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  • Writer's pictureJenny

Days 92-94 Onehunga to Mercer

Day 92 ~ Walked: 31 km ~ Start: Onehunga ~ End: Manakau (km 641)

Easy flat walking today so we managed to get through 31km over about 9 hours. I was in two minds about todays walk. Part of me wanted to find a more direct route into Manakau (only 13km by road) but I was also curious to see what was on all the land surrounding the airport. It didn’t sound overly appealing in the notes; sewage works, farms, sludge ponds, stone fields, industrial parks, but we followed the prescribed route.

We started out on the Mangere bridge into Mangere Bridge. Our bridge was under the road bridge but they’re building a new pedestrian bridge which looks quite fancy. (Being built from a temporary bridge). So many bridges in one spot!

Then we were on the Manakau harbour foreshore track that went for quite some way.

Being a Saturday morning there were lots out and about exercising including big pelotons of cyclists doing road circuits.

I was also fascinated by the lava flows edging the harbour. It was like extra thick cake mixture or fudge just when it’s poured.

Next we were into Ambury Regional park which seemed to be a council owned sheep farm with a few historic structures around.

The sewage treatment plant area was actually very pleasant due to the abundant bird life around on the harbour side - and there was no smell. There were flocks of godwits, many oyster catchers, kingfishers, herons and plenty of others I can’t identify. It was a birdwatchers paradise - I may need to come back and watch them all properly. There was also bird hides and roost islands.

It was also interesting to read that the sterile water from the treatment plant is released on the outgoing tide at a rate of 25 tonnes a second making it Aucklands largest river!

Aucklands largest river? Not flowing as tide not going out

There was a bit more farmland with historical rock walls, before coming out onto the road.

I was interested to see the freely available avocado orchard. One family was heading there just after we went past.

Free avos - behind the pines

The road we came out onto was in the middle of the land currently being occupied under protest at Ihumātao. It was blocked off to traffic and they had a large ish fire burning (seemingly permanently) in the middle of the road. There was no one around except a young boy on a bike.

From there it was a long hot road walk to the airport itself. We had lunch at the shopping centre there. It felt very weird walking towards the airport that we’ve travelled to and from probably hundreds of times before, but always by car.

We did see some different angles of it and even spotted a modest little Erebus memorial.

Unfortunately we then had more long hot road walking towards Manakau alongside highways and through industrial areas. There were nice footpaths most of the way and the roads were fairly quiet so it wasn’t too bad. Along this stretch we ticked over our 1500km which means we’re exactly halfway to Bluff.

A very exciting milestone. I’m thinking we should be able to do our second half a bit quicker but we’ll see. We’ll need to if we want to complete it before it gets to cold down south!!

Day 93 ~ Walked: 22 km ~ Start: Manakau ~ End: Bombay (km 670)

Today was the most uninspiring day of the trail so far, but I guess there has to be one day taking that honour.

We started out early again to walk as much as possible in the cooler hours. We were on a riverside walk into the botanical gardens which I’d been quite looking forward to.

But the ‘river’ was more of a drain and then we skirted around the outside of the gardens and were out of them without seeing anything of interest. As we had a longish day ahead we didn’t bother going back in for more of a wander around. Will have to come back for that.

From there it was road walking all the way through Takanini, Papakura, Drury, and Ramarama to reach Bombay. We had lots of houses to look at but unfortunately weren’t nearly as interesting as those of the north shore. At least there were footpaths so it was pretty mindless. I listened to podcasts and an audio book for the first time to date.

We stopped for morning tea at a dairy and sat at a school entrance, and lunch from a bakery in Drury eaten in the park.

The best thing I saw all day was a field of sunflowers but they were past their best and didn’t photograph so well.

We did walk through the huge land development of south Drury which was interesting. All the roads and infrastructure - even functioning traffic lights, was in place but the land was all bare apart from a couple of small streets of new housing.

We stayed at a beautiful b&b near the Bombay motorway service centre so wandered over there for McDonald’s for dinner. As we’re nearing the southern border of Auckland it’s interesting to note the progression of the dining options we’ve had along the way. From fine dining in Orewa and Milford, rooftop dining in Newmarket, pub in Onehunga, Lonestar in Manakau and MacDonalds in Bombay.

Our b&b is in a nice country setting amongst the market gardens and the first taste of being out of the city.

As always it’s nice to have a change of scenery and am looking forward to it. Although our accommodation options might also now have to change and I will miss our twice daily showering and almost daily clothes washing.

Day 94 ~ Walked: 25 km ~ Start: Bombay ~ End: Mercer (km 695)

We set off with some hard boiled eggs for our lunch courtesy of the chickens on the property. Our first day of countryside walking started with a hill (Mt William 373m). I’m thankful our timing is working that these hills start in the morning. It was fairly little by previous standards and was a nice grass track up.

The 360 degrees views from the top were impressive (although don’t photograph well as to far away). We could see the city and sky tower, the Waitakere ranges, Mt Pirongia that we’ll be climbing next week, and Ruapehu.

A nice little forest walk on the descent, then 5km along a very busy SH2 so we got a little hitch for that. Next was a long farm walk along stop banks.

It was midday so stinking hot by this stage. There was no shelter whatsoever, so we just kept walking till we could find some to have our lunch break.

A little of this (hopefully) water sprinkled on us and cooled us for a minute

It wasn’t till the end of the 5km+ of stop banks and happened to be next to the Archimedes Screw which is what keeps the water out of the farmland that would have otherwise been a swamp. Would have loved to see it spring into action but in these drought like conditions wouldn’t be too often.

The last couple of km into Mercer went alongside and under SH1.

It was a weedy overgrown sort of path but very thankful for it as we could barely see the traffic that was so close to us.

Spotted the 1.5km to Mercer sign through the bushes

Another night at a motorway service centre but a motel this time. We had dinner at the Muddy Waters Irish pub overlooking the muddy waters of the Waikato.

There was quite a busy rowing training session going on with a lot of boats on the water. Who even knew Mercer had a rowing club - there may have even been two clubs as there was activity and buildings on both sides of the river.

We have now officially done with the Auckland region and are into the Waikato.

Day 92 ~ Walked: 31 km ~ Start: Onehunga ~ End: Manakau (km 641)

Day 93 ~ Walked: 22 km ~ Start: Manakau ~ End: Bombay (km 670)

Day 94 ~ Walked: 25 km ~ Start: Bombay ~ End: Mercer (km 695)

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William Fuller
William Fuller
Jan 18, 2022

Inreresting read. Different course than ours! No Hunua Range. Off to Puketi again today. 21 km walk there tomorrow.

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