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Mahurangi magazine

Dedicated to democratic climate-action mobilisation and the Mahurangi

Work-in-progress submission on the draft regional parks plan

author Cimino and, effectively, every reader who puts their oar in, thank you Jim, on 22 December.

Extended picnicking area, Sullivans Bay – Ōtarawao, Mahurangi Regional Park
More Regional Parkland for the People: Good things take time, particularly when regional parks funding is parsimonious. However, just in time for a summer when every metre of physical distancing will count towards mitigating covid-19 community spread, the thousands who visit Sullivans Bay – Ōtarawao will now have at least twice as much room to picnic, adjacent the southern end of the beach. The concept plan that included this and other changes was canvassed nearly five years ago. That private-light-vehicle parking is taking a back seat will alarm some, but without more equitable means of access to the 41 000-hectare regional parks network, the prime parkland will increasingly be occupied by vehicles rather than people. image Mahurangi Magazine
Wenderholm, objectively, was where it started, in 1965. While the 1729-hectare Centennial Memorial Park established in 1940 is recorded as Auckland’s first regional park, Wenderholm, in 1965, was the first of a half-century of regional parkland acquisitions that resulted in a network of 41 000 hectares, much of it coastline, and much of that, Hauraki Gulf coastline.

Because it was managed by most of the councils of Tāmaki Makaurau, Centennial Memorial Parkof the several, that in the Waitākere Ranges is technically billed as the first regional park, but it was a one-off. Wenderholm, and the on-average-every-other-year major park acquisition that followed, was thanks to regional planning backed up by regional governance. The last regional parkland purchase of the Auckland Regional Councilfrom 1963 to 1989 named Auckland Regional Authority, thereafter Auckland Regional Council. Subsumed by Auckland Council 2010 was the 383-hectare hinterland of Te Muri, immediately across the Pūhoi Estuary from Wenderholm. Wenderholm is nowsince the 2019 addition of the 92-hectare Turnbull-trusts-precipitated purchase on the Mahurangi Peninsula part of a contiguous—if intervening rivers, streams, and the Mahurangi Harbour are embraced—1000 hectares of regional parkland. A signally salubrious place, surely, to plan for the management of regional parkland appropriate for this decadeeffectively, at least 2023–2033, by the time the draft is formally adopted, but without allowing for future plan-review slippage, which can result in 10-year plans prevailing for 15. So, in all probability, until the late-2030s…, and the beyond-urgent demands of the global climate emergency, this century.

Acute awareness of the rapid post-war spread of vacation settlements targeting the east-coast beaches north of the Tāmaki Makaurau isthmus spurred the purchase of Wenderholm. Without the newly created Auckland Regional Authorityfrom 1963 to 1989 named Auckland Regional Authority, thereafter Auckland Regional Council. Subsumed by Auckland Council 2010, and the provisions of its deliberately crafted empowering legislation, Wenderholm’s fate as a coastal subdivision could not have been circumvented. Wenderholm Regional Park opened later the same year it was purchased, as an early, and instantly beloved Christmas present, 1965. What followed, almost miraculously, has set the scene for Wenderholm to head a regional-park-led revolution in how a metropolis can live, equitably, within its carbon means—at a time when climate, climate adaptation, and climate action are elsewhere combining to cruelly exacerbate societal inequity.

This draft Mahurangi Magazine submission is a work in progress, published progressively from 20 December 2021 onwards, both in the interests of painstaking transparency and in the hope that people passionate about salvaging a survivable climate, one Mahurangi regional park at a time, will contribute. This submission is being drafted with view to also being adopted as that of Mahurangi Action Incorporated, and the Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust—in whole or in part, and with or without reservations.

In the interests of readability, throughout this draft submission, Auckland Council’s Draft Regional Parks Management Plan is referred to as the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021.

Regional parks management plan submission contents
Introduction – above
1 Consciously coastal-trail-centric draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 submission
2 Mahurangi Coastal Trail – Connecting a thousand hectares of regional parkland
3 Mahurangi Coastal Trail – Background
4 Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust – Undertaking to build and gift to Tāmaki Makaurau
5 Mahurangi Coastal Trail – The route planned
6 Regional-park gateway to Te Araroa – The national walkway
7 Seventeen-kilometre Wenderholm–Te Muri–Pūhoi loop trail
8 Wenderholm Regional Park
9 Te Muri Regional Park
10 Mahurangi West Regional Park
11 Mahurangi East Regional Park – Mahurangi Peninsula
12 Mahurangi East Regional Park – Scotts Landing
13 Mahurangi Regatta test of regional-park equity of access
14 Four’s three too many – One great Mahurangi regional park
15 Responding to climate change – the “beyond-urgent” imperative
16 Sea-level rise and farewell to regional-park spit beaches
17 Equity of zero-carbon regional-park access – The Gluckman gauntlet
18 Regional-park response to population growth
19 Conclusion – Much in draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 to approve and much to improve upon
20 Summary of draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 submission specifics
21 Mahurangi Coastal Trail milestones

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1 Consciously coastal-trail-centric draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 submission

Utterly mindful that the review of the regional parks management plan is an omnibus process, this submission is an entirely consciously Mahurangi Coastal Trail-centric perspective, of the draft plan.Auckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 The value of the planned coastal trail, to the 1000 hectares of regional parkland it would ultimately link and its visitors, and to the adjacent communities connected, is so considerable that it would be perverse to fail to employ this perspective. As an exemplar to the Tāmaki Makaurau region and beyond, the case of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail provides an invaluable outside-in perspective of the potential future of the regional parks network.

