A return to Shakespear Regional Park: The views and the birds

Welcome back!

As you may recall, I’m revisiting the fantastic Shakespear Regional Park. Last post, which you should really check out first if you haven’t already, showed the walk that I did around the peninsula. This post is showing off the things I saw on that walk, first of the scenic variety and then of the avian variety.

No time like the present, so let’s get cracking!

The Views

It is, I must admit, almost trivially easy to get lovely photos no matter where you point your camera. On Whangaparaoa Peninsula, you are almost always within view of the gulf.

Even if you point back toward the mainland, the peninsula zigs and zags in such interesting ways that you can’t help but get some interesting geography in your shot!

The bit sticking out here is part of Whangaparaoa Peninsula but not part of Shakespear Park. It’s a bit South of the town.

Of course, Rangitoto is visible from the park as well, and no scenery post would be complete without it.

Taking a bit of a closer look, we see in this shot I managed to find some sailboaters!

Zooming and Enhancing ™ even further, it is quite a lovely day for a bit of a sail, don’t you think?

While no Rangitoto, some other sailboats (or, possibly, the same ones, I suppose!) proved diverting photographic targets all on their own!

One sailed by when I was down on Pink Beach as well. I love how flat that horizon looks!

I’m not quite sure which bit of mainland this is a photo of, but it appears to be smoking!

This is Tiritiri Matangi Island, the island tossed by the wind.

A bit of zoom shows the lighthouse and ranger station. I still think back with great fondness on the night I was able to spend on that island.

Another thing I quite like is to get photos with Rangitoto and the city in the same shot.

And I suppose I’ll end this section with a photo of Auckland itself. Though I do remember my time on Tiritiri with great nostalgia, this is the photo that really sets my heart to yearning. Auckland City will always be very special to me.

The Birds

So enough maudlin. Let’s look at some birds. On this hike I actually talked to two council workers whose job it was to walk around the park and count how many of the various types of birds they saw. That sounds like a fantastic job, though as far as I know they were volunteers. I think being a professional bird counter would be a pretty fun gig.

Almost right through the gate, I saw the fattest wood pigeon I’ve ever seen!

I’m not sure this thing could actually fly, which is probably why it let me get so close without taking to wing.

I’m not entirely sure what this bird is. The head striping makes me think maybe a cirl bunting, but you could convince me it was a yellowhammer instead. Too bad the bird counting guys weren’t around to help me out.

(Edit: A kind Redditor called, appropriately, screamingkaka identified it as a greenfinch, an assessment which I agree with after looking them up. Thanks mate!)

This is a song thrush. Not usually featured here because they’re both nonnative and very common, but since I had gone to the trouble of getting a photo I figured I might as well post it :)

Fantail, or as the Maori (and I) call them, piwakawaka. These cute little birds are also quite common, but they are native, and they’re so adorable and iconic that I can’t help but photograph them.

Brown quail. These little guys are an oddity in that they’re non-native, but it seems efforts are still made to protect them. They were introduced from Australia, and they don’t particularly seem to like it in New Zealand. They’re pretty rare most places, but in Shakespear and Tiritiri they seem to have found a home.

Sacred kingfisher. Cool little native birds noted for their hunting skills.

Now. I’m walking along the shoreline, approaching the beach. And I see this:

Up until this point, I’ve seen some pretty interesting birds in Shakespear and have even photographed some, but to see not one but two Eastern rosellas is just fantastic.

Even more fantastic is that these two seem willing to let me sneak up reasonably close.

Much like the rainbow lorikeet, about which I have written much already, the Eastern rosella came from Australia. The NZ population is largely comprised of escaped pets and these birds are common enough to be tolerated rather than encouraged. But I personally have never photographed one before.

No doubt to a proper New Zealand ornithologist, this is not an exciting sight. But to me, it capped off an amazing hike. I was so glad to not only get a chance to see these colorful birds but photograph them as well!

And with that, I must bid farewell. Not just to Shakespear, but to New Zealand as well. Shakespear was my last solo hike before heading back to North Carolina.

I may have done a hike or two since coming back, though. Keep an eye on this space…maybe you’ll see some photos from this side of the world at some point. Until then!

A return to Shakespear Regional Park: The Walk

No, I haven’t (yet) returned to New Zealand. But I have returned to this blog to post some photos that didn’t make it before my move.

Longtime readers (hi mom) may remember my my first trip to Shakespear Regional Park, which was great. I wound up with a clear early Spring day soon before my move, so I decided to revisit that lovely location.

This post is covering the walk that I did. I’ll post some views in the next one. There may be a bird or two in there as well!

