World famous in New Zealand: North Shore Heritage Trail, Auckland
Original article from Stuff, posted on 11 February 2018. All photos and text credit to Pamela Wade and Stuff.
Part of the Te Araroa trail that takes walkers from Cape Reinga to Bluff, this is the user-friendly section that runs from Milford to Takapuna.
Whatever the tide, it's always accessible: beginning at Milford Reserve, from the end of the sandy beach a mostly concrete track leads along the shore. It takes you past old cottages, mansions, super-modern homes all glass and angles, traditional baches, and even a mock-castle, all with enviable views across the sea to Rangitoto with its cheerful candy-striped lighthouse.
There's some scrambling over rocks, and rough steps here and there, plus a narrow breakwater to teeter along, but it's more fun than challenging, and there are plenty of places to stop and rest under a pohutukawa tree.
You could even sit a spell on the Giant's Throne — a generous two-seater built from sea-smoothed rocks.
It only takes 45 minutes, and it's full of surprises. How about that fossil forest? It's the only one in New Zealand, and it dates back 100,000 years to when the volcano erupted that formed Lake Pupuke. Only visible at low tide, you can see the outlines and imprints of the kauri and pohutukawa trees that once grew here: the biggest hole is 1.6m across and three metres deep.
Then there's the mock Scottish castle, complete with a crenellated tower and, below it down by the sea, Penelope's Pool, built so the owner's wife could avoid "the buffeting of the waves" as she bathed.
It is possible to continue walking all the way to Devonport, but because of steep cliffs and bays with no road access, some of the official trail is along streets through leafy suburbs.
With an adventurous attitude and careful attention to the tide tables, though, it's possible to do it all at sea level, past secret bays fringed with pohutukawa and toi toi, with at the end a fabulous panoramic view from the top of North Head.
ON THE WAY/NEARBY
Treat yourself to some authentic French patisserie at La Tropezienne cafe in Kitchener Rd in Milford to set yourself up for your exertions. On Sundays there's a big market in Takapuna; on any day you're spoiled for choice there for cafes and bars.
Literary types might like to seek out Frank Sargeson's House, with its Janet Frame links. Lake Pupuke is close by, too, heart-shaped and around 60m deep; and the Pumphouse Theatre on its shore is well-regarded locally.
Of course it's free, but take money for a delicious reward at Takapuna: there's the popular Beach Cafe right by the water, and a range of restaurants just up over the road. And then there are all those shops you have to pass on the way to the bus back to Milford…
BEST TIME TO GO
Choose a sunny day when the sea is sparkling, all the islands of the Gulf are clear, and you'll enjoy a dip on Takapuna's long curve of sandy beach. See teararoa.org.nz.
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