Parks

Coast to Coast Walkway


Introduction

The Coast to Coast walk is a 16km hike across Auckland from one coast to the other, from the Waitemata to the Manukau. It takes you through landscapes shaped by 600 years of Māori occupation, and through some of our finest natural and built heritage areas offering panoramic views along the way. The walkway is part of Te Araroa - The Long Pathway, a continuous 3000km walking track from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

See the Coast to Coast map below or download the map (PDF 187KB).

Auckland has long been known as Tamaki Makaurau - the spouse desired by a hundred lovers. All who saw it for its fertile volcanic slopes sheltered fishing sites and access to the greatest waterway in New Zealand, the Waikato River, desired it.

The Auckland isthmus is New Zealand's narrowest neck of land, never more than 9km from north to south and less than 2km east to west. Given the distance, Māori used these as canoe portages, from the Waitemata Harbour and Pacific Ocean on one side, to the Manukau Harbour and Tasman Sea on the other.

 

Route

The walk from the Viaduct Harbour along Customs Street takes you along reclaimed land. Catch glimpses of the Waitemata Harbour, the Māori name that means 'smooth and shining water', pass the Edwardian Baroque ferry terminal that has operated since 1912 and then the neo classic beautifully restored ex-Chief Post Office building, now home to the downtown bus and train terminal, Britomart.

Albert Park is the site of an old Māori village (papakainga) called Rangipuke, which once contained a defensive pā and farmland. The Meteorological Observatory is situated at the highest point of the park and has been providing recordings of weather information since 1909. Formal paths, gardens and statuary define Aucklands best preserved Victorian Park.

The Auckland Museum located strategically on a part of the Auckland Domain sits on Pukekawa, the 'hill of bitter memories', which mourns the many slain in the 1820s musket wars. The museum, built in 1929, honours those who also died in the first world war.

As you leave the Auckland Domain from the Carlton Gore exit, do not forget to visit Outhwaite Park on the other corner of this intersection. Outhwaite, once a volcanic knoll was also home, from the 1840's to Auckland's first Supreme Registrar, Thomas Outhwaite and his French wife Louise. The trees date back to this period.

Maungawhau (Mt Eden) is the tallest volcano in Auckland, reaching 196 metres. The slopes of Maungawhau were once densely populated by Māori that shaped the hills steep scarps, terraces and kumara pits. The crater of Maungawhau is known as the food bowl of Matāoho. In 1841, Apihai Te Kawau defined from the summit the boundaries of his 3000 acre gift of land to the Crown that established the city of Auckland. Part of the walk around Maungawhau includes an old Māori trail - Aratakihaere.

Located on the slopes and adjacent to Maungawhau is Eden Gardens. In the 1960s, a team of volunteers created the Eden Gardens out of an old quarry site. Today Maungawhau is still cared for by many volunteers who dedicate their time to preserving the unique nature of the volcano.

Melville Park, located between St Andrews Road and Gillies Avenue, was established as part of the make work scheme of the 1930's Great Depression. The park is now home to Auckland women's hockey and cricket including a croquet club.

Sir John Logan Campbell, one of New Zealand's first European settlers, gifted the One Tree Hill estate to the people of New Zealand in 1901. He presented his gift during a Royal tour by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall - hence the name of the park. Sir Campbell is buried on the summit of Maungakiekie, with a statue commemorating him located on the grounds as you enter Puriri Drive. Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill Domain together make up 220 hectares of Auckland's most striking landscape. Acacia Cottage, located in the heart of Cornwall Park, was the home of Sir Campbell, and built in 1841 it is Auckland's oldest wooden house. Huia Lodge, built in 1903 the Queen Anne Revival style is now the Park Visitor Centre.

Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) is the largest and most complex volcanic cone fortress in the southern hemisphere. It has hundreds of terraces, food store pits, defensive ditches and banks that for centuries supported a population of 5000 people. This 183m volcano has three craters and a lava field that extends to the Manukau foreshore. Waiohua, the Ngati Whatua Māori fashioned a huge defensive pā here, terracing every slope.