The Mahurangi Magazine trusts that other submissions, both regional-park specific and general—particularly that of Friends of Regional Parks—and combinations of the specific and general, will more than comprehensively cover policy and plans ignored by this unapologetically Mahurangi Coastal Trail-centric submission.

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2 Mahurangi Coastal Trail – Connecting a thousand hectares of regional parkland
Te Muri Saddle looking northeast
Fifteen Minutes to Splendid Te Muri Isolation: Once ferried across Pūhoi Estuary, it is a mere 15 minutes—even with pauses to gaze back at Wenderholm—before the primary goal of most people walking the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, Te Muri, is a gentle 10-minute amble down to its sublime beach. image Mahurangi Magazine

The immediate goal of the planned Mahurangi Coastal Trail is to connect 1000 hectares of contiguousconsidering intervening rivers, streams, and the Mahurangi Harbour to be connecting rather than dividing regional parkland. As an almost immediate consequence of those connections, Te Araroa, the national walkway, is provided with the missing terrestrial section to Wenderholm, via the sublime Te Muri scenic ridge farm road. Simultaneously, a 17-kilometre scenic-ridge-road and Pūhoi River loop is created—powerfully complementing Pūhoi-based kayak hire services.

The ultimate goal of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail is to help catalyse a Waiwera to Waipū coastal trail of national importance. Such a trail would connect a further five regional parks, before it crossed the northern boundary of Tāmaki Makaurau.

Aside from visions of a coastal trail of national importance, the intrinsic power of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail concept is that not only does it link 1000 hectares of regional parkland, it is the only way those 1000 hectares of regional parkland can be linked, for terrestrial park visitors—kayak users, by definition, already enjoy such linkages. By road from Sullivans Bay to Martins Bay, for example, is a tortuous and often-congested 32 kilometres. By the ferry proposed, to Lagoon Bay, it is little more than a nautical mile1.27 nautical miles, or 2.35 kilometres. A coastal trail that cannot be dogged by a parallel road presents an exquisite incentive for active recreation. The sense of achievement of attaining a destination, where the reward for effort cannot be diminished by vehicles pulling up at the same spot is immense, and the public health benefit, for example, realistically quantifiable.

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should include policy to investigate how the planned Mahurangi Coastal Trail can contribute substantively to the imperatives to respond to the climate emergency, sea-level rise, equity of access, and public health on a non-trivial scale.

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3 Mahurangi Coastal Trail – Background

As alluded in the introduction, a signal opportunity exists to showcase an at-scale regional park response to the climate emergency and to the urgent need to improve equity of access, commencing at the first modernWenderholm Regional Park: the first acquired commencing a 45-year period of regional parkland acquisitions that were part-and-parcel of Tāmaki Makaurau’s first period of regional governance Tāmaki Makaurau regional park. When Wenderholm was acquired in 1965, regional park visionaries were already imagining that magnificence extend farther up the coastline, accessed by a scenic coastal road. However, even by the time the protracted process of acquiring the next section of coastline, Te Muri, was completed, the appetite for coastal-road building for scenic purposes had evaporated, assisted by the first oil crisis, in 1973. Although the community has advocated for the planned Mahurangi Coastal Trail since 1987, wider enthusiasm to realise it has only gained critical mass, marked by the 2019 memorandum of understanding between Auckland Council and the Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust. Credit for that milestone goes to Auckland Council’s Pūhoi–Pākiri trail programme, a New Zealand Walking Access Commission – New Zealand Transport Agency, Pūhoi to Warkworth project response.

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should include background information to provide the context for the planned Mahurangi Coastal Trail, linking the first and last acquisitions of the regional governance era.

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4 Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust – undertaking to build and gift to Tāmaki Makaurau

In 2015, after collaborating on the planned coastal trail for four years, Mahurangi Action and Friends of Regional Parks resolved to establish the Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust.

The Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust believes that it is a conspicuously self-evident travesty that the Mahurangi coastline preserved as regional parkland cannot be traversed, end-to-end, on foot. Mindful of Auckland Council’s minimal budget and appetite for regional parks capital expenditure, the trust, in 2019, resolved to plan, gain consent for, build, and gift to the region, the planned Te Muri Crossing.

In July 2021, in response to community concern that Te Muri Crossing, if built first, would generate an undesirable increase of vehicle movements on the scenic ridge road leading to it at Mahurangi West, the trust resolved to open Te Muri Crossing only as part of an end-to-end Waiwera to Mahurangi Peninsula coastal trail.

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5 Mahurangi Coastal Trail – the route planned

Although termed the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, the planned route prioritises family-friendliness and accessibility. Riskier and/or more strenuous, cliff-edge, routes are, of course, the prerogative of the informed, individual park user.

