Tag Archives: takapuna

A reminisce of Auckland

During the year (late 2011-late 2012) I spent in Auckland after moving up there to be with Lisa, I collected a number of good memories and pictures from the region that I want to share to showcase what I consider to be the best bits of Auckland in my personal experience.

Waiting at the Devonport ferry crossing

Waiting at the Devonport ferry crossing

Auckland and I certainly have a love-hate relationship, it’s easy to be negative about Auckland with it’s transportation chaos, massive sprawling size and huge (by NZ standards) population, but at the same time it faces challenges that no other NZ city faces and serves up it’s own slice of awesomeness in the face of these issues.

If you can survive the sprawling road network and the urge to murder all other drivers, Auckland isn't actually all that bad. :-)

If you can survive the sprawling road network and the urge to murder all other drivers, Auckland isn’t actually all that bad. :-)

An example of Auckland transport policy.

An example of Auckland’s transport policy.

I personally loved the Auckland region from an explorer point of view – being in a new city, especially one with lots of island and other areas I’ve never been to before was a really exciting change. Wellington has it’s collection of interesting places of course, but you always know your home city too well for it to be surprising and new after a while.

My personal highlights of my adventures in Auckland would have to be my visit to Rangitoto Island, regular Takapuna to Devonport walks and my wanders along Takapuna Beach.

At times the warmer climate of Auckland, whilst a constant source of annoyance and suffering when working from home, also served up some beautiful swimming weather during summer in which I was able to visit the beach and swim in the sea just enjoying life.

Auckland does a remarkable job of being both ugly and beautiful at the same time – sometimes you’re stuck in a bland generic corporate business park, yet an hour later you can be on the harbour bridge looking over the city whilst a ship cruises under you, up in the Sky Tower cabling servers or getting up early and exploring the near empty city as the sun rises.

Viewing Auckland CBD from up on Mt Eden.

Viewing Auckland CBD from up on Mt Eden.

Takapuna beach, a summer gem. Plus there's amazing gelato right on the beach.

Takapuna beach, a summer gem. Plus there’s amazing gelato right on the beach.

One night in Mirangi Bay

One night in Mirangi Bay

My time in Auckland was particularly people orientated. I had moved up to Auckland to be with Lisa, but at the same time I missed my Wellington friends and family terribly leading to a really weird contrast where I was happy to be with her, but sad to be away from those who have played such a big part in my life.

On the plus side, my time in Auckland strengthened some existing friendships and created some new ones, which I’m very thankful to have. I have many great memories of good times spent over bottles of wine or delicious gin, going for a swim in the beach or flooding apartments during my time there. :-)

Lisa and I outside our apartment building.

Lisa and I outside our apartment building.

My dear friend @pikelet!

Partners in crime with @pikelet

In beer we trust.

Over beer we plot how to unleash our awesomeness on the world.

I was also fortunate enough to take part in Auckland’s Thursday Night Curry (TNC), a collection of great geeks meeting at a different curry venue somewhere in Auckland city or suburbs every fortnight. TNC features a range of very smart and very awesome people and is something I really miss having left Auckland. Plus the curry was excellent. ;-)

Delicious, delicious curry!

Delicious, delicious curry!

The TNC crowd and my other friends helped me seek out some of the good food locations in Auckland – Pikelet even managed to introduce me to some decent coffee in Auckland’s CBD a task I feared impossible after Wellington’s high standard in caffeinated deliciousness.

Delicious delicious coffee with chocolatey addition.

Delicious delicious coffee with chocolatey addition.

I even discovered some great food places such as Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant, as well as some amazing local breweries and pubs including Britomart Brewery, Galbraith’s and Brew on Quay.

Hidden vegetarian gem - Sunflower vegetarian resturant.

Hidden vegetarian gem – Sunflower vegetarian restaurant.

Whilst living in Auckland, I was also able to get out and around the city and experience different parts of it, both whilst working but also whilst exploring on a personal level.

Auckland is New Zealand’s economic power house and most large companies base their head offices here, the unfortunate side effect has been that the city keeps growing and growing as more people base themselves there for work opportunities and there’s easily a risk of the city becoming a very corporate and developing an all-business, no-play feel.

Whilst some will argue that Auckland is already a soulless corporate city, I argue that whilst it does have it’s downsides, it has more than enough great features to make up for them.

