City ex­plorer dis­cov­ers hid­den gems

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

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.

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