My Favourite Walk: Mt Auck­land walk at Atu­anui Scenic Re­serve

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Mike Giri

Some of us may not know the ex­is­tence of Mt Auck­land, which is lo­cated in the out­skirts of the su­per city Auck­land, just about 70 km north (Rod­ney District); con­nected by good high­ways.

The lo­ca­tion is beau­ti­fied by Kaipara Har­bour, sur­round­ing typ­i­cal New Zealand farm­lands, pad­docks, and na­tive for­est patches, here and there just along Kaipara Coastal High­way.

The peak (305m), in­clud­ing the sur­round­ing re­served area is cov­ered by well pre­served dense, mixed veg­e­ta­tion of na­tive bush.

His­tor­i­cally, the area sur­round­ing the sum­mit has been looked after since more than 100 years un­der na­tive bush con­ser­va­tion. The area is called Atu­anui Scenic Re­serve.

After the han­dover of the area by Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion (DOC) to the lo­cal iwi group, Ngati Whatua O Kaipara, and mem­bers of lo­cal Puhatahi Marae, now, it is looked after by a Trust with mem­bers com­pris­ing, lo­cal iwi, ecol­o­gists and en­vi­ron­ment spe­cial­ists and rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Auck­land City Coun­cil.

It is made sure by the lo­cal com­mu­nity in­clud­ing Glorit com­mu­nity that the re­gen­er­at­ing kanuka and manuka dom­i­nated bush is al­lowed to cover be­low the re­serve.

I had watched the mountain, while pass­ing through Kaipara Coastal High­way (KCHW) many times in last 20 years. I re­cently checked the ac­cess road to the re­serve for the pur­pose to visit.

Thanks to my son, Sudeep, who of­fered to drive me there, and walk along with me on one of the week­ends, we made it on Sun­dayi in March.

We checked the weather, that was partly sunny for the day, and also route. We al­lowed the built-in GPS of the car to help us drive through. It took us through the north­ern NMW 1, and to Dairy Flat, to KCHW, very close to Glorit.

We had a lit­tle dif­fi­culty lo­cat­ing the en­trance be­cause of the sign­board posted on the side of KCHW was tad small.

Once the en­trance was found, we went in through a big metal gate for about 75 m to small car park, but enough for about six cars on grav­elled ground.

There was a toi­let nearby, tbut un­for­tu­nately it did not have toi­let pa­per or hand wash. There were two cars at the time. Any­way, we fol­lowed what looked

like an old track cov­ered by grass.

We crossed a lit­tle gully to go to other side and the track con­tin­ued up-hill on ex­ten­sive pad­dock. The pad­dock was dom­i­nantly rye­grass, oc­ca­sion­ally pas­palum, and a few broad leaf dan­de­lions oc­cur­ring here and there.

On the lower side, a lot of flow­er­ing pam­pas could be seen. Lux­u­ri­ant growth of grass made it a bit stren­u­ous to walk uphill.

After a few min­utes the track also disappeared, and we just fol­lowed the di­rec­tion and orange painted pole mark, that were few and far be­tween.

When­ever, we looked be­hind, the view of dis­tant blue wa­ter, be­yond the farm­lands was beau­ti­ful. Then we crossed the high ten­sion trans­mis­sion line and con­tin­ued the walk uphill.

After about 20 min­utes we reached where new plan­ta­tion was ob­vi­ous, and look­ing back the Tas­man Sea could be seen..

After cross­ing a stile on a fence, and walk­ing for 10 min­utes through re­gen­er­at­ing manuka and kanuka plan­ta­tion, we reached the gate of Atu­anui Scenic Re­serve. This was pro­tected by an­other stile, and there was dis­in­fec­tion ar­range­ment against “Kauri Dieback”.

After this gate the for­est was quite dense with mixed trees and shrubs in­clud­ing nikau, sil­ver fern, puriri, taraire, flax, and cab­bage trees.

At one point we saw dwarf rata bush with a beau­ti­ful flower. The camera also caught the bee vis­it­ing the flower.

We con­tin­ued our walk, mostly go­ing up and up through un­du­lat­ing hill tops. The track was fairly well es­tab­lished and well di­rected by orange tri­an­gu­lar plas­tic ar­rows nailed on the side of tree trunks.

The de­scrip­tion of the re­serve in­di­cated the hunt­ing is al­lowed to the per­mit hold­ers only. While we were walk­ing we heard, what seemed like gun

fire at that time from be­low. We could not check what it was.

At one point I saw one species of or­chid, that was quite common in many trees (taraire), and I would have liked to iden­tify it, but it was not flow­er­ing at this time.

Some areas were moist but we had no dif­fi­culty walk­ing. After about 25 min­utes of walk uphill from the gate, we reached the sum­mit. It was nar­row, just enough space for an­gu­lar cone (trig) and view-tower.

All the hard work to reach there was paid off by the stun­ning panoramic view of sur­round­ing area, es­pe­cially that of Kaipara Har­bour on north, and Ho­teo River es­tu­ary on west side.

On the south side the ex­ten­sive farm­land with houses was seen. It has been re­ported that on a sunny; clear day, one can see Whangarei as well. The veg­e­ta­tion sur­round­ing this peak was very mixed. I saw New Zealand hon­ey­suckle (re­warewa), cab­bage, nikau, grisilina and even one species of hebe, and flax.

After en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful sur­round­ing and some stun­ning views, and, of course, tak­ing pho­tos to record our visit, we rested for five min­utes and drank wa­ter.

We then de­scended along the same route. Al­ter­na­tively, there was an­other route, that was a bit longer (more than 11 km), but we did not plan that one for the day.

It was ev­i­dent that the pests are closely mon­i­tored with traps.

En­joy­ing the view and fan­tas­tic ter­rain while de­scend­ing, it took us about 45 min­utes to reach the car park.

The dis­tance recorded is 3.5 km each way, to and from the peak. Of­fi­cial tim­ing rec­om­mended is about 3.5 hours. There is a sea­sonal re­stric­tion of walk­ing through this track from 1 Au­gust to 30 Septem­ber be­cause the “KCHW ac­cess to the for­est edge” is closed due to lamb­ing season.

We met an adult with two chil­dren of four and seven years com­ing down while we were go­ing up, that meant it is ac­ces­si­ble for chil­dren un­der 10 years as well.

Good shoes, com­fort­able sea­sonal wear, and wa­ter bot­tle are es­sen­tial. A cou­ple of samies as re­fresh­ment will be help­ful while rest­ing at the top.

It was a memorable ex­pe­ri­ence to add yet an­other mile­stone of New Zealand walk. We en­joyed it very much. We came back through Wells­ford to Auck­land.

Thanks to the trust for manag­ing Atu­anui Re­serve for our plea­sure; an avid walker will al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate it. That is what makes New Zealand, New Zealand.

Above left: The route map and track in­for­ma­tion posted at the car park. Above right; Met­rosideros boom­ing with a bee vis­it­ing for honey.

Above: A view from sum­mit to­wards south west show­ing Ho­teo River. Be­low right:.The new plan­ta­tion and the sur­round­ing scenery.

Above: Mike at the tower at the sum­mit.

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