• Kay

Day 37 Surprise Beauty

Friday 15 November

Auckland CBD to Auckland Airport

Distance 30km plus 3km for missing turnings and going around a road block

Total 614.5km

Steps 50,027 (that's true)

Floors 360 (that's another lie from fitbit)

Elevation estimate 350m

Weather: Sunny, cloudy, some light drizzle

Today was a surprise. I wasn't looking forward to the 30km walk to the airport through city scapes, the only relief being the deliberate diversions (read as unnecessary additional kms), up the side of old volcanoes. I'm sure we are routed over them just to prove Auckland has hills and some greenery.

That said the view from the the top of Mt Eden (seriously - they call that pimple a mountain!), back across the city centre was spectacular. On the way down the huge mountain I came across a TAer, another Chris. We must all have the same kind of look as it was immediately clear, without me having to ask, that he was walking the TA. Then again, not a lot of people walk the city streets carrying a fully laden pack and walking poles.

Once past the volcanoes and over Mangere Bridge, the trail opened out onto this amazing trail made up of footpath, farmland and track around the shoreline almost all the way to the airport. I had expected nothing but road walking and houses. Instead I was walking by bird sanctuaries and nest sites, wetlands full of life, a pounding sea and Maori cultural sites of significant importance, Ihumātao. I had no idea any of this was part of Auckland City.

For those not in the know, (which included me until I looked this up), I have included a brief summary on the history of the area at the bottom of this post. It is taken from wikipedia.

Slightly less ideal was the strong wind I was walking into and the trail passing the sewage works. Oh well, it makes you appreciate the rest.

I reached the 600km mark, which means I am 20% of the way to Bluff. The photo is at 600.5km, because I forgot. I also failed to write on the ground the distance as I only had sheep poo to work with and I am unfortunately not that dedicated.

600.5km mark

On the wetlands, surrounded by ancient stone garden walls there is a turning which takes you through some paddocks and then on to Ihumātao Quarry Road, to the heart of the Ihumātao protesters. I missed the turning. In my defence, although there was a sign, the arrow appeared to be pointing along the main track, the gate to my left was padlocked and there wasn't really a trail. More like footprints through some long grass. Missing turnings on a big km day is my least favourite thing. I worked out my error about 1km beyond the junction, I walked back (I took it relatively well and didn't stamp my feet or curse or anything), and climbed the gate. I should have realised it was locked for a reason, but I ignored my curiosity as to why the padlock was there.

A km on I reached the road only to find it fully surrounded by a high security fence and a security guard on the porch of a house 500m away behind the barricade. I checked the map. I checked the trail notes. I didn't recall seeing anything on the TA facebook page about a diversion. I continued to surprise myself with my calm reaction. I decided to make my own diversion having found no way around, over or through the fence. Back tracking a little I went up and over a hill to my right as there was a road that ran parallel to the Ihumātao Quarry Road, about 750m away. Subject to there being no other security fences, raging rivers, bulls or dogs, I reasoned there must be a way to that road which would lead me back to the official route.

My diversion took me through an ancient quarry, over a small stone wall, a couple of fences and a paddock. I hope I wasn't offending anyone by the route I took. It was clear there were official marked tracks through most of where I walked and only a little over what was possibly private farming property.

This brought me out to the final 5km of the day, my final destination being an airport hotel. It was a hard last few kms. Feet were aching and my body was tired. I must have been a sorry sight as I was offered three lifts on a very short piece of road.

An icecream at a petrol station revived me enough to get to the hotel. Another day of sitting on the shower floor due to the extremely sore feet, although no more blisters. Yipee. I reached over 50,000 steps - a new record for the trail. It was sitting about 70 steps short of that magic number so I hobbled around the room to make the 50,000 mark. As for the 360 floors claimed by the fitbit - not a chance. Mt Eden in not that high.

I am pleased with the distance covered, particularly as I have a sore throat. I am trying to convince myself it is just a reaction to breathing city smog the last few days rather than a cold coming.

Ihumātao (Information from Wikipedia)

The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage gives a translation of "cold nose" for Ihumātao. Māori first settled in the area as early as the 14th century. During the Invasion of the Waikato in 1863, the local Māori had their land confiscated by the New Zealand Government as punishment for supporting the Kingitanga movement. The land was largely used for farming until late 2016 when Fletcher Building acquired the site as part of a housing development project. Fletcher's housing development project has been opposed by the Māori activist group "Save Our Unique Landscape" (SOUL), which has occupied the site and staged protests since 2016.

In July 2019, SOUL were evicted from the site and eleven people were subsequently arrested, sparking a much larger occupation of several hundred people at Ihumātao that continues to this day.

The site is located on the Ihumātao Peninsula, in Mangere, at the base of the volcanic cone of Ōtuataua, part of the Auckland volcanic field. The scoria cone reaches 64 metres (210 ft) (210 ft) above sea level and was the site of a large Māori (fortification).

The Ōtuataua Stonefields are part of an area known as Ihumātao or Te Ihu a Mataoho ("The Nose of Mataoho"). The Stonefields feature Māori stone garden mounds and Māori and European dry-stone walls; the visible histories of Ihumātao are interwoven with the history of Auckland, as it is possible to trace the history of human presence in Auckland from initial Māori settlement to the arrival of Europeans in the 1860s with their pastoral farming techniques.

The papakāinga (village) of Ihumātao is considered the oldest settlement in Auckland.

The Ōtuataua Stonefields were part of a greater settlement of the Auckland Isthmus, which has been surveyed, mapped and investigated by archaeologists since the 1970s. It is estimated that there was once about 8000 hectares of stonefield gardens, of which the 100 hectares at Ōtuataua is the last remaining example.

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