Waiwera to Wenderholm Jetty  Waiwera, not least of all because its sea-stack-island sentinel, Mahurangi, is the coastal trail’s namesake, is considered the beginning of the planned Mahurangi Coastal Trail. Waiwera is also the nearest public transit terminus, north of the populous Tāmaki Makaurau isthmus.

Waiwera River is safely crossed by a steel-safety-barrier-protected footpath on the road bridge carrying the Hibiscus Coast Highway. From that point on, walkers are in the greater Mahurangi regional park until emerging most of the way to Martins Bay, 8.4 kilometres north-northeast as the kuaka flies. Including the 350 metres from the bus stopStop 4793, Route 981 to the park boundary, the first gentle leg to Wenderholm Jetty is two kilometres, via the easier, western segment of the Perimeter Track.

Pūhoi Estuary crossing As a possibly interim expedient, rather than cross the broad Pūhoi Estuary via a footbridge, it is planned to provide a ferry service to an imminently accessible location on the northern shoreline—an about 800-metre run. There, rather than construct a jetty that would need to be as lengthy as the 70-metre Wenderholm Jetty, a 9-metre, 12-seater amphibious ferry is planned—for rationale, see footnote to this section.

Pōhutukawa Landing to Te Muri Saddle Although the destination of the great majority of Mahurangi Coastal Trail users will be Te Muri Beach, there are valid reasons for describing it in two legs. Pōhutukawa Landinginterim title only to Te Muri Saddle walking steadily takes about 15 minutes, but it should take at least 20, with breaks at closely spaced seats, to soak in the indisputably best vistas of  Wenderholm. The maximum gradient, at almost one metre in four, is considerably steeper than desirable for walking or even e-biking, hence the need for frequent license to comfortably steep in the increasingly breath-taking panorama. Once past the steepest 40 metres, the gradient is a gentle less-than-one-in-ten, but the need for places to pause comfortably are no less, given the need to gaze back at Wenderholm and the Pūhoi Estuary.

Te Muri Saddle Dramatically, at the saddle to Te Muri the panorama switches from estuarine to coastal, stretching northeast past Mahurangi Harbour’s Cudlip Point, Saddle Island – Te Haupa, Motuora and across the outer Hauraki Gulf to the great barrier island of Aotea, and nearer, the mountainous climax of the peninsula named for the spar ship Coromandel.

The saddle is also the confluence of the coastal trail planned and the national walkway—Te Araroa—addressed in the following section. Te Araroa walkers converging at that point will have been soaking of the coastal vista for the previous kilometre.

Te Muri Saddle to Te Muri Beach The gentle, ten-minute downhill walk through open pasture to the beach deserves to be savoured for the coastal vista revealed at the saddle, but few will, such is the allure of Te Muri. Seats, provided for the return walk to Te Muri Saddle, will encourage some, at least, to linger and appreciate at leisure. Use of the farm road that connects to the free draining coastal terrace could provide an all-weather interim route to the beach. Longer term, however, the all-weather surfacing of the more scenic, and gentler, route to the south is to be greatly preferred.

Te Muri Beach Its sense of splendid isolation is the reason ¾-kilometre730 metres, walked the almost straight length of its sand-long Te Muri Beach has become a religion, over the 49 years since it was acquired for the public as regional parkland. As [will be] expounded in detail in section 9 – Te Muri Regional Park, both the sense of splendid isolation and the environment of Te Muri Spit are threatened, terminally, in respect to the latter. The Mahurangi Coastal Trail, consequently, traverses less than the full length of the beach, to avoid impacting the ecologically sensitive spit end, and the exquisitely culturally sensitive urupā, within 50 terminally receding metres of it. Sea-level rise, of course, has drastically increased the vulnerability these already naturally sensitive sites.

Te Muri Beach to Te Muri Crossing Leaving the beach, the trail crosses the at a currently treeless expanse of the spit. Whether as part of the trail development of as part of retiring the current pasture in favour of restoring indigenous back-dune forest, this 150-metre section. Once across, the trail crosses the upper reach of an arm of the estuary via a low, recently constructed wooden farm bridge. After 200-metres of winding, shaded farm track, the trail crosses the 3.4-hectare historic Nokenoke Block. In common with the first part of this section, the route would greatly benefit from trees planted for shade.

Planned Te Muri Crossing As regards planning, and disregarding the existing 2.9 kilometres of formed trail or footpath south of the Mahurangi Harbour, the planned boardwalk-and-footbridge Te Muri Crossing is currently the most advanced, substantive, infrastructure, in respect to the design, impact studies, and community, stakeholder, and treaty partnership consultation. The 260-metre boardwalk and footbridge planned is a major, $1 million commitment that, as mentioned earlier, is being undertaken by the Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust as a gift to the beneficiaries of the regional parks network of Tāmaki Makaurau. A baby step, however, towards the end-to-end, 8.3-kilometre Waiwera to Mahurangi Peninsula coastal trail, might be Waiwera to Te Muri. This could be accomplished at a cost closer to $0.25 million, than the $1.25 million that opening Waiwera to Mahurangi Peninsula, end-to-end, would likely entail.