In 1912, John James Boyd opened a zoo in Onehunga. It was popular until neighbours started noticing a smell from the property. Later a lion escaped and although it harmed no one, it created sufficient fear to pressure the zoo to close in 1922. The animals were given to the Auckland Zoo.

The Onehunga Blockhouse, located in Jellicoe Park, is one of 10 small forts build in 1860 to protect Onehunga residents from perceived attacks by Māori. Both houses are open to the public on the first and third Sunday of each month from 1.30pm to 4pm.

Onehunga has the distinction of electing the first woman Mayor in the British Empire, Mrs Elizabeth Yates, in 1893.

 


The volcanoes

The walkway passes five volcanic sites. Albert Park, now a green shoulder of the Central Business District, is a small, now barely-recognisable volcano. The Domain volcano retains its central scoria cone, called Pukekaroa, and the smooth encircling mound from its initial eruption - the tuff ring. The walkway crosses the scoria cone and exits over the tuff ring to sidle past an adjacent scoria cone at Outhwaite Park. Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) has three craters, two breached and one intact. The Coast to Coast walkway passes over the 183m high summit.

Regarded as still active, Auckland's volcanic field is geologically young, having produced mainly small-sized cones. Its pocket-sized volcanoes first erupted through the underlying isthmus rock over 50,000 years ago.

Many rock walls made from the extracts of the old lava flows shape the trail’s approach to Maungawhau (Mt Eden). To see a remnant of the old field and its original forest cover, follow the detour marked on the map. The trail crosses Maungawhau summit, at 196 metres the highest summit in the isthmus. The summit crater is virtually unmodified.

 


The city’s people

Fertile volcanic slopes, access to sheltered fishing sites, strategic command of land routes, access to sea routes on either coast, and to the greatest inland waterway in New Zealand (Aotearoa), the Waikato River, gave the isthmus its Māori renown. The Māori name, Tamaki Makau Rau - the spouse desired by a hundred lovers - reflects that renown. As they contended for control of the isthmus, the tribes reshaped the volcanic cones into formidable pā sites.

In 1840, New Zealand's first Governor, Captain William Hobson, acquired some 3000 acres of isthmus land from the Ngati Whatua chiefs, a triangle whose base stretched some 12km along the Waitemata southern shore and whose apex was the summit of Maungawhau (Mt Eden).

Aside from the colonial governors, the best-known early Aucklander was the Scot, John Logan Campbell. An adventurer and one of the first Auckland settlers, he became the city's most prominent businessman and mayor. He gifted Cornwall Park to the people of Auckland, with the park still run by a trust he helped to establish. As the walkway enters the park, it passes a statue of Campbell. His grave, with the Latin inscription si monumentum requiris circumspice - 'If you want a memorial, look about you' - is on the summit of Maungakiekie.

Auckland is ethnically diverse, containing some 181 different ethnic groups, in marked contrast to other parts of the Auckland region and the country as a whole.

 


The urban landscape

A warm climate, good rainfall and generous property sizes have encouraged an urban forest of mixed native and exotic trees with gardens at their feet. Street and park plantings date back to the 19th century. The oaks, often grown from acorns from English estates, and the plane trees brought from London reflect the colonial heritage. The distinctive pinnate shape of the Norfolk pines reflects Auckland's sea-route beginnings - brought to early Auckland in tubs and sold by sailors. Many native trees also prevail in the parks.

The city's early merchants built grand verandahed villas in Princes Street, establishing what would become, alongside the later bungalows, a prevailing architectural pattern.

Native birds include the iridescent blue kingfishers (kotare), fantail (piwakawaka), and tui - distinguished by a white throat tuft and a melodious call, and the large wood pigeon (kereru).

Whau trees, whose wood are as light as balsa and were once used by Māori for net floats, still grow on Maungawhau (the hill of the whau tree). The trail passes a small forest of Totara and Rimu on the old volcano's southern slopes and Cornwall Park's many native trees include an avenue of Puriri, which the trail follows, and a young kauri grove. You will see introduced bird species en route, including the sparrow, blackbird, the thrush and rock pigeons in the parks. Sizeable grassy areas attract the large black and white magpie and the bright green and red rosella, both Australian immigrants.

 


Coast to Coast map
 Coast to Coast Map