New Zealand Walk: Waikowhai Coastal Walk
The inaugural Waikowhai Coastal Epic Walk organised by the Auckland City Council was first held on Saturday, 5th of April, 2014 and has been held each year since.
It was first of its kind and was widely circulated well before hand. I got the information through my friends and being a walking enthusiast, I decided to participate.
The distance was approximately 11 km starting from Onehunga Bay Reserve car park walking along the coastal line of Manukau Harbour and ending at Lynfield Cove.
The estimated time was four to five hours with a lunch break at Waikowhai Reserve Park.
Not only was the route map provided but there were also guides and council marshals for guidance.
The participants gathered near the car park, and at 10 am the briefing for the walk started. This covered description of routes, safety guidance, lunch break and end of the walk.
It was decided to make three groups, A, B and C, according to pace of walkers.
Then the group started walking from the bay along the guided path. The path then crossed State Highway 20 by a bridge, to Seacliff Road. After 15 minutes, we reached Hillsborough Bay through a narrow connection from Banfield.
The foreshore at Hillsborough Bay is submerged during high tide period, rendering it inaccessible for walking.
We walked to the end of the foreshore, where Bluff Terrace started. Then we continued on Fredericks Street, for about 200m, and turned to a small park on left side.
We went on through a track which was close to Fernot Street, but went uphill through a bush in Goodall Street Reserve where a lot of common native plants such as silver fern, nikau, cabbage tree, titoki, puriri, five fingers were seen.
This track finally brought us to Goodall Street. About 30m uphill along this street, we went through the gate into Hillsborough Cemetery. After reaching the top of the hill, we were guided on a downhill track to reach foreshore of Granny’s Bay through Clifton Road.
Again, walking along this foreshore is possible in low tide only. At one point we had to almost crawl through a rocky edge below which was fairly deep blue water.
After a long walk we reached Wesley Bay, where we caught up with one track which went uphill through zigzag path, and after about five minutes, we climbed through wooden stairs. This thick bush is a part of Waikowhai Reserve with a lot of native trees.
Depending on the season and time of observation, common birds like fantail, tui, and dove can be seen. I saw a few seagulls on the shore. This track ended in Waikowhai Park, where we took a break and grabbed our lunch.
After a rest of 10 minutes at the park, we continued on the track. In about 1012 minutes, this uphill track took us to Cape Horn Road. After about 30m uphill there were wooden stairs to go down to Wattle Bay.
It was quite a steep descend for about 10 minutes until we reached the small beach of Wattle Bay. After catch-
ing our breath and taking some photos we continued on the track, which then, went straight uphill through Wattle Reserve, where a lot of common native trees including kauri and pohutukawa, were seen.
We came up to Halsey Drive and walked passed Halsey Drive School and Manukau Domain with beautiful views that continued to Wattle Reserve down to the shoreline.
Halsey Drive area is a well populated, residential area with attractive houses many with palm trees around the property. We walked for about a km to reach Naigra Crescent. The view of Manukau Harbour was stunning from the end of this road. At the end of this we picked up the walking track again, which after passing through a residential area for about 15 minutes, finally descended to the foreshore of Lynfield Cove.
We walked up to Gilleta Road Park, and rested for a few minutes, and took photos before continuing to our parked car nearby.
The foreshore, all along, was nicely maintained and fairly clean, but during the high tide it would be under water making it dangerous to walk.
The council has, since then, completed a raised wooden walkway on Hillsborough foreshore. This looks wide and beautiful. This has shortened the walking track and it will avoid walking through residential areas as well. It starts from Orpheus car park of Taumanu Reserve which is new addition to foreshore planning and conserving green belt above it.
On the day of the walk, an overwhelming number of 140 participants appeared, which was beyond the organisers’ expectation. It is not easy to manage such a large group on a walking track, but it was successfully done. The credit goes to the organisers. Looking at such enthusiasm, the council should organise such walks more frequently to introduce old and new walking tracks within the council area.
I appreciated the idea of carrying a plastic bag to collect rubbish by each participant where practical. I like to see it put into practice on a regular basis everywhere. It will keep our natural environment clean, and the people, by and large, will love it. I am just looking forward to having more of such opportunities to participate in the group walk. It is good for all who can walk. Photos courtesy Auckland City Council.
Above: A guide explains the walking route. Below middle: A group photo at the end of the walk at Lynfield Cove. Below: A scenic view of Manukau Harbour from the trail.