Waiwera to Te Muri The new infrastructure involved to offer an all-tide Waiwera to Te Muri trail might consist of an amphibious ferry, a small landing platform, a short distance of trail surfacing, and two stiles. Alternatively, a non-amphibious ferry and a minimal set of foreshore steps, in place of the landing platform, might better than halve the cost, however, without a significanta 70-metre long structure, unless built near or at the rivermouth jetty being constructed, it would significantly tide-limit the ferry operation, with the potential for stranding parties.

A particular value in phasing the development of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, starting with Waiwera to Te Muri, aside from it being a much more modest fundraising challenge, is that it will test demand for accessing Te Muri, other than via Mahurangi West Road and Ngārewa Drive. The ferry, particularly if it is amphibious, would be a powerful tool to deploy in demonstrating the coastal trail to those that proponents of the Mahurangi Coastal Trail hope to convince of its potential—whether folk exercised about local impacts, local business owners, council officers, local board members and councillors, funding institution executives, the mayor, mps or members of Ngāti Manuhiri. Provided that plenty of time is taken to tackle the farm road to Te Muri Saddle—the views back to Wenderholm helping hugely with this—even the staunchly sceptical would be won over, long before so much as putting a toe in the water, at Te Muri Beach.

Pūhoi Crossing concept, 2016
Best Current Thinking 2016: Before being informed that a previous utilitarian iteration had failed to find favour with decision makers, this more elegant, suitably serpentine concept was rendered and proffered. Its swing-opening section, right, is in the spirit of the steamboat-era main-highway swing bridge near Pūhoi, before a flood carried it awayThe non-opening replacement bridge sealed Pūhoi off from subsequent steamboat deliveries, except to the extant wharf constructed, downstream of the former motorway toll payment kiosk.. Although few craft venturing farther upstream than this proposed location are sufficiently lofty to require the span to be opened—kayaks make up almost 100% of the present Pūhoi River traffic—it would be monstrously disrespectful to the Pūhoi River to deny access to the likes of the scow Jane Gifford. rendering Littoralis Landscape Architecture

Pūhoi Estuary footbridge revisitation Setting aside limitations such as daylight hours of operation and extreme weather, any ferry service across the Pūhoi Estuary is likely to be soon overwhelmed by weekend and holiday demand. This, inevitably, would fuel pressure for the provision of a footbridge—an entirely uncontroversial solution in most park environments. Other options exist, of course, including a gondola lift. Options such as a gondola lift, however, would likely leave Te Muri exposed to visitor levels akin to building a carpark beside its beach.

Aside from a Pūhoi Estuary footbridge being a very significant project to plan, consent and fund, the ferry-first option would provide generous opportunity to canvas options, and to build the substantial potential-user-base desirable to demonstrate demand…

Te Muri Crossing to Sullivans Bay – Ōtarawao Provided that it followed rather than preceded a substantial means of crossing Pūhoi Estuary, the Te Muri to Ōtarawao section of trail would, potentially, and in conjunction with other equity-of-access measures, reduce private-light-vehicle traffic on Mahurangi West Road and Ngārewa Drive…

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6 Regional-park gateway to Te Araroa, the national walkway

Te Araroa walkers reconnect with the coastline at or near Wenderholm, the better part of three days and 60 kilometres after leaving it at, Pākiri. Most will have replenished provisions at Pūhoi, in all probability in anticipation of a camping more than one night at Te Muri Beach before braving the metropolis on foot. All this presumes, however, a Mahurangi Coastal Trail:

Should tides not suit, or you don’t wish to pay for kayaking from Pūhoimacron added to Wenderholm – it can be walked. When walking along sh1, please take caution as this road is very busy, and there are areas where the road shoulder is very narrow. sh1 is particularly busy during weekends (Friday–Sunday), public holidays, and from Christmas through to the end of January. There are also significant roadworks in this area, due to construction of the new motorway. We recommend kayaking as it is much safer and more enjoyable than walking these busy roads.

Nor does the hazard begin there. First, walkers must risk the kilometre from Pūhoi to the highway, parts of which have unwalkable shoulders, short sight lines, and carry often fast-moving commuter traffic. Rejecting the official recommendation to kayak, most walkers, walk. Additionally, the major part of the route, which is along the Hibiscus Coast Highway, is no safer than the soon-to-be-retired section of State Highway 1 involved. Having completed less than 17.5% of the Cape Reinga to Bluff trail, most Te Araroa walkers are husbanding their time and finances for the nearly 2500 remaining kilometres ahead. Waiting to catch the next outgoing tide, much less outlaying for kayak hire, is an option few chose.

Despite it being walked, by a few, since 2003, and being formally opened a decade ago, most Aucklanders are unfamiliar with the name Te Araroa, and much fewer have knowingly walked so much as a section of it. Plenty will have unknowingly walked urban sections, but Wenderholm – Pūhoi is the first, sublime, non-urban section, north of the metropolis. Commencing from within the greater 1000-hectare Mahurangi regional park, it would be impossible to devise a more magnificent entrée to New Zealand’s 3000-kilometre long walkliterally, in te reo Māori: araroa = walk long, for the inhabitants of New Zealand’s most populous region. After two decades of formal and informal use, end-to-end Te Araroa walkers have only recently exceeded 1200 per year. If walking Te Araroa became the rite-of-passage aspiration of all young people born in Aotearoa, as it utterly deserves to be, up to 60 000 of those walking Te Araroa of a year would be New Zealanders, and most of those Aucklanders. This is the gift that Te Muri and the greater Mahurangi regional parks can bestow the national walkway of Aotearoa.

