Wed 9 December – Day 25
The thing about camping on a farm, even a council owned farm park, is the animals are up really early. I think it was around 5am when the roosters started crowing. There were two in competition soon accompanied by the ugly squawking of the many pukekos, the tuis singing, the ducks, the chickens, the sheep.. The pukekos had squawked all night off and on, but it was cacophony that does the business in the morning. As far as mornings go however it is a cracker. There is a breeze – so no condensation – a dry tent and a cloudless sky. It’s so nice I snooze until 7am then am packed up and ready to go in half an hour. The farm park is still sleepy. Most of the sheep are not on their feet and even little rabbits barely react to me passing by. The trail follows the 7 km Watercare Coastal walkway around the Mangere coast between the farm and Otuataua stonefields.
It opened in 2005 as part of Watercare’s Manukau foreshore rehabilitation. In the 1960s, earthworks for the Māngere Sewage Works sludge ponds in the lagoon damaged the scoria cone at the centre of this explosion crater, and the crater itself. The sewage works handled Auckland’s waste for 40 years. Its sludge ponds stood on this shore, and its oxidation ponds webbed the sea on the right-hand side of the track all the way out to Puketutu Island. As some of the old treatment systems were decommissioned the area and birdlife have been rejuvenated and nurtured.
The new wastewater treatment plant opened in 2003 and can process waste in 13 hours by using clarifiers and ultraviolet radiation. The old plant used sludge settlement and oxidation and took 21 days. These days the sterile solids are trucked away, and the sterile fluids are released on the outgoing tide at the rate of 25 tonnes a second – Auckland’s biggest river. Maybe clean but I still wouldn’t fill my water bottle from it! The latest gigantic project is a 14.7 km tunnel from the western suburbs that conveys wastewater to the plant. A boring machine will be used for the tunnel which will be as tall as a giraffe. Fortunately the wastewater processing plant seems to be odour free today.
Through the industrial area prior to the airport I went, cutting off the walk past Ihumatao then out the eastern exit from the airport on Puhinui Road. There is little in the way of air and road traffic compared to pre-covid levels. Although there is major roadworks being done along this stretch of road. It looks like a cycle/walk way and fortunately for hikers means a safe pathway compared to the piddling berm that one had to negotiate in the past. When driving, I had never noticed the memorial garden for the crew of the Erebus disaster before so was pleased to acknowledge it today. The trail turns left to Puhinui reserve, through paddocks and onto the Puhinui stream track which is hidden behind the Wiri industrial area. The next section is through Wiri and pretty dull to be honest especially as I’ve walked it before. So I text my folks to call it a day at the Auckland botanic garden. It’s a beautiful setting for the end of today’s walk. On the way home we follow the trail through the suburban streets of Papakura and Drury. I have no interest in walking these and will start again from Bombay where the trail will be new for me. Tonight though, the comforts of home 🏡😊