Whilst a city like Wellington is generally great all round, Auckland has a contrasting mix of horrible problems yet amazing areas to visit and great places to go.

I even found greenery inside Auckland's CBD!

I even found greenery inside Auckland’s CBD!

Marshlands around Auckland

Marshlands around Auckland

Touches of old and new throughout Auckland

Generally speaking, Auckland is a young city, but there’s still a lot of older buildings amongst the glass and steel towers.

Suburban Auckland

Suburban Auckland (view from Takapuna down Fred Thomas drive).

The waterfront has to be one of Auckland's more redeeming features.

The waterfront has to be one of Auckland’s more redeeming features.

Whilst I don’t regret leaving Auckland to spend time over in AU, and as a devout Wellingtonian, I must admit that I do have a special place for the city and I’d happily live in it again if it wasn’t for the strong pull of dear friends and family in Wellington.

I suspect Auckland is somewhere I will consider visiting semi-frequently, even if it’s just for the beach visits and warm weather during summer, the region with it’s harbour and islands is one of the best feature and a strong pull for an excuse to visit the city.

Bit Flipping Cycle Lanes

On my recent walk to Devonport I was amazed at the design of the cycle lanes made by the North Shore City Council (now part of the amalgamated Auckland City Council).

Aside from the initial amazement that such a car-focused city knew what cycle lanes where, I was also extremely amused to see how exactly they chose to implement them….


Exhibit A: The flipped cycleway.

Having a standard such as “people to the left, bikes to the right” clearly wasn’t exciting enough, so let’s have bike and pedestrian lanes randomly swapping sides at each junction.

Quick everyone, change places!


Exhibit B: Multipathing!

Having just one bike lane isn’t enough, let’s add a second bike lane – one on the footpath and one on the road. And whilst we’re at it, let’s make it so it goes bike, pedestrian and then bike again. :-/

Pedestrians: Cyclist sandwich filling.

Not pictured are the other great cycle designs I came across on my wander including:

  • The suddenly ending and then re-starting bike lane.
  • The going-on-and-off-the-footpath bike lane
  • The bizarre invisible bike lane – I found it in one suburb, where a single bike symbol was painted on the side of the road in a side street, with no other markings around, not evenĀ  a cycle lane line marking.

Whilst it’s great to see a council working to lay some cycle lanes, the lack of thought around planning and standardization of the lanes is a source of great amusement, but also a potential risk to both cyclists and pedestrians if these lanes start getting used more heavily.

Takapuna to Devonport

Working from home for the past 7+ months has left me with strong urges to get out and about on the weekends, least I go crazy from being coped up inside – whilst my inner geek urges to sit infront of my laptop and code are strong, getting outside for a walk, seeing new places and new people always puts me in a better mind set for when I get home to do a large coding session in the evening afterwards. ;-)

The last two weekends I’ve done the Takapuna to Devonport (Green Route) walk, a pathway I discovered purely by chance whilst walking to Devonport along the main road route due to an entrance onto a park just at the start of the memorial WW2 tree-lined road half-way in my journey.

It takes you through a number of parks that I didn’t even know existed, over the marsh lands and through some of the older streets towards Devonport with characteristic turn of the century houses (Devonport being established as a suburb around 1840 and one of Auckland’s older suburbs).

There’s a handy map you can download from the council here and the whole route is walk & cycle safe. It’s certainly the better route to take, the road route between Takapuna and Devonport should be avoided at all costs, considering it’s always congested and overloaded with traffic, as there is only one road route from Devonport all the way up to Takapuna in order to get onto the motorway.

Having made the mistake of trying to drive to Devonport once before, I’d avoid it at all costs, you’d get from Devonport to Takapuna faster by taking the ferry to Britomart and bus from there IMHO, nose-to-tail traffic the whole way on a Sunday evening isn’t that fun, not to mention a nightmare finding car parking in Devonport itself.

Traffic backed up from the Esmond Rd - Lake Rd junction. It's like this for a good suburb or two, even on weekends. :-/

The sane way for non-car loving Aucklanders to get around.

The route signage is pretty good, although I found that whilst Devonport-to-Takapuna was almost perfect in directional signage, the Takapuna-to-Devonport approach has a few bits that are a little confusing if you hadn’t done it the other way first.