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7 Seventeen-kilometre Wenderholm–Te Muri–Pūhoi loop trail
Te Muri Saddle looking northeast
Fifteen Minutes to Splendid Te Muri Isolation: Once ferried across Pūhoi Estuary, it is a mere 15 minutes—even with pauses to gaze back at Wenderholm—before the primary goal of most people walking the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, Te Muri, is a gentle 10-minute amble down to its sublime beach. image Mahurangi Magazine

If Te Muri linked to a cruel slog, such as that which commences Te Araroa at Pākiri, where the trail is obliged to follow a fence line up the unrelenting north face of Pākiri Hill, it would be walked—climbed, is the term used in the official trail notes—but only by a tiny percentage of the more than a quarter of a million visitors Wenderholm receives every year. From Pākiri to the Dome Valley is a demandingslippery is used four times in the official trail notes 10–12-hour tramp, with the only facilities available being two long-drop toilets, a dearth of camp sites, nor anything purchasable until the Dome café.

Wenderholm Jetty to Te Muri Beach The less-than-two-kilometre, ferry and trail Wenderholm Jetty to Te Muri Beach leg is described earlier. Assuming a moderately full tide and being among the last aboard the ferry, a person could comfortably make Te Muri Beach in half an hour.

Te Muri Beach to Te Muri Saddle Te Muri, in sublime contrast, links to Te Araroa via a walk that gently rises from the solitude of Te Muri Beach to the scenic ridge farm road. Even so, as mentioned earlier, frequent pauses to enjoy the coastal panorama are encouraged. Although the saddle is the intersection of Te Araroa and the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, few will walk either the coastal trail, the loop trail, or Te Araroa without venturing to, and at the very least pausing at, the beach.

Te Muri Saddle to Hungry Creek Road Most of the 3.5-kilometre scenic ridge road from the saddle to the summit of Hungry Creek Road is all-but level, rising and falling less than 15 metres in 500 walked. The rearward, receding coastal vistas are handsomely replaced by terrestrial panoramas—the ridgeline that carriers the scenic Mahurangi West Road to the north, and glimpses of Pūhoi Estuary to the south. The last glimpse of that estuary includes the former Schischka farmhouse and, just upstream of it, the landform suggested, in 2016, as the natural southern abutment of a sympathetically serpentine footbridge estuary crossing—complete with pivoting section,technically a swing bridge, but too readily confused with the colloquial New Zealand term for a simple pedestrian suspension bridge echoing that which once crossed the river near Pūhoi.

Hungry Creek Road to Hungry Creek After the nominally 2.2-kilometre level run—3.5 kilometres from the beach—the scenic ridge farm road meets Hungry Creek Road at the western boundary of the regional parkland. Little used, Hungry Creek Road is imminently suitable for walking, cycling and horse riding, provided that it is not promoted as private-light-vehicle access to Te Muri Regional Park. Exiting the park, the trail ultimately descends from an elevation of 115 metres to sea level, at Hungry Creek. However, the first 620 metres, after falling briefly, rises to the highest elevation of the Te Muri Beach to Pūhoi journey: 137 metres. From here the descent to sea level is abrupt. The road falls at an average gradient of 1:8, and for a 108-metre section, at 1:7—almost twice as steep as the maximum 1:12 recommended for short distances. At places the road is also traversing topography up to 33° from the vertical.

To rebuild 2.2 kilometres of Hungry Creek Road and the farm road,220 metres and an extensionsay, 200 metres to it, to access the “main [Te Muri Regional Park] arrival area” proposed in the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021—sufficient to safely allow two-way traffic that included horse floats—would involve tens of millions of dollars. The cost would be considerably greater if, additionally, provision was made to for safe pedestrian access. While the twin imperatives of climate response and equity of access would surely require it, it is instructive that Auckland Transport, when upgrading the road to Mahurangi West Regional Park in 2020, made no provision for pedestrians—this, despite Ngārewa Drive long being used by Mahurangi West and park-visitor walkers.

Up Hungry Creek Road – The hard way  Walked in the other direction, from Pūhoi to Te Muri Beach, the first 1.1-kilometre, 137-metre climb up Hungry Creek Road can fairly be described as a gut-buster. But rather than seek to engineer a 1:12 walking and cycling switchback pathway, the simple expedient of providing numerous bench-and-platform viewing points should at least be trialled. The view, although now dominated by the sweep of the Arawhiti ki Pūhoi motorway viaduct, is dramatic, and increasingly so with elevation. Designed appropriately, the bench-and-platform structure could retrospectively form part of a grade-separated pathway, should billions suddenly materialise for other-than-motorway infrastructure.

As mentioned above, a sizable section of the hill has a gradient of 1:7. Given that it is mandatory for even brief sections footpath with gradients of 1:6 to have handrails, the length of the climb—1.07 kilometres at 1:8, the handrail should probably effectively be continuous. Meanwhile, regardless of the direction by which the proposed Te Muri–Pūhoi loop trail is tackled, the frequent bench-and-platform provided primarily for the uphill slog, will be welcome enough for those nursing knees, or simply relishing an opportunity to pause for photography or refreshment. At least one toilet should be provided.

