Stopping by woods on a rainy afternoon: Coatesville

Some days, your plans just don’t end up working out. As happened to me one rainy Monday in late Spring. The skies just would not let up, and my attempts to explore Riverhead Forest were stymied by bad maps, private roads, and a general lack of trails. My Plan B also fell through, as I couldn’t find any public access to that reserve either. Tired, wet, and a little frustrated, I looked at my list of eateries to try in the area, picked one out, and drove out to Fernielea Cafe in Coatesville.

I’m pretty sure anyone who grew up in rural Southeastern US would feel right at home in Coatesville. There are some indications of the Auckland Region’s more cosmopolitan nature — mostly the presence of more than one ethnicity living and working in the same general area — but that’s all for the good.

The backyard of the cafe includes a playground and picnic area, which I’m sure would be nice if it weren’t drenched. My jacket (hanging on the chair there) and hat (sneaking into the bottom of the photo) were similarly sodden. Credit where credit’s due, though my jacket itself was soaked, I was reasonably dry. Or at least my torso was; my head, legs, and feet were not so lucky!

After lunch, despite the rain, I was cheered enough to go for a bit of a walk around the bridle trails. This area seems to go for equestrian pursuits, as the trails are primarily designed for mounted use and indeed some of the fields look like they’re used for dressage rather than farmland.

No horses on the fields today, though; just this bird who has chosen the exact center of the field to stand in. I imagine him looking around and thinking, satisfied, “all mine”.

When the rain picked up a bit, I was grateful for the bits of trail under some sort of tree shelter.

As the trail bends ’round near the road, there is a bit of a pond.

Thanks to all the rain it’s practically overflowing! This tree doesn’t even need roots; it can bend down and drink through its leaves.

As with in life, the secret to being content as an explorer is to see the beauty and adventure that surrounds us wherever we are and appreciate what we can experience, big or small. After spending a couple of hours getting wet clear through as I walked around peaceful, quiet Coatesville, I came to appreciate that what I had gotten that day was exactly what I needed.

Next week I’m going to post some photos of a fantastic hike with amazing views and lovely sunny weather. It was a chance to properly explore an area I’ve wanted to check out for a while now, and I absolutely loved it. But on that rainy day in Coatesville I was glad I had stopped by those woods and fields and had a chance to experience some peace and tranquility.

And this seems like a good post to end 2015 with. Thank you for following along with my adventures this year, and an especially big thank you to those who have encouraged me in some way as I share my experiences.

Many cool points will be awarded to you if you get the reference in the title of this post. See you next year :)

Rangitoto

Ah, Rangitoto. Picturesque, majestic, and nearly as iconic as the Sky Tower itself. This dormant volcano presides over Hauraki Gulf and silently watches all the activity in Waitemata Harbour.

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You can also totally get there by boat, which is neat. A couple of friends and I did just that.

Much of Rangitoto is made up of this sort of scoria, rough volcanic rock. I hear the Hawai’ians call it ‘a’a, pronounced ah-ah, possibly named after the noise you make if you fall on it.

The volcano has been dormant for long enough for scrubby overgrowth to cover parts of it. There is a walking trail, which at the point this photo was taken we chose to disregard.

Rangitoto is connected to Motutapu, another island in the gulf. Motutapu is the older of the two, and I hear there were Maori settlements on it destroyed by the eruption of Rangitoto. The two islands are not naturally connected above the water, but when the military started fortifying Motutapu and, somewhat, Rangitoto, they built a connection between the two islands.

The distinctive bulge of Devonport’s North Head gives a clue as to which side of the mountain we’re on. And I do believe that’s Auckland there on the other side!

Tearing our eyes from the view for a second (don’t worry; we’ll get back there), Rangitoto also features some lava caves. As Tyson here is demonstrating, the caves are big enough for exploration!

I tried a variety of camera tricks to get the optimal photo from in the caves; I think this is the best of the several I took. You can see root systems hanging down from the ceiling; these are quite wet and make the whole cave a bit moist. At its highest point the roof is probably three to four meters up! Most of that is covered in dangling root fibers, of course, but that’s still quite impressive. I do wonder if one day the roots will reach the bottom of the cave and possibly even close it up…that would be pretty amazing. Tourists like us will probably prevent that from happening too quickly though!

The hike to the summit is not long, but it does get quite steep near the top. Once you reach there, you are rewarded by a large observation platform and one of these “achievement unlocked” things.