I began my journey at the same place as last time: Army Bay. Although you have to take a very short walk to get to the trails, there are some very nice views which more than make up for it.

The majority of the park is enclosed by a predator fence and protected by an airlock. Shakespear is a bird sanctuary, which makes sense given its proximity to Tiritiri Matangi. Birds can (and often do) fly between the peninsula and the island. The fence helps ensure they don’t get eaten in either location.

Looking back at the gates, you can see the town of Whangaparaoa in the background. It’s a quaint little town, though it’s also the reason why getting to the park takes so long.

Once through the gates, the trail quickly enters an area of fairly heavy forest. The track here is very well-marked and is paved with gravel.

Crossings, of which there are a few, are bridged.

Bits that might get too slick or unstable are covered in boardwalk. This first bit is certainly well-maintained! It leads up to…

…Waterfall Gully!

These falls do not, as near as I can tell, have a name.

I’m a slightly better photographer than I was last time around, but the tricky lighting still makes getting good shots difficult. I tried for a long exposure, but the light meant that this is the best I could do. C’est la vie.

Leaving the gully, a quick jaunt up some wooden stairs leads to a bridge. The greenery here is so vibrant you might think this is an HDR photo captured by my phone, but nope. It’s just that green!

Not too far across the bridge, the trail leaves the forest. Most of the rest of the hike will be out in open fields like this.

That’s a good thing, because it allows easy viewing of the scenery!

Also good for sheep, who true to form inhabit this park en masse. I took this hike during lambing season, so there were some cute babies walking around.

In the distance, I spied an achievement lurking. I decided not to climb up to it though, since I had a more important task at hand:

Hiking this windy trail.

As is constant in the Hauraki Gulf, Rangitoto sits presiding over the bay.

Also present and presiding: cows.

I don’t interfere with the animals so long as they don’t interfere with me. I took this photo with the big lens.

While we’re on the subject: have a photo of some lambs.

The trail runs alongside some of the NZ military’s land. You don’t want to mess about climbing fences unless you’re sure of where you are.

Fortunately, these days New Zealand is quite peaceful. I love seeing these cows alongside this old lookout post.

On the far side of the peninsula near Tiritiri Island is Pink Beach. I was lucky enough to catch the tide at just the right place to make this cool effect.

I ventured down to the beach to take some up-close photos. You don’t want to walk out on this stuff.

You can tell when you’ve reached the halfway point and started to turn back when you see back along the peninsula toward the town. This is the South coast of Whangaparaoa, and the beach is along Te Haruhi Bay.

Let’s check it out!

This bit of trail is a little confusing, and the map is not helpful. The trail runs along the beach, so if you get a bit turned around you can just walk to the beach via whichever way seems the most expedient (keeping in mind that the ground in this area does get a bit marshy).

It’s a really nice day, but surprisingly the beach is not very well-populated. I stuck a toe in the water, and given how chilly it was the lack of attendance becomes a bit less surprising :)

You have to keep alert; this red blaze is what you’re looking for. This is where the trail departs the beach, and if you’re not keeping your eyes peeled you could easily miss it (the nice older lady I hiked part of this trail with last time I was here did exactly that; it was at this point that we started walking together because I helped her re-orient herself).

Once off the beach, you will find yourself at a campground. This makes a nice place to stop and rest; there are picnic tables, restrooms, and even clean water for refilling your bottle should you need it.

Speaking of being turned around, you might recall that last time I went the wrong way back. This time I found the correct route, which took me up the Western edge of the Lookout Track. If you see the old woolshed, you’re going the right way.

The trail is, unfortunately, quite bad here. Experienced NZ hikers will likely be able to tell that this innocuous looking grass is really mostly marshland.

The good news is, there’s a road that runs parallel to the trail up this same hill. Take my advice: go up the road rather than up the trail. You’re not going to miss anything.

You can rejoin the Lookout Trail once you’re up the hill, or you can veer to your left, keep following the road, and meet the Heritage Trail about where it exits the park gates. I was in no hurry, so I stuck with the Lookout Trail and went the long way around.

This route also meant that I got to see the WWII pillbox again, not that with the fantastic views and the other great stuff I saw I was all that enamored with this hunk of military concrete.

Your trip back will border this stream. The trail becomes a little confusing in parts, but keep your eye out for blazes and consult your map if you’re feeling lost.

So that’s Shakespear Park! I know it’s the same walk as last time, but I hope I was able to find some additional things to show you that make up for the repeat!

Stop by next time when I’ll be posting some additional photos from this trip. I’ve even got something really special to show you, so be sure you don’t miss it! See you then!