Hungry Creek and under State Highway 17 At the foot of Hungry Creek Road, two options exist for crossing what, in mid-May, will be relegated State Highway 17. By far the more elegant would follow the eastern bank of Hungry Creek by way of a paper road for 550 metres before crossing the stream at the mouth of its confluence the Pūhoi River. The cost of the 10-metre footbridge required to span Hungry Creek and the time and cost involved in consenting it possibly means that the crude alternative of walking beside State Highway 17 to the same point is adopted. This expedient would be unwise. With all the signs in the world, walkers would be tempted to cross the highway at grade, rather than simply duck under the highway bridge, safely grade-separated.

State Highway 17 to Pūhoi Once under the “old” highway bridge, and the new, lofty Arawhiti ki Pūhoi motorway viaduct, wonderfully, the trail into the heart Pūhoi Village simply follows the rural and forested true left bank of the Pūhoi River. On any given outgoing tide, in half-reasonable weather, walkers will pass a stream of kayaks. Charmingly, the final 300 metres of this 1.5-kilometre section runs through the Pūhoi Domain.

Pūhoi Village Traditionally, the settlers of Pūhoi frequented Te Muri Beach via Hungry Creek Road, on foot or on horseback. Until the 1930s, via Hungry Creek Road was also a traditional route between the Pūhoi and Mahurangi West communities. While the 1200 per year Te Araroa through-walkers must represent a tiny fraction of the visitors the legendary town receives annually, kayakers to and from Wenderholm, in contrast, make up an appreciable proportion.

Pūhoi to Wenderholm The two-hour kayak cruise from Pūhoi to Wenderholm, on a recently turned out-going tide, is about the most wonderful, individual way to complete the 17-kilometre Wenderholm–Te Muri–Pūhoi loop trail. Aside from longer canoes—waka would seem perfectly apposite—there is potential for more equitable means of undertaking this leg. A ferry, because it would need to be low-wake at the 5-knot maximum speed permitted, would also likely be canoe-bodied. The 50-minute journey, powered by battery, would be an entirely well-earned reward for the 9-kilometre walk that preceded it.

Wenderholm–Te Muri–Pūhoi loop trail – Conclusion Whether walked west to east as a Te Araroa through-walker, east to west as a Te Araroa first-timer, or purely for its standout standalone attractions, the proposed 17-kilometre Wenderholm–Te Muri–Pūhoi loop trail would be the diamond necklace to the jewel-in-the-regional-parks-crown that is Te Muri.

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should include policy to investigate the potential of the 17-kilometre Wenderholm–Te Muri–Pūhoi loop trail proposed, to showcase zero-carbon regional-park equity of access.

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8 Wenderholm Regional Park

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should include policy to investigate…

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9 Te Muri Regional Park

Titled “the main [Te Muri Regional Park] arrival area” proposed in the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should include policy to investigate…

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10 Mahurangi West Regional Park

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should include policy to investigate…

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11 Mahurangi East Regional Park – Mahurangi Peninsula

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should include policy to investigate how the Mahurangi Peninsula regional parkland might be developed, long term, so as to maximise equity of access.

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12 Mahurangi East Regional Park – Scotts Landing

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should include policy to investigate how the Scotts Landing regional parkland might be developed, long term, so as to mitigate the private-light-vehicle congestion that currently defines the locality.

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13 Mahurangi Regatta test of regional-park equity of access

If Auckland Anniversary weekend is not the highest visitor three-day period for the Tāmaki Makaurau regional parks network, it certainly is for the greater Mahurangi regional park…

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should cite the Mahurangi Regatta…

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14 Four’s three too many – One great Mahurangi regional park

While it might not be the most important consideration, treating the contiguousconsidering intervening rivers, streams, and the Mahurangi Harbour to be connecting rather than dividing 1000-hectare, 25-kilometre regional parkland coastline as four separate parks makes for an extremely unwieldy policy-making process when it comes to the planned Mahurangi Coastal Trail. The far more fundamental concern is that the societal and ecological wealth of a 1000-hectare regional park is not readily communicated to park users. Visitors who enter the greater Mahurangi regional park at the Waiwera River deserve to know, immediately, that they are stepping into a park that extends 1000 hectares and 8.4 kilometres north-northeast.

Mahurangi Action, in its Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust-endorsed submission on the draft management plan variation in respect to Te Muri, included an 800-word section imploring:

…the rigorous consideration of the implications of rationalising Mahurangi, Te Muri and Wenderholm regional parkland as one, Mahurangi Regional Park.

In response, the commissioners said they agreed with the Auckland Council officer-note:

The question of the recognition of agglomerations of regional parks is better addressed in the context of the pending review of the rpmp 2010Auckland Council’s 2010 Regional Parks Management Plan as a whole.

Notwithstanding that note, there is no mention in the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 of the Mahurangi, Te Muri, and Wenderholm regional parkland amalgamation advocated. Otherwise, whether the unification of a landscape as visually and ecologically contiguous as the Mahurangi coastline can legitimately be characterised as an agglomeration is moot—arguably best commented on by coastal landscape architects, coastal ecologists, coastal geomorphologists, and even coastal engineers.

