Coast to Coast Walkway
When was the last time you walked from the west coast to the east coast of your country? On Sunday, Andrew and I decided it was a nice cool day for a long, long walk from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. In the morning we walked to Britomart, the local train station and hopped on a bus southwest to Onehunga (fun fact, Onehunga elected the first woman Mayor in the British Empire). Weather.com said good things and the sun was out early so we were pretty excited to get going. But about 20 minutes into the bus ride a huge dark cloud appeared over where we were headed. Of course, minutes before our stop, the clouds opened up and it started raining. There had never been a better time for second breakfast, so we scouted out a café and took a seat by the window. We were fortunate enough to see the rain dissipate and the clouds blow over. Phew! First disaster averted, most importantly because I didn’t have a backup plan and had no idea when or where to catch the bus back home.
At any rate, using some extremely vague directions from Lonely Planet we found the start of the Coast to Coast Walkway, right on the Manukau Harbour. We spent a bit of time looking out in the distance before we took off down Normans Hill Road. This isn’t a hike, it’s simply a scenic walk passing many scenic and historical locations in Auckland. A lot of the time we passed through residential areas and discussed which houses we’d buy and which ones we wouldn’t. I’m not big into clothing, but I do love to window shop for houses. Houses in Auckland are tiny, but quaint. I didn’t even think to snap any pictures, but hopefully I will next time.
The first park we passed was Jellicoe Park. There was a blockhouse here which was used as a fort in the 1860’s to keep an eye out and protect against perceived Maori attacks. There were many mature trees, a fountain and a playground. The park wasn’t spectacular in and of itself, but it was nice. The big appeal was that between one line of houses, you had a pretty decent view of the Manaukau Harbour, where we started from.
Next, we wandered a ways til we reached Maungakiekie, or One Tree Hill Domain. It’s a large park with three craters formed from volcanoes, and U2 wrote a song about it back in the 80’s. The tree is now gone but it’s still called the One Tree hill? Hmmm. Andrew and I saw a bunch of kids playing on a swing-zip line in the park. The parks here are awesome! They don’t dumb them down because of lawsuits like in the States. In fact, it’s very hard to sue in New Zealand. They still have see-saw’s and a bunch of other really cool pieces of equipment! Andrew and I waited for the kids to back off of the swing-zip line so we could give it a go, but it was too popular so we moved on. The One Tree Hill domain still had sheep and cows roaming around! The gates cautioned us not to disturb them, not a problem! The One Tree Hill summit gave way to Cornwall Park. Another huge gorgeous park, probably my favorite of the ones we strolled through. There was ample green space and since it was a beautiful day there were lots of children and couples picnicking.
We trekked through Melville Park where we took a break and ate peanut butter and chocolate/hazelnut spread sandwiches and bananas while trying to understand the intricacies of a game of cricket. There are a lot of group sports in the Auckland area and we saw folks playing cricket, rugby, soccer and just tossing a ball around. There are also a lot of joggers, bikers and walking groups out. We didn’t see anyone else following the coast to coast walkway in the same direction as us, but saw many others walking the other direction. Either way, cricket is definitely not a sport we are familiar with and we’ll need to find an expert before we understand scoring is done!
We walked through the University of Auckland campus a bit and went to Mount Eden. The path appears to take us through someone’s driveway, but then we walk up a bunch of stairs and the trail picks up past a rope swing, some beautiful foliage and a nice view of the “no” tree hill where we came from. We didn’t really know what to expect coming from this direction, and once again, the trail disappeared. It appears the city had not had an opportunity to clean up the trail yet this spring. The grass was knee high and we did our best to meander along what may have been paths. We must have done something right because we ended up on the top of Mount Eden, or Maungawhau. This is the highest isthmus in the city with a fantastic view of central city. Andrew and I could point out our apartment building and, sneak peak, Rangitoto on Motutapu Island – our next adventure. Rangitoto is the largest and youngest volcanic cone just across the bay from Auckland. After relaxing for a bit to enjoy the view, we clamored on down Mt. Eden.
Also, along the way Andrew and I found where the Old Boys Club meets. I think this might be the breakthrough I need in my job hunt.
We trekked through the city streets for a time on to the park where the Auckland War Memorial Museum is. This time around, with some additional insight, we found a couple of great paths to the north of the museum. We took a moment to feed the pigeons and then a slight detour to check out the Lover’s Lane rather than the corridor It was a great path with lots of foliage and a stream. It was quite secluded and a fun diversion out of the sun. We met back up to the trail and were surprised to see how sketchy the entrance was from the other side. Hmmm.
We wandered back through another University of Auckland campus past some old rock walls made from old lava flow. The clock tower on campus was beautiful! I never would have noticed the clock tower meshed in the hubbub of the city had I not walked this path. Beautiful houses with quaint British / New England undertones.
After about 5 hours and 16km we completed the Coast to Coast walkway in Viaduct Harbor Downtown.