Auckland Coast-to-Coast walkway on foot!
The Auckland Coast-to-Coast walk is a hidden treasure to add to your bucket list. It is free apart from any transport back to your start. We are researching an awesome ebike loop route that we will post when we are happy with the route safety and variety. We enjoyed the slower pace and little things that we saw on foot that we have missed whizzing by on bike and in the car.
You can walk in either direction, or sections at a time. It really is worth doing, so if you don’t think you can do the whole thing in one go, break it up into manageable chunks. Start (or finish) is the Ferry building on Quay St, and the other end is Onehunga Bay Reserve (who knew there was a wakeboarding cable facility there?). It is not the shortest route from coast to coast: that honour goes to the portage route from Tamaki Estuary to Mangere Inlet, only 1.3km, and the Whau River portage (3.5km) between New Lynn and Blockhouse Bay.
In preparation, my advice is to print out the trail notes from Te Araroa, download the google maps layer link and get a paper map from an i-Site (there is one next to the Crab Shack on Princes Wharf). You are looking for the Central Auckland map (the print version is usable, the download not so much). Read the AT/AC sites for background and history. There is signage along the way, but it is more useful as reassurance if you are indeed on the right track, as it is too inconsistent to be useful (a consistent theme on TripAdvisor reviews too). We made a number of accidental detours. The “Downloadable Maps” from AT/AC and Te Araroa are not useful — not easy to print, terrible resolution and at times disagree with the trail notes from Te Araroa. I wish I had known about this google map before we set off.
Be prepared for a fairly big walk; you don’t want to miss out on any exploring. Take lots of sunscreen and water. It is 16km but by pedometer had me at 22km – remembering there are optional (and totally worth it) trips up to Mt Eden and One Tree Hill and as we did, you will probably go a long way round when you go the wrong way! I consider myself quite fit but I was tired afterwards and the next day, really happy to have completed it though.
The trail takes you from downtown through Britomart (feel free to go a bit stray here) along charming roads you might not frequent as a car user – and you wouldn’t be alone wondering why there are even cars allowed on some of them. It’s worth detouring through Albert Park and exploring the Auckland Uni campus a bit. There are some fine old buildings to admire. This is an opportunity to fossick and explore so don’t think you have to be on a singular mission.
Crossing the motorway (by bridge!) finds you walking up through Auckland Domain – the volcano called Pukekawa. Enjoy the sculptures along the way, and hope for an ice cream vendor at the top! At the top of the hill, take a detour through the Wintergarden and exit out the left rear door. The Wintergarden is a bit of a pleasant surprise and free to enter. The track heads through a leafy forest section up to the central scoria cone (Pukekakaro), down the other side and across the fields (left of the cricket pavilion) to Park Rd. If you had time you could divert via the Museum – the views from up there are nice and of course the museum is great too.
There are more fine old Auckland homes and institutional buildings as you head up towards Mt Eden. The walk up Mt Eden/Maungawhau is really lovely, especially now that most vehicles have been excluded. The views from the top are magnificent in all directions, and it seems much higher than it really is (196m). The crater looks very inviting but the signage says not to go down especially not by MTB — it looks as if there might be a trapdoor at the bottom leading straight to hell. I can’t advise you how to get down the correct way because the signage disappeared on us and we ended up going the long way via Mt Eden Village. The correct path has you winding down behind Government House. Ours was not a bad detour all the same, as we used the opportunity to grab some lunch. (Note if you did this by bike/ebike you would likely want to take the route we took).
You are routed through the leafy suburbs and take a short-cut through the Uni’s Epsom Campus which I had no idea was even there! There is even some art disguised as plumbing (or vice versa). The path through the campus is well signposted but the next move is not. It cuts across the sportsfield immediately on the left as you leave the campus (Melville Park). We went the long way ‘round…
Next highlight is Cornwall Park through the One Tree Hill Domain. It’s a lovely park and another that I am sorry to have missed for the most part on previous vehicular flybys. It is better on foot. You will curse the cars as the climb up to the top (186m) is very pedestrian unfriendly, leading me to wonder why they don’t do the same for Maungakiekie as for Maungawhau, namely to ban cars other than for mobility reasons. Some jokers have ‘graffitied’ the crater with rocks. It’s a fun thing to sit up there and try to identify as many volcanic cones as you can. You will have deserved some rest.
From here it’s an easy enough walk through Royal Oak into Onehunga and to the end. I recommend the way the trail notes suggest rather than the maps if they differ.
Depending on how you got to your start you can use Public Transport or Taxi/Uber back and find somewhere to rest your weary bones.
If you did want to ebike this, most of it is do-able. To avoid stuffing a bike into an Uber on the way home, you could consider riding back via the new paths to Waterview. ElectricMeg and I will recce this route and let you know what it’s like.
- Te Araroa – https://www.teararoa.org.nz/auckland/coast-to-coast-walkway/
- Auckland Transport – https://at.govt.nz/cycling-walking/auckland-cycle-run-walkway-maps/coast-to-coast-walk/
- Auckland Council – http://temp.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/parksfacilities/walkingtracks/Pages/coasttocoast.aspx
- Google Map Auckland Coast-to-Coast Walkway Layer – https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1sO8jvuE-4tMjq33T-PVcVOwF6X0&hl=en&usp=sharing
- TripAdvisor – https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attraction_Review-g255106-d257379-Reviews-Coast_to_Coast_Walkway-Auckland_Central_North_Island.html