There’s also one of the ubiquitous WWII observation stations on the summit. We climbed onto the roof of the station (something not expressly forbidden, but probably not encouraged). Taylor chose to celebrate this moment by doing…whatever that is he’s doing.

From the summit you can also look down into the volcanic cone. Last time I was atop Rangitoto, the track around the cone was closed. But on this day it was open! I was stoked since walking around the cone would be a new experience.

Much like eating lunch on the roof of the observation post, climbing down into the cone is not expressly forbidden. I’m not even sure it’s discouraged, though there is not what I would call an actual trail down there. If you Zoom and Enhance right at the horizon, you can see a bit of the observation deck showing how far down we had to go.

And here’s Auckland!

More Auckland!

Here’s a great view of the Harbour Bridge.

Another view of Motutapu.

You might think that we’re done now, but on the trip back the Hauraki Gulf still had one more treat in store for us.

A few playful orcas decided to follow us back to the ferry terminal and give an impromptu show in the harbor. So that’s another first for me…I’d never seen orcas in the wild before! So cool.

And that was Rangitoto. It’s such a fabulous trip, and it was lovely to share it with friends. I hope you enjoyed reading about it!

Piha Beach

Last time, as you might recall, we visited the spectacular Kitekite Falls in the Waitakeres. Just a short jaunt West from the falls is Piha Beach, my next destination.

Piha Beach is recognizable by, among other things, Lion Rock (so named because, if you turn your head just right and forgot your glasses, it looks like a lion). Let’s Zoom and Enhance to see it better:

You can actually climb up part of Lion Rock, which is definitely a fun little climb. I did it the last time I was here, so I gave it a miss this time.

Driving to Piha Beach involves some pretty exciting mountain roads, including the last few kms in which you shed a rather precipitous amount of elevation in a remarkably short time. I recommend using engine braking where possible to keep your discs from overheating! Last time I came here I was with my friend Brendon, and by the time we got to the carpark we could smell his brakes.

Parking is fairly plentiful even in summertime, and if you have to park a bit further away than you’d like then no harm done since you’ll be walking along the sand with the sun shining down anyway.

I managed to score a spot right behind Lion Rock (which from this angle looks even less like a lion than usual).

Piha’s natural beauty, black sands, and clear blue waters make it an incredibly beautiful destination. But it’s also known for strong rip tides and treacherous waves, so not brilliant for swimming.

I climbed up the wall to this bit here hoping to get across to the other side. I did so with ease the last time I was here, but then the tide was out. I hadn’t come with a change of clothes for swimming, so I decided to not try my luck. Which is fine, because I knew another way around.

Yep, there’s a mountain path leading up and over. I had intended to take the low route over and the high route back, but I took the high route both ways due to the tides. No worries at all, really; I’m not going to complain about getting this view twice!

The track itself is a tad overgrown in places, but it’s otherwise well maintained. And there are a couple of lookout stations with benches for resting or staring out over the lovely waves. If you make it to Piha, don’t miss this trail!

From here I suppose Lion Rock looks slightly lionish.

(Yes, the sky really was that blue in one direction and that gray in the other!)

When compared to Muriwai and Whatipu, Piha Beach is practically a bustling metropolis. There’s even a shop that will sell you some lunch. The prices may be akin to highway robbery, but you can get an entirely acceptable chicken sandwich or a basket of fish and chips.

You can also see in this shot that the total distance walked between where I parked and where I was standing when I took the photo is only about a kilometer, all told. Some of it is very much uphill, but overall there’s not really much physical exertion required to experience this scenic beauty.

If you click to embiggen and then Zoom and Enhance the bottom left corner, you will see some surfers enjoying the choppy Tasman Sea.

Moving along brings us to my favorite shot of the trip, this bit here. This beach is sort of connected to the other bit of beach, though as we saw earlier it becomes impassible by foot at high tide. At low tide, you can walk out to those rocks at the mouth of the inlet and even climb up the rock (which I did do last time; kind of scary but also fun).

Moving right along, this is the same inlet but from ground level. I left out the bits of climb in between as they’re mostly uninteresting :)

There’s also this cool little keyhole all the way through the rock to the other side! The water flows through here a little bit even at low tide.

This is the view back up the hill where we came from. As you can see, it’s steep but not very high at all. Even an American like me can pass over without difficulty :)

So that’s Piha Beach. I consider this to be one of the most fantastic spots to spend a day — or even just an afternoon! — in the Auckland Region. And, like so many fantastic things, it’s only about an hour’s drive from the city center. If you do make the trip (and I recommend it highly, in case that’s not abundantly clear), make sure you take the hour or so and stop by Kitekite Falls on your way too. You will not regret it.

