the local news the other day that they’d attacked a man and left him bleeding. The park has an area devoted to farm animals for kids to pet but it is mainly a working farm, with the foreshore is open to walkers and bird watchers. Mangere Domain is nearby with its sides clearly terraced for the cultivation of kumara by the early Maori settlers. All of Auckland’s volcanoes are important Pa sites for the Maoris as they are easily defendable, and kumara pits and terraces are visible on most of them: the kumara (sweet potato) being their staple diet. Mangere is a relatively recent volcano. It erupted 16,000 years ago and covered this area with a thick layer of black scoria, so it’s rather similar in places to the surface of Rangitoto, with the black volcanic rock contrasting dramatically with the white sea shore which is made up primarily of sea shells. We see stilts and masses of oyster catchers, but not the migrating birds we expected to see.  

The champions, Cunningham Lindsay 7-a-side team. Note the minimum 3 girls: part of the NZ sub-football rules

Mike returns triumphantly bearing a medal as his team won the league trophy. This spells the end of Monday night football so he’s taking up tennis instead. Isn’t this the wrong way round? I mean with Summer officially over here now, shouldn’t the football season be about to start not finishing? Rather typical of New Zealand, where everything is different, upside down, back-to-front, and opposite to what you expect. The water going down the plug hole the wrong way round is really only the beginning.

1 comment:

  1. As always loving the photos and seeing how it varies over there to here. Looking super healthy too! Must be all that sunshine and New Zealand air! Love reading your updates on life down under. :o)