My Favourite Walk: The Auckland ten kilometre walk
My favourite walk in Auckland City is around Tamaki Drive at the Auckland Harbour foreshore, the route used for Auckland’s annual 8.4km “Round the Bays” fun run. It starts from the Central Business District end at Quay Street in early March, also the less known Ironman in January.
For most of the 10km walk there are no side streets, so you don’t have to rubber neck and hesitate looking out for motorists as you would when crossing side streets of inner Auckland City.
But one of the best things about the walk is the one-kilometre markings placed at the centre of the footpath. This was a 2005 Rotary Club of St Johns and Auckland City Council project.
While some of the markers are easier to see than others, they are not hard to find by looking out for them after walking for about eight minutes. You can use these markers in several different ways, such as measuring your walking time per kilometre between each marker and trying to get your speed up, if you think your walking speed is a bit slow, or to just walk as far as you like.
You could start at one end and do the complete 20km return, or if you have walked a long distance and feel so worn out you cannot take another step, you can hop over to a bus stop on the other side of the road to return to the start place.
Do watch out for traffic when crossing as it can get busy at times. There are not many pedestrian refuge islands in the middle of the road on Tamaki Drive and you will not run out of fingers counting the number of electronic pedestrian crossings, unless you are at the Central Business District end of the walk.
Don’t forget sunscreen on hot sunny days when the tide is in. The sun reflects off the water and burns your face. When there has been a spring tide on a windy day, I have seen seawater that has been pushed up the storm water drains onto Tamaki Drive between the 3rd and 4th markers: a reminder that with global warming the sea level is rising from mountains melting ice.
My only criticism is that drinking fountains are unevenly placed along the 10km walk. So as you walk out from the city, if you don’t get a couple of mouthfuls of water between the 3rd and 4th km markers or if you miss the drinking fountain outside the Okahu Bay bathers changing room just after the 5th km marker, your mouth could become very dry on a hot day by the time you have walked another four kilometres into Kohimarama or on to St Heliers Bay.
I like walking empty handed and I think I am developing a early geriatric phobia. I hate drinking out of plastic bottles unless I really
have to. While a lot of sports dedicated cyclists ride on the road around Tamaki Drive, the more safety minded causal cyclists have use of half the footpath nearest the road on the 10km route. I have clocked up hundreds of kilometres walking around Tamaki Drive and had a lot of cyclists go past me and I have never had an issue sharing the footpath with cyclists.
While you are walking around Tamaki Drive you might see ships coming or going. If looking at the odd ship gets you excited, then prior to the walk you might like to print off the arrival-departure list found on the internet. Just go to a search engine such as Google and put in something like “Auckland shipping schedule”. You should come up with an URL such as the two below: http://www.poal.co.nz/shipping_cargo/schedules.htm http://www.poal.co.nz/shipping_cargo/expectedarrivals.asp Ships do not come or go at exactly the scheduled time and may vary from about an hour before a scheduled arrival, with some passenger ships up to half an hour after a scheduled departure or they may even leave early.
For this reason you might like to take your smart phone with you on the walk and check the shipping movements via a website. I found the best one is http://aprs.fi. With the marine traffic website http:// www.marinetraffic.com/ais you might have to hunt for Auckland Harbour. From the schedule list it is easy to pick out all the passenger ships as they either berth at Queens Wharf or Princess Wharf.
I have to say that walking around Tamaki Drive and watching the shipping go in and out is far more exciting than watching free-to-air television.
Just after the Orion came in this much larger cargo ship left. Notice Mt Victoria in the background to both pictures.
The Parnell Bridge
As you are approaching the Parnell Bridge on a hot day about 2.5 km from the city end, the other end of the bridge is the Parnell Baths, a salt water pool. The person who designed this bridge that went up in 2013 looks like they were after some kind of design award.
The bridge steps also has a “J” track running up one side of the steps at a angle, I wondered what it was for until I saw a cyclist pushing his bicycle along in it instead of carrying the bike up the steps in his hands. Walking around Tamaki Drive enables you to take a close look at the bridge.
Slow down sign
With a bit of traffic on Tamaki Drive as you are approaching the other side of the Ngapipi estuary bridge to the 4km marker you might see a “Your speed” sign flash up “54” then “Slow” then “Down” because motorists always like going a bit faster than the limit. Personally I would put in a speed camera there and prosecute frequently repeating offenders. As I see it at the moment this equipment is just fairly interesting information for pedestrians walking towards it (and people using it in stories).
Cyclist warning sign
One day just seconds after walking past the 4km marker I heard a
cyclist cry out “What the [buzz]!” Hearing that sure grabbed my attention.
As I looked up, a car just leaving the left arrow lane (as seen in the photo), turning right into Ngapipi Road was in the stop position at the start of the oncoming cyclist’s side of the road. It was clear that this motorist had looked only at the sign that lights up to warn of oncoming cyclists but had not visually checked for an oncoming cyclist in front of his car.
This gave me an idea for a new walking hobby. I decided to stand and watch the sign and cyclists riding along Tamaki Drive towards the city past Ngapipi Road. See photo top right.
Note: Just right of the car turning right into Ngapipi Road is a yellow sign saying “Look for Motorists”. On the left side of the car is an orange sign that says “Cyclist approaching when flashing”. Above the orange sign is a diagram of a bicycle that flashes - or should flash. (The cyclist detector is about where the oncoming car is on the left side of the picture.)
It was disappointing to see that within 20 minutes and presumably just about every 20 minutes there would be at least one cyclist who would ride past without activating the warning system, from a solo rider to groups of cyclists.
Whether or not carbon fibre framed bikes have something to do with this fault is unclear to me. After telling a few people about this problem I made a point in the months later, not so much to walk along Tamaki Drive for pleasure, but more to see if the sign had been fixed.
Of course, in our world of a “Who gives a hoot about safety” attitude, I found to my dismay, from many visits, it would fault at least once in ten minutes.
As I sat on the footpath watching the sign, other pedestrians would walk past and ask if I was all right. In my opinion, if I was responsible for cyclist safety in that area I would have another sign erected next to the cyclist warning sign saying something like “Randomly faulty”.
Second World War huts
As you get to about where the 6km marker is at Biddicks Bay there is some kind of concrete hut built to aid the military defence of Auckland’s inner harbour. You can see that nobody has ever been in there with a vacuum cleaner.
If you turn around from about the spot where the 7km marker is, this is the view you get looking over a pedestrian bridge to Rangitoto Island.
Above: Passenger ship Orion.
Above: The Parnell Pool.
The speed sign.
Above: It looks like car carrying cargo ship.
Below: The 1km marker at the corner Quay St & Plumer St
The photo above was taken in St Heliers Bay at the end of the 10km walk.
Above: The intersection at Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Road.
Below: A small bridge and a view of Rangitoto Island.
Above: Huts built during Second World War.