And that’s all for Piha! Next time we’ll be going North. No, not up to the Northlands…straight North. To Rangitoto! Expect some great pictures of Auckland. Oh, and maybe some shots of Rangitoto itself as well :)

(Also, Merry Christmas! I’m posting this one a day earlier than I otherwise would because tomorrow is Christmas Day in New Zealand and Christmas Eve in the US.)

Kitekite Falls

The Waitakere Ranges are a veritable treasure trove for the casual (or intrepid!) explorer. In addition to picturesque hills, nice forests, and beautiful beaches, the Waitakeres boast a decent network of rivers. And when you combine rivers and hills, you get waterfalls!

I discovered Kitekite Falls a while back while searching for places to visit, but for whatever reason the timing kept not being right. Either the weather was poor, I had other commitments preventing me from spending the time to drive out so far West, or I needed to do some maintenance on my car which made it less than desirable to tackle the rather demanding mountain roads. But no longer!

The trail to the falls is an easy one. Wide, well-packed dirt with little incline to incur erosion. This is the sort of trail even the less fit (such as myself) can walk all day without breaking a sweat.

The trail occasionally abuts a stream which is, in typical New Zealand fashion, clear, peaceful, and slightly emerald-tinted. And no getting your feet wet on fords; all the crossings I saw were bridged. For being pretty far out from civilization, this is a really first-rate trail. I guess the Piha area in general is pretty tourist-centric.

The track to Kitekite is part of a larger trail network around the Piha area covering several kms. You could hike all day and not cover it all!

As we doddle along, there are some fantastic views of the Waitakere Ranges.

And then, all of a sudden, there they are! Kitekite falls!

These falls are multi-stage, and I think they’re the tallest falls I’ve seen in New Zealand (taller than Whangarei or Tongariro).

A very short detour down some stairs will take you down to the base of the falls.

And perhaps I wasn’t entirely accurate earlier when I said all the crossings had bridges. I’m not sure these two small logs really count! But crossing was still simplicity itself even for someone with as poor balance as me, so no hardship there.

Definitely worth it. Look at the colors in that pool! I love this photo! It looks like something out of a landscape book!

There’s a few places near the falls where the more adventurous explorer can climb around and maybe even get some decent shots :)

But sadly all good things must come to an end, so it’s back across the gangplank and up the stairs.

So that’s Kitekite Falls! Definitely some of the most amazing falls I’ve seen on the North Island. So pretty!

Next week we’ll head down to Piha Beach and see the sights there. See you soon!

A quick glimpse at Waiheke

Waiheke is a fairly large island off the coast of New Zealand, about a 45-minute ferry ride away. It’s known for its wineries, its beaches, and for being utterly beautiful. The Waiheke hike I did last year was one of the highlights of the trip, and at the risk of sounding either cheesy or hippie, it brought some much-needed healing of the soul.

So when a friend asked me if I wanted to join him and his brother for a cycling tour of Waiheke, I was keen. Never mind that I didn’t have a bicycle and that I in fact have not ridden a bicycle for nearly a year. What could possibly go wrong?

Lots, as it turned out. I rented a bike many sizes too small for me with extraordinarily dodgy brakes and the world’s least-comfortable seat. Add to that the exercise of muscles I had barely used for years, and it felt like a game of “the two young, fit guys wait for the old, fat guy to catch up”. My frequent lagging meant I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked. But despite my abject incompetence, we did cover a quite a bit of ground and I greatly enjoyed the chance to see more of the island than I did last time on foot. So without further ado, let’s get to Waiheke.

Pulling up to the ferry terminal, you see the lovely blue water and the rolling green hills. Two staples of Waiheke scenery!

The road climbs quite quickly, as you will notice straight away if you’re on a bike, but the lovely views will hopefully distract you from the effort it took to get up there!

Wait…isn’t that…the beach we’re going to? Man, it would be a real shame if it turned out the brakes on my rental bike were completely dodgy!

Honestly, your best bet is to ignore my complaining and focus on the views, which are unquestionably spectacular.

Woah, hello there beach!

In this direction along the coast a couple of km is W Bay and Island Bay, two amazingly beautiful sites. They can really only be reached on foot, though, so we decided to press on across the island to the South. Which, unfortunately, means going back up all that elevation we just lost. Imagine my joy.

