We woke early, eager to be off on our adventures, our first stop was Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill, so named for the lone tree that used to be on top, now removed due to concerns with public safety (why do they do that?). It is a big climb, rather steep.
For some silly reason, I seem to barely have any photos of Cornwall Park itself, I guess I was too busy trying to catch my breath! We also tried Mount Eden, which we visited last time, but you can no longer drive cars up there, so we gave up [You can see some photos from our last visit here]. We then visited Wairangi Wharf (Home Bay Beach Reserve) which is supposed to be a good spot for sunset, but the wrong position for this time of year, probably just as well, no real sunset that evening.
Then drove out to Piha Beach and Lion Rock…SO BUSY! This is about 40km from Auckland and oh my gosh going on a Sunday (which was hot) was a big mistake, took ages to find a car park and there were so many people. This is a black sand beach and extremely hot to walk on. We visited here last time too, but I don’t remember quite so many people. Lots of people trying to learn to surf as well. Too many people to safely surf I am sure.
We then drove to Bethells Beach, which is only 7km from Piha as the crow flies, but takes 45 minutes by car! Not quite as busy, but still loads of people out enjoying this lovely Sunday afternoon. Also, a very hot black sand beach, which is made of iron and silica, in the North Island the black sands are derived from volcanic rocks and dominate the 750 km of shoreline between Taranaki and Cape Rēinga in the far north. Auckland’s black sands are mined and smelted into iron.
To be honest, we were not quite sure what all the fuss was about, Bethells Beach was not quite as scenic as Piha, its a LONG walk from the car park to the water over VERY hot sand. Many people would stop part way in the creek to cool off their feet – dogs included. There is a great spot for kids to play and there is a Life Guard Station here.
We grabbed a well deserved cold drink and then headed back to Auckland. I wanted to head back to the Domain Winter Gardens, such a pretty spot with the greenhouses, fabulous hothouse flowers, lotus and bumble bees! We had spent a fair bit of time wandering the streets and seeing the sights in Auckland City last time, this time we wanted to see some new sights, but still visit a few favourites from last time. One of the things that fascinated me about NZ is the bumblebees…we don’t have them back home in Victoria, sure we found some in Tasmania, but not at home. I won’t drive you insane with a whole heap of photos, just a few and then I will do another post with all the flower shots….
We wandered the grounds, as they are setting up for their Chinese New Year Light Festival, but we would sadly miss it. Which is such a shame, as all of these installations would look truly stunning all lit up at night. (p.s. I took a close up of the goat, as I am a Year of the Goat Baby -Moth is a Dragon lol)
We finished off our first day with a fabulous Mongolian BBQ in town, then fell into bed…ready for another big day tomorrow, as we bid Auckland farewell for a few weeks.