Auckland City Council’s new 2.5km coastal walkway on Waiheke Island starts near the Mudbrick Restaurant in Oneroa. Rising sharply from the beach to give cliff-top views, it traces the entire coastline of Park Point peninsula. The walk cuts through open country and mature native bush and walkers will be able to spot rare native birds such as dotterels, see mature kowhai trees and look across to Motuihe Island.
Beginning at the end of Cable Bay Lane, walk down the track to Cable Bay. Follow the track around the coast through Park Point, Matarahui Bay, Matarahui Point and on to Te Wharau Bay. The track from Te Wharau Bay to Walter Frank Drive completes the loop back to Cable Bay Lane. The entire route should take about two hours to complete.
Look out for the numbered yellow disks around the walkway. The information below corresponds with the discs and tells you about each of these places.
- Greater Te Huruhi, including all land west of Surfdale, was one of the last areas of Māori (Ngati Paoa) land on Waiheke, not being subdivided until 1914. Park Point was part of this area and was used mainly for grazing.
When it did come into Pakeha ownership, subdivision was hindered due to lack of road access. As privately owned farmland there was no formal public access, but recent subdivision and development has led to the creation of a right-of-way. For the first time, walkers can now discover this coastline.
- Rhamnus is a particularly invasive weed on the Waiheke coastline. Spread by birds, it competes with native trees and can grow rapidly into medium-sized trees. It has holly-shaped leaves.
- The Park Point peninsula extends so far into the Sergeant Channel that you almost feel like your could reach out and touch Motuihe Island.
Motuihe Island has been a quarantine station, a health camp and where infamous World War I captain Count Felix von Luckner was detained. It is now being transformed, thanks to replanting by the Department of Conservation.
- Keep an eye out for mushrooms particularly from May to August. These are poisonous, so please don’t touch!
- From August to October, the beautiful large flowers of the kowhai tree and the clematis vine are on display. Clematis are white and kowhai are bright yellow.
- An old pohutukawa with drooping heavy branches welcomes you into Matarahui Bay. Walk respectfully as you keep an eye out for the rare New Zealand dotterel (they are shy birds that nest along the shoreline). See if you can spot wild chives growing in a creek.
- Look over to Matarahui Point from the track and see if you can find midden (historic māori waste site) in the soil. The trench would have been a Māori defence fortification during times of battle post-1800s – there are earthworks evident throughout this area. See if you can identify them.
- Here you will find a remnant of mature native forest. Trees such as kowhai, kanuka, puriri, kohekohe and of course the granddaddy pohutukawas.
- Peering from Te Wharau Bay reveals Maunganui Point on the other side. In the early 1900s a small pa (māori settlement) was situated here.
After the First World War, many of the 20 Māori in the area suffered from the flu epidemic. The Parris family living in the bay helped nurse the sick and bury the dead.
- As you enter Te Wharau Bay and look to the right of the beach, you will see strange shapes in the sand. Let your imagination run wild… could it be the bones of a large whale, or maybe the skeleton of an old abandoned boat?
- In the early 1900s, sand and shingle boat owner/operator JJ Craig owned Te Wharau Bay. He had teams of draught horses hauling heavy loads off his boats in Auckland. What better place for a bit of rest and recuperation than Waiheke Island?
Horses would be brought over on the scows and could roam free over the hills before returning to their heavy labour in the big city. William Parris managed the land here from 1916 to 1922 and was an important part of the community assisting the local Māori in the area, particularly on the Te Wharau Point (assumed to be Maunganui Point).
- From left to right you can see Kennedy Point headland, over to the east coast of Auckland – Duder Regional Park, Maraetai and Beachlands, through to the eastern beaches in Howick.