City explorer discovers hidden gems
Each weekend as walker Helen Wenley steps out of her front door she discovers trails right under her nose she never knew existed.
The author has been uncovering Auckland walks for the past four years with her friend Grace Haden, and has been writing about them on her website and in a series of books.
‘‘There are always hidden gems you never knew were there, I’m surprised all the time,’’ Ms Wenley says.
‘‘When you’re driving you don’t notice what’s there, but you discover an entrance to a walkway and suddenly your whole world is opened up.’’
The pair has documented more than 100 routes so far and more than 900 people have subscribed to their website.
It all started when they grew tired of walking the same path around One Tree Hill and decided to see what else Auckland had to offer.
Now each weekend is spent trying out new routes across the city.
‘‘We’re having so much fun. Each weekend is like a mini holiday and adventure.’’
The urban explorer grew up bushwalking in Australia before taking up walking and cycling in the English countryside when she moved to London.
Her family settled in Auckland in 1989 but she struggled to find walks suitable for her young children to enjoy.
‘‘Walks are great for family bonding but my daughter would always complain about the hills and found she was getting left behind.
‘‘I couldn’t work out how long walks were going to be, so it curtailed our walking.’’
She makes sure to mention the length and difficulty of each walk, as well as highlighting parks, playgrounds, public toilets, dog- friendly areas, picnic spots and attractions. The potential to spend an hour or so walking through central Auckland and the inner city is often overlooked, she says.
‘‘Some urban walks can make you feel like you’re in the Waitakere Ranges.’’
Loops through Oakley Creek and Westhaven are among her favourites. Sometimes the pair get ‘‘misplaced’’ but they always find their way home, she says.
‘‘Both of us have got a sense of curiosity and adventure so we don’t get worried about getting lost.
‘‘But we do sometimes disagree about the direction.’’
Urban explorer: Helen Wenley uncovers and writes guides to walks in Auckland.