Mahurangi Magazine submits that the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 should include policy to investigate the amalgamation of Mahurangi East, Mahurangi West, Te Muri, and Wenderholm regional parks.

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15 Responding to climate change – the “beyond-urgent” imperative

As required by both the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 and Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri – Auckland’s Climate Plan, the draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 does respond to the climate emergency, but not convincingly nor consistently, nor is the climate response policy consistent with other of the plan’s responsibilities, such as equitable access. The prime example concerning this submission is the proposal to upgrade Hungry Creek Road access to Te Muri Regional Park for private-light-vehicle access. This perverse proposed policy is addressed in detail in the previous sections pertaining to Te Muri Regional Park and to the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, to address the draft plan’sAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 statement:

Broadening travel alternatives will also help improve equity of access and help relieve parking congestion at popular parks.

The summary of feedback received in the first phase of consultation reported that the five issues the largest numbers of submitters felt strongly about included:

responding to climate change – the “beyond-urgent” problem

The beyond-urgent compound adjective is from Mahurangi Action’s feedback, quoted in section 2.3 of the summary – Diversify Access to Reduce Visitor Vehicle Emissions:

The direction of park development needs to be in support of the beyond-urgent climate crisis. There is now a clear need for visitors to be able to travel light (without their cars) and to purchase refreshments and accommodation within the parks.

The quoted passage is an amalgam summarising a paragraph of Mahurangi Action’s feedback text. The feedback, with a glaring lacuna compassionately addressed, read:

Regarding the discussion-paper questions as to whether new directions should be developed for the regional parks and more offered, from leisure to accommodation. Again, the imperative to do this is the beyond-urgent need for climate-action mobilisation. When the Tāmaki Makaurauomitted in feedback submitted by Mahurangi Action regional parksomitted in feedback submitted by Mahurangi Action network was conceived,omitted in feedback submitted by Mahurangi Action the unquestioned model was car-owning families visiting the parks complete with considerable picnic, or indeed camping, paraphernalia. Now,new sentence begun, reversing the “, there is now…”, as “. Now, there is…” there is a clear need for visitors to be able to travel light, and purchase refreshments and accommodation within the regional parks.

In all probability, this proposed policy shift will be abhorrent to the majority of longtime regional park visitors. However, the climate emergency demands that, in the familiar balance between democratic leadership and the unearned political rewards of pandering to the status quo, climate action, increasingly, must be favoured. With access to Te Muri Beach the reward for a 25-minute, highly scenic walk, build it and regional park visitors will vote emphatically with their feet. Provided that the services needed by visitors arriving other-than by private light vehicle are stringently unobtrusive, those sensitive to changes from the original car-centric ethos should soon acclimatise and learn to love regional parkland not visually impacted by vistas of massed parked vehicles…

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16 Sea-level rise and farewell to regional-park spit beaches

The last time that global temperatures were…

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17 Equity of zero-carbon regional-park access – The Gluckman gauntlet
Distinguished Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Tu Ngutu Villa, 30 May, 2021
Gluckman’s Gauntlet: At his second successive appearance as Mahurangi Coastal Trail-fundraiser guest of honour, Distinguished Professor Sir Peter Gluckman deftly worked his talk outlining the magnitude of the epidemiological, public health, educational, and economic long-term impacts of covid-19, back to equity of access, challenge to the trail trust to ensure that young people used the coastal trail. photographer Maree Owston-Doyle

To deliver on the twin imperatives of equity of access and zero-carbon access, the regional parks management plan must communicate to Auckland Transport the specifics of what it expects from that council-controlled organisation. Having said that, it must be acknowledged that the private-light-vehicle-accessed-model on which the regional parks network of Tāmaki Makaurau is based—in response to the climate emergency and the social equity crisis—is required to be rigorously interrogated. Only by committing to render regional parks more accommodating of visitors travelling light, can Auckland Transport be asked to respond commensurately.

Fourth-tier targeted services Regardless of what accommodation is made by Auckland Transport, for example the much-needed inclusion of Pūhoi in the 995 Hibiscus Coast Station – Warkworth express route, fourth-tier targeted services are an entirely indispensable component…

The Gluckman gauntlet Shamelessly exploiting a local connection—his mentor Professor Sir Graham Liggins’, to Ōpahi Bay—the Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust asked Distinguished Professor Sir Peter Gluckman to be its speaker at a charity fundraiser, which he readily agreed to, twice. At the second event, at the conclusion of his hard-hitting address, and amply aware of the trust’s commitment to zero-carbon regional-park access, Sir Peter issued a blunt challenge:

Ensure that young people use the Mahurangi Coastal Trail.

While proponents of the planned Mahurangi Coastal Trail could take the position that, because equity of access to the regional parks network of Tāmaki Makaurau is a systemic obligation and responsibility, they—the coastal-trail builders—can remain essentially agnostic as to the age-groups of coastal-trail users. On the contrary, it is the mutual responsibility of the coastal-trail stakeholders, and to the mutual long term benefit of the coastal-trail stakeholders, to address equity of access strategically, and in concert.

