Auck­land Walk: A ram­ble on An­zac Day - Point Eng­land Walk­way

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

north­ward track through bush fol­low­ing the tidal creek and bro­ken back fences or cross the fields to the new cy­cle way on the Ta­maki Es­tu­ary. Today we choose the lat­ter.

We strike out across the vast acreage of play­ing fields, now silent in their vi­ral ne­glect. “We need our space”, signs diplo­mat­i­cally in­form us, on be­half of groundnest­ing dot­terels. Our fence-line route takes us be­side in­tim­i­dat­ing and creak­ing macro­carpas to a con­gested shared cy­cle­way that now winds its way from Point Eng­land to Wai O Taki Na­ture Re­serve.

“Ah the ocean”, thinks Bonnie, point­ing her nose to the beach, and dis­ap­pears to grab a lengthy piece of drift­wood, which she hauls up the bank to show me. She trots down the mid­dle of the cy­cle way, log firmly in mouth, cre­at­ing a two me­tre bub­ble of her own. Cy­clists skirt around her, pedes­tri­ans pause and wait, and chil­dren in pushchairs point. Bonnie drops it at the foot of the seabird pou at the end of the walk­way, an of­fer­ing to the myth­i­cal guardian of the coast.

Ta­maki Es­tu­ary had once been the main route be­tween the Waitem­ata Har­bour and the Manukau Har­bour. Many waka would have trav­elled up this body of wa­ter that I now pause to sur­vey. I imag­ine ca­noes of Maori war­riors pad­dling in rhythm, dis­ap­pear­ing up un­der the Pan­mure Bridge, to the portage route of Otahuhu, New Zealand’s nar­row­est point.

In the old days, when no virus was around, I kayaked sev­eral times up the same route, past the waka ama jetty, wav­ing to in­tense row­ing crews from lo­cal col­leges. “You have to touch the mo­tor­way bridge with your pad­dle” I tell my kayak­ing part­ners: “for the jour­ney to count”.

Once a pod of dol­phins emerged and then they were gone. I sur­vey this sparkling body of wa­ter: it is eerily quiet. No move­ment. Boats sit life­less in the still morn­ing air, tied up in the chan­nel over at Half Moon Bay.

The sand­spit of Tahuna Torea draws me, a band of white sand, lay­ered over with dark green po­hutukawa sep­a­rat­ing ocean and sky. Team­ing with birdlife, dogs aren’t al­lowed, so I turn up the hill amongst the houses. I walk now by in­tu­ition, search­ing for a gapin-the-fence back down to the coastal track.

I find a path off Vista Cres­cent, but No Dogs Al­lowed. “Your regis­tra­tion fees pay for those signs”, I in­form Bonnie. We cir­cle down to Roberta Re­serve, to dis­cover it is an “off leash” area. “I take it back”, I apol­o­gise, and Bonnie races for the wa­ter. I look long­ingly at the closed patis­serie on Roberta Av­enue: in bet­ter days this will be a good break­fast stop.

The tide is lap­ping the rock wall, and I ask a lo­cal if I could have come down the Vista Cres­cent walk­way to the coastal track. “Oh yes, and there’s a nice lit­tle beach there for the dog”, he replies. His white Labrador greets my black Labrador. We keep two me­tres apart.

Bonnie and I stick to the coast and head around past the Glen­dowie Boat Club: the road be­comes a path­way of con­crete slabs pushed up at awk­ward an­gles by old po­hutukawa roots. There are stairs down to se­cluded scraps of beach on my right.

Lo­cals look af­ter this track like it’s their own pri­vate yard. I emerge onto Clous­ton Street where people are milling around as if some­thing

of pukekos lifts awk­wardly into the air, their legs trail­ing be­hind them. We now have a choice: take the north­ward track through bush fol­low­ing the tidal creek and bro­ken back fences or cross the fields to the new cy­cle way on the Ta­maki Es­tu­ary. Today we choose the lat­ter.

We strike out across the vast acreage of play­ing fields, now silent in their vi­ral ne­glect. “We need our space”, signs diplo­mat­i­cally in­form us, on be­half of groundnest­ing dot­terels. Our fence-line route takes us be­side in­tim­i­dat­ing and creak­ing macro­carpas to a con­gested shared cy­cle­way way that now winds its way from Point Eng­land to Wai O Taki Na­ture Re­serve.

“Ah the ocean”, thinks Bonnie, point­ing her nose to the beach, and dis­ap­pears to grab a lengthy piece of drift­wood, which she hauls up the bank to show me. She trots down the mid­dle of the cy­cle way, log firmly in mouth, cre­at­ing a two me­tre bub­ble of her own. Cy­clists skirt around her, pedes­tri­ans pause and wait, and chil­dren in pushchairs point. Bonnie drops it at the foot of the seabird pou at the end of the walk­way, an of­fer­ing to the myth­i­cal guardian of the coast.

Ta­maki Es­tu­ary had once been the main route be­tween the Waitem­ata Har­bour and the Manukau Har­bour. Many waka would have trav­elled up this body of wa­ter that I now pause to sur­vey. I imag­ine ca­noes of Maori war­riors pad­dling in rhythm, dis­ap­pear­ing up un­der the Pan­mure Bridge, to the portage route of Otahuhu, New Zealand’s nar­row­est point.

In the old days, when no virus was around, I kayaked sev­eral

Fact File Es­ti­mated Walk­ing time and dis­tance: 19 or so kilo­me­tres, or around four hours.

At­trac­tions: Ur­ban and ru­ral con­trasts. Farm­land and bush. Coastal walk­way and views. Maori cul­tural his­tory. Birdlife in abun­dance.

Where to start and leave the car: You can en­ter the cir­cuit de­scribed above pretty much any­where you de­cide. How­ever, there is plenty of parking at Sun­hill shops (Sun­hill Gar­den Cen­tre and Sun­hill Fresh Mar­ket) by the be­gin­ning of the Api­rana Re­serve and Cy­cle­way, near the Mead­ow­bank Pony Club. Op­po­site Stone Di­rect.

The be­gin­ning of Point Eng­land Walk is clearly marked on a no­tice board. There is an un­ob­structed spec­tac­u­lar sun­rise view from the be­gin­ning of the walk. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the Auck­land City Coun­cil web­site: https:// www.auck­land­coun­cil.govt.nz/ parks-recre­ation/get-out­doors/ find-a-walk/Pages/point-to-point­walk­way.aspx

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