I will gladly suffer through cycling up a large hill to get views like this. That (unlike the previous beach photos) is actually the Southern shore of Waiheke, which is cool because I never saw that bit before. Even so, we probably only covered 1/5th or so of the island as a whole!

I love the way the red bushes sort of frame this photo along the bottom.

So that’s my quick trip to Waiheke. But you know, there’s a side benefit to taking a ferry trip. And that’s some fantastic photos of Rangitoto!

This one even stars a bonus cameo of some ladies’ hair.

And of course, Auckland looks good from a boat as well!

Let’s Zoom and Enhance, while of course still managing to keep someone’s hair in the frame:

If you ever find yourself in New Zealand, you really owe it to yourself to make it out to Waiheke.

Come back next time where we see some signs, some stairs, some trees, and, oh yeah, an amazing waterfall.

A Journey South: Nikau Falls

As you may recall from the last post, I made a trip down to the Waikato Region. I had done some driving around, visited Port Waikato, and then went to have dinner with my friends. But that morning I had another adventure in a place called Limestone Downs, 20km or so South of Port Waikato.

As you can see, Limestone Downs has quite a few sheep. I even captured a video of said sheep for your amusement:

I also got to meet the real-life shepherd who was (characteristically) herding those sheep! She was very nice, and had four dogs helping her (the little dachshund from the video was not one of them; I have no idea where he came from).

A bit further along the road is a little cafe and outpost. The friendly folks here also manage tours of the nearby Nikau Caves, though I didn’t take the tour that particular day. I did, however, eat lunch here. A little pricey, but good. And let’s be honest: where else are you going to get lunch in this area?

I do quite like eating lunch at a place where the view from the back porch is a casual masterpiece. And comparing the sky with the previous photos, you’ll probably note that I had my usual luck with overcast skies clearing up just in time for me to enjoy my hike!

At the cafe, they told me of a waterfall hike I could do and even gave me a little hand-drawn map! I intended to keep it and show it here, but I can barely hold on to actually important papers so I had basically no chance with something like that. The map was better than some of the official park maps I’ve seen here in New Zealand! Not that those maps set a very high bar, but we shall speak no more on the matter….

I have literally four different photos of this bridge, and I’m not sure why. I mean, it’s a fine bridge, but I don’t know why it caught my fancy so on that particular day.

You know, I never did find out the name of this river.

Alright, not quite stairs. Still like the photo, though.

The folks in the cafe were not very excited about the waterfall trail, possibly because they make their living selling guided tours of the caves and want people to do that instead. But it’s a really nice walk! The trail is admittedly not super well marked (at two different points I wound up walking down some land which wasn’t a trail at all — I guess this is why they have the map), but the cool thing about a trail that runs along a river is that you can only get so lost before you find the river and get your bearings again.

Behind that ramshackle barn is the road I drove in on. The Waikato District is so beautiful.

At one point the trail takes you through someone’s sheep pen. There’s a stile on either end and some actual sheep in the middle. I prefer forest and river to pasture land, but the rolling hills of the Limestone Downs are certainly easy on the eyes.

Yep, still following the river.

This little stable, or shack, or whatever it was has not weathered the elements well.

Then you round a corner and HEYO! Waterfall.

I like to refer to this sort of waterfall as a comb-over, since it’s looking a little thin and threadbare in places :)

It falls into a tiny pool before running along to become that respectable-size river.

I even did a bit more climbing and found this, which is probably not the exact source of the river but is pretty neat.

So that was my excursion into the Limestone Downs! That whole area has so much more to see and experience, but at least I got a little glimpse.

The Waikato Region was utterly enchanting, with its rustic beauty and scenic charms. Maybe put some tarmac down on that one road, but overall it’s got a good thing going. Not much in the way of civilization, certainly, but for some that’s desirable, or at least a reasonable tradeoff. But whether it’s a quick visit or a longer trek, I heartily recommend this Southerly stretch as worthy of any explorer’s time and attention.

A Journey South: Onewhero and Port Waikato

It’s always helpful to build friendships while traveling. Aside from the obvious reason that friends are fantastic for their own sake, locals will often be a great source of inspiration for where to visit. Come Sunday, I’m often interrogating my friends for ideas about places to explore on Monday. And a few months ago, I had this text conversation:

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But then some time later, another friend from the church (her dad, actually) asked me to help him move some stuff on his family’s farm. I figured it would be as good an excuse as any to get down there.