While the Mahurangi Coastal Trail cannot be expected to shoulder the burden of addressing half a century inequitable regional-park access singlehandedly, it can, by ensuring that coastal-trail users, arriving by other-than private light vehicle, feel they are respected and advantaged visitors. Picture the scenario where a group of young people none of which is old enough to hold a full driver licence, arrives at Stop 4793, Waiwera. The boisterous consensus is that, rather use the regional-park shuttle, the group will “race the 2 k ” to the ferry. One of a pair seated together to that point suggests, to a pair who appear to be less aware of the logistics of public transport:

Go on you two, but give us that mountain of gear you’re carrying—we want to talk anyway.

In this scenario, one the pair riding in style to Wenderholm Jetty had earlier confided his reason for, uncharacteristically, not being the first to want to run, that day.

The logic of the 39-year-old Mahurangi Coastal Trail concept has always been how magically close Waiwera is to the Mahurangi Harbour, via the coastline, in blissful contrast to the 17-kilometre journey by road, punctuated by its typically dusty and deeply pot holed culmination. Waiwera has had a long proud history of public transport, both by steamboat and coach trail. Until the advent of regionally planned public transport, in the late-20th century, bus services to the town were minimal. Since that time, the compelling logic of the planned Mahurangi Coastal Trail has been equity of access and, increasingly, equity of zero-carbon access, via an hourly service to the metropolitan gateway—Waiwera—of 1000 hectares of regional parkland. This, indubitably, is the epitome of low-carbon, equitably accessible low-hanging fruit—juiciest to boot…

Mahurangi Magazine submits that policy should be further developed to specifically provide for the planned Mahurangi Coastal Trail, with its robust, established stakeholder and treaty partnership support, to showcase a step change in low-carbon regional-park equity of access…

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18 Regional-park response to population growth

Anthropogenic global warming is described as a wicked problem for profoundly sound reasons…

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19 Conclusion – Much in draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 to approve and much to improve upon
Knowas written by Arthur Rex Dugard ‘Rex’ ‘ARD’ Fairburn: I know… However, post the popularisation of the folk song that shares an identical line, as the opening line of its chorus, which disasterously messes with the meter of Fairburn’s Walking On My Feet. where I’m going
Where I’ll lie down
Nice quiet place
Long way from town…

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20 Summary of draft planAuckland Council’s draft Regional Parks Management Plan, issued for public consultation 10 December 2021 submission specifics

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21 Mahurangi Coastal Trail milestones
1965 Wenderholm Regional Park acquired – first acquired by then-new regional councilfrom 1963 to 1989 named Auckland Regional Authority, thereafter Auckland Regional Council. Subsumed by Auckland Council 2010
1973 coastal margin of Te Muri acquired under Public Works Act
1974 Mahurangi Action established, as Friends of the Mahurangi Incorporated
1983 Geotechnical investigation for planned road bridge across Te Muri Estuary
1987 Suggestions for the Mahurangi West Regional Reserve to citizens advisory group – by Mahurangi West and Pukapuka Residents and Ratepayers Association
1987 Submission on draft park management plan, including walking access, as opposed to the proposed road from Mahurangi West.
1989 Auckland Regional Authority becomes Auckland Regional Council
2010 383-hectare Te Muri hinterland acquired—road access to beach announced
2010 Auckland Regional Council subsumed by new, regional Auckland Council
2014 Mahurangi Coastal Trail Technical Document for Discussion – Mahurangi Action
2015 Phase-1 of Te Muri variation to regional parks management plan – 140 submitters
2015 Mahurangi Action and Friends of Regional Parks establish Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust
2016 Phase-1 of Te Muri variation – further 383 submissions. All but a handful of the 523 oppose private-light-vehicle access to Te Muri Beach
2016 Auckland Council resolves to not allow private-light-vehicle access to Te Muri Beach
2019 Auckland Council – Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust memorandum of understanding to develop Mahurangi Coastal Trail, commencing with Te Muri Crossing
2020 Davis Coastal Consultants retained by Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust to design and seek resource consent for Te Muri Crossing
2020 Phase-1 Regional Parks Management Plan Review submissions
2020 With Ngāti Manuhiri, identified preferred route for Te Muri Crossing
2021 30 May First public presentation of Te Muri Crossing design, tickets $80
2021 3 July Te Muri Crossing coffee-and-croissants drop-in day at Mahurangi West Hall. Consensus expressed for undesirability of opening the Mahurangi Coastal Trail, only accessible by vehicle via the Mahurangi West scenic ridge roads.
2021 9 July Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust resolves to develop a plan for an end-to-end coastal trail, predicated on an amphibious Pūhoi River crossing, pending the possible replacement with a footbridge, should patronage demand, stakeholder support materialise.
2021 Draft Regional Parks Management Plan released 10 December, with call for submissions until midnight, Friday 4 March 2022.
2021 Christmas Day – Mahurangi Magazine’s work-in-progress submission on the draft regional parks plan notified.

 

This submission is a 12-week work in progress, last updated on 22 January, when 41 days and counting down to the midnight Friday 4 March 2022 deadline.

Disclosure The author of this submission is the secretary of both Mahurangi Action Incorporated and the Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust. This incrementally published submission, however, is that of the editorially independent, independently funded Mahurangi Magazine.

Dedicated to the democratic mobilisation of meaningful Mahurangi climate action.
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