Mon – Tues 8 December – Days 23 – 24
Tuesday is a day off from walking. My feet and legs will thank me I hope. After a filling breakfast Ben dropped me off in the city where I’ll stay overnight at the Sofitel Viaduct Harbour Hotel thanks to the generosity of my friend Georgina. It’s only 10am when most guests are checking out yet the hotel give me access to my room straight away. I am blessed. Today is errand day, Bivouac for a DOC back country hut pass and some replacement merino underwear then Icebreaker to take advantage of their free replacement sock policy. There was time also to see the America’s Cup bases. American Magic were putting a yacht in the water. Luna Rossa were watching and I presume recording the boat from a RIB in the basin. The Christmas racing series begins 17th December. This afternoon I luxuriated in the deep bath for ages. I don’t recall the last time I had a bath. Georgina and I had dinner at Amano, excellent as always and on the way back to the hotel had to take a pic of the lights in the viaduct basin with the Sky Tower looking magnificent in orange. Each night leading up to Christmas the tower will be lit in a different colour.
The next morning I was joined by Emma and Tania for a wonderful catch up breakfast at the hotel and then by Ben at 11am who would accompany me to Onehunga on the Coast to Coast walk. The 16 km walk is one of the best known and popular walks in Auckland and spans the isthmus between the Waitemata harbour from downtown Auckland across to Onehunga at the Manukau harbour. Chatting constantly, the walk from the hotel to the domain was a blur of pavement and street crossings. The Auckland domain is always a pleasure to be in plus we walked through the Wintergarden houses to see what the gardeners have on display. Through Khyber Pass and soon we were ascending Mt Eden Maungawhau which now has a cool timber and steel boardwalk looping around the crater to protect the volcanic ground. The summit affords excellent 360 degree views of Auckland City and far beyond. We descended on the sou’eastern side of the mountain through Epsom to the Sir John Logan Campbell statue and fountain. He was only 23 years old when he arrived in Auckland and became one of the most prominent pioneers of the city. Thanks to his philanthropy everyone can now enjoy Cornwall Park, its green spaces and One Tree Hill rather than it being more houses. A new bust of Sir John has been installed in Cornwall Park this year which we passed on the way to an ice cream at the cafe. We then surmounted One Tree Hill before heading out of the park and into the suburban blandness of Royal Oak. Pushing on past Jellicoe Park it was downhill for the final km to reach the end of the walk in Onehunga. We said our goodbyes and Ben walked back to the city (I’m so impressed). For me the TA trail crossed the harbour to Mangere on a combined cycle/walkway under the bridge but not before I crossed the imaginary 600 km mark since Cape Reinga. There was no register of it on the footpath so my landmarks were the power lines passing overhead and the Holcim silos. Once on the Mangere side of the harbour the trail stays on the footpath as it follows the contour around the waters edge. Mangere was formed 30,000 years ago in a large volcanic eruption with lava spreading out in a fan formation. At the western end of Mangere is Ambury Regional Park which is a working farm, petting zoo and a campsite for $16. There are two TA couples here as well, all new faces to me. Mandy & Slane from Wellington and Kaz & Rob from Silverdale.