The area I traveled to is outside the Auckland Region. It’s in a region called Waikato, named for the Waikato River. The Waikato is the longest river in New Zealand, and it flows North for most of its journey!

My friend was being a little overly dramatic regarding the lack of entertainment in the area. I will say though that the particular area I went to has really nothing much in the way of civilization, even in the way of towns. That’s OK by me, as I don’t travel to see towns!

Waikato is basically the Shire, but with more sheep. It’s covered in beautiful, rolling hills.

It was a Sunday afternoon that I was helping my friend move some stuff around. He kindly drove me down and back. On Monday I started my adventure even further South, which I’ll cover in the next post. And then I drove to Port Waikato, which is the subject of this one.

Google Maps was designed by engineers living outside of San Francisco. I’ve been out that way over a dozen times myself, and it is the epitome of modern living, without many dirt roads. So while Google’s navigation system will find you a route, it does nothing to tell you what sort of route it has found you.

In my case, from the Limestone Downs to Port Waikato it found me the Port Waikato – Waikaretu Road (helpfully named after the two towns it connects). I was on this road for about 20 km, and for at least 16 of those kilometers it was a narrow, dusty gravel road. For those 16 km I never even made it out of third gear. The only other vehicles I saw were big 4x4s, and I’m sure their drivers were laughing at me in my little Italian roadster. I made it, but I definitely needed some place to relax and recover my wits afterward.

Thankfully, Port Waikato has just the place in the form of Cobourne Reserve, a tranquil little park right where the Waikato River empties into the Tasman Sea.

I could seriously spend all day here just soaking in the peacefulness!

The Reserve is lovingly maintained and full of nearly every color of flower one could wish for! I even found some more of the Orange Clivia I liked so much in the Auckland Domain!

Thinking back over that drive, I get tense. But looking at this scenery just melts that tension away.

If you want to see more of Port Waikato — and I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you decided the Cobourne Reserve was sufficient and just stayed there — you can walk down the road a fairly short way to see the beach. On the way there, you will also see this nice pink tree!

You will also walk by some local artwork on exhibit. I didn’t frame it well, since as usual I cared more about capturing the hill and the sky than the sculptures, but those gray stones in the background are meant to be four fingers and a thumb sticking up from the earth.

Welcome to Sunset Beach!

There are some lovely rolling hills overlooking the beach! You can see a sort of walking track along the side of the hill; I intended to go along that track, but ended up getting in a conversation with a local instead which lasted long enough that I had to get going.

Before heading off to my friends’ place for dinner, though, I did manage to walk along the beach a bit. As with many of the Western beaches, this one is a black sand beach.

Sadly, I did not get a chance to see the eponymous sunset; I hear it’s gorgeous.

So that’s the Waikato Region, or at least some of it. We’ll stick around here next time and see some more of this amazingly beautiful area.

Meet Auckland: The Auckland Domain

It’s all well and good to go gallivanting ’round the countryside, but in this post I want to take some time to show you something a little closer to home. The Auckland Domain is so close to the city center I really don’t even need a car to get there!

By this point, you should not be particularly surprised to hear that the Auckland Domain is on an extinct volcano.

Surrounded by this peaceful park is the Auckland Museum (properly called the Auckland War Memorial Museum). On the ground floor is a brilliant look into Maori culture, complete with live shows and fresh, rotating exhibits. Up on the second floor (or the first floor, for the Kiwis reading this) is a natural history museum, with exhibits covering native flora and fauna (present and past) as well as New Zealand’s geology. Be sure not to miss the volcano simulator; I’ll say no more about it lest I ruin the experience!

And then on the top floor is the eponymous war memorial, which is…moving. If you get an opportunity to experience it, I recommend you do so. I dislike it when museums seem to almost glory in war, and while there are a couple of exhibits here which hint in that direction, I would say that overall the war memorial rather glories in peace.

Moving back outside to the grounds of the Domain, there is a pleasant little gazebo. This structure is not only useful in itself, it is also quite helpful for orienting oneself when finding one’s way around for the first time! I took these photos on my third visit to the Auckland Domain and I still found myself popping out at an unexpected bit of road at one point after taking the wrong branch of a trail.

This statue is supposed to represent the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, but from this angle it looks like Cain is fleeing the tree which just killed his brother.

The Domain is more than just a simple park, though. There are walking trails which, if you didn’t know any better, would be equally at home up in the Northlands!

True to form, I jumped over this fence to inspect this creek more closely.

To look at these photos, you would never know that they were taken right outside the city center less than a kilometer from the motorway!

I think these flowers are called Orange Clivia. I am quite fond of orange, and I like these flowers as well!

There’s also a lake with a fountain. Well, lake might be a bit of an overreach, but at least a large pond.

If you pop out of the Domain, perhaps because you took the wrong fork in a path, you may very well wind up just a short walk up a hill from this ornate building.

Don’t be fooled by the funky exterior; this is, in fact, the Auckland High Court!

All the elements of this photograph cooperated to make some quite nice color contrasts.

So that’s the Auckland Domain (and a quick jaunt into some of the surrounding area). It’s a nice place to go for a peaceful afternoon stroll, or stop by to see the museum if you’re keen to learn more about New Zealand’s history, culture, and geology.

All this jaunting around the city is nice, but I think it’s time to go for a proper adventure. I’ve been East; that took me to the Hunua Ranges.  I’ve been West to the Waitakere Ranges. And I’ve been up North to Whangarei. So I think it’s about time I headed South.

A quick tour of the North Shore

As mentioned in the last post, the city of Auckland is divided by the Waitemata Harbour. One crosses from the city to the North Shore by taking Motorway 1 across the Harbour Bridge.

The North Shore is a very cool place. It’s also quite a large place, in its own right, and exploring it would take a while. From the cozy little town of Devonport (one of my favorite places!) to the up-and-coming suburb of Albany and from Long Bay to Kauri Point, there’s a lot of ground to cover. But I’ve got to start somewhere, so after peeking under the Harbour Bridge, I drive up to Takapuna Beach.

The beach offers a nice view of Rangitoto!

Also a nice look into Auckland with the Harbour Bridge in the foreground. I used another picture from Takapuna Beach as the intro photo for the last post :)

I stopped by a nearby food joint called the Burger Bach (pronounced “batch”; it’s like a beach house) and picked up some tasty morsels for lunch. It may be the…hmm…perhaps third best burger place I’ve tried in Auckland? Should I post a list of the best burger places? Anyway, there are some picnic tables and benches, but they were all in use so I sat on a concrete wall. I avoided taking pictures of people, as is my wont, but some of them snuck in without my permission.

After walking around Takapuna Beach for a while, I ambled  on up to Killarney Park, on the Southern shore of the vaguely heart-shaped Lake Pupuke.

Some of Auckland’s ubiquitous ducks were in attendance.

The park was quite pleasant. Compared to Auckland’s beaches, the larger lakes such as Lake Taupo, or even the similarly-sized Lake Rotopounamu, I did not fine Pupuke to be high on my list of must-see attractions. But it is nice and peaceful and makes a good complement to a park such as this one.

I then drove to the other side of the lake and visited Sylvan Park. Like its Southerly counterpart, Sylvan Park was pleasant and peaceful and…well, also a bit boring. So sorry! Maybe I just wasn’t in a park mood that day.

The park did have these winding paths — I hesitate to call them trails, since they are quite short — which facilitated the sort of meditative strolling that parks are quite pleasant for.

Having given Pupuke all the time I felt it deserved, I then drove down to the, er, South shore of the North Shore to the Chelsea Estate Heritage Park. Chelsea Park is on Chelsea Bay and is adjacent to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery. One might assume there’s a family by the name of Chelsea who are quite wealthy, but the refinery was named after Chelsea, England. Boring.

I parked actually at the refinery itself, which is a quite cool building. Even after the rainy start I had enough confidence in the weather to leave the top down!

As you can see from the trademark New Zealand Vaguely Useful Map three pictures up, the refinery borders a reservoir as well as the Bay. Both are nice.

Unlike the two parks, which left me barely whelmed, the Chelsea Reserve was quite enjoyable. Some hiking around yielded a peek through the trees at yet another view of Auckland.

Pausing briefly from my obsession with my current place of residence, I took a photo of the reservoir from the same vantage point.

I found the dam for the reservoir. I believe this sort of dam is called a weir. I deeply wanted to fiddle with the valve wheel, but it was locked to prevent folks like me from messing with it.

There’s also this odd sculpture thing, made from bits of old industrial machinery. I like the framing of this shot *pats self on back*.

So that was my little jaunt up to the North Shore. I hope some of it was interesting!

You know, I haven’t really posted anything similar about Auckland Central. So next week we’re going to explore a little bit inside the city.