There’s also a complete nightmare in terms of cycle vs pedestrian marking, something that the North Shore City Council loves doing, such as alternating conventions of left vs right side for cyclists – something I’ll cover in a future post. :-/

The route doesn’t seem particularly busy, most of the activity I saw was with people in the various parks the route crosses through, rather than others completing the same route as me – I expect the length detours them a bit (took me around 1.5hrs).

Starting from Takapuna/Esmond road, the route is firstly though the newer suburbs of Takapuna, with a weird suburban/industrial mix of some lovely power pylons running along the street.

Ah, the serenity! :-D

TBH, Takapuna suburbs bore me senseless, they’re a giant collection of 1970s-2012 housing projects, very American-dream type feel at times. Thankfully one soon escapes to the parks and walkways along the marshy coast.

Marshy land, Auckland Harbour bridge in the distance.

One of several boardwalks so you won't get your feet/wheels muddy - unless you want to. :-)

Long bridge is long! (kind of reminds me of Crash Bandicot's Road to Nowhere). If the ground is dry, you could brave cycling alongside it through the marsh, few tracks suggesting this is somewhat popular.

The route slowly starts getting more parks and greenery, with small intermissions of going back along suburb streets, before rejoining more natural routes.

Got a skateboard? And a hoodie? This is the place for you to hang in this otherwise quite empty grassy field called a park.

/home/devonport_residents/.Trash/ (that's a recycling bin joke for you windows users!)

Once you come out of the park, you end up walking through a few blocks of Devonport’s residential area, before coming out onto the main street and along to the shopping and cafe area.

An old church, where Aucklanders worship their god "Automobile".

I quite like Devonport, it has a good number of cafes, bars, the waterfront, classic architecture (not bland corporate crap like Takapuna) and generally has charm.

If I was going to live in Auckland long term, I’d seriously consider Devonport as a good place to have house, I’d even consider not bothering with a car, depending on the availability of a good close supermarket.

Of course this assumes working in the CBD or from home, so you can just take the ferry into the CBD, rather than needing to mess around with commuting up to the motorway and into the city everyday. If a car-based commute is vital, you might want to do Devonport a favor and go live in a less classy suburb with closer motorway access.

Knitted handrails! This place has style!

Vertical water accelerator.

I stopped for a coffee at one of the several cafes around the main street with an outside area and was pleasantly surprised for a change – I didn’t even see a Starbucks there!

The local residential population appears to have a lot of members of the baby boomer generation and either residential or visiting families attracted to the parks and waterfront.

As I was there, I decided to make the short climb up Mt Victoria (*curses settlers who named about 50 million places in NZ Mt Victoria*) and get a good look out over the area. In typical Auckland fashion, it is entirely possible to drive right up to the top, or take a segway tour, but despite the name it’s really just a medium sized hill, nothing compared to Wellington stuff.

Looking out towards Okahu & Mission Bay. Start to get an idea why Auckland is the "City of Sails".

Our old friend Rangitoto island again. Incidentally, Mt Victoria itself is also a volcano, just not anywhere nearly as large.

Looking out over houses towards North Head,

Auckland CBD

Panorama out towards Rangitoto

Panorama showing Auckland CBD on left, Devonport centre and Takapuna in the horizon on the right.

I didn’t know anything about it other than it was a big hill, so damn I was going to climb and conquer that, but it turns out it was part of Auckland’s early military history with a large disappearing gun (BL 8 inch Mk VII naval gun) which was installed in 1899, well before WW2 – seems NZ has a number of good examples of these interesting pre-WW1 weapons.

The magical disappearing cannon!

Fuck being the poor suckers who had to lug this all the way up the hill. :-/

Mushroom vents hint to a large underground complex - sadly closed to the public.

One thing I missed is the other large hill in the area – North Head – which offers a much larger selection of 1800’s – WW2 relics including tunnels and additional guns which are open to the public.

Devonport has had a long military history and is where the main naval base of New Zealand, dating back to 1841, usually has a couple ships berthed to look at – or sometimes coming/going offering some neat photo opportunities.

I tend to find that Auckland really hides it’s interesting stuff, I lived in Takapuna for months before I discovered the existence of many of these interesting walkways and sights, in many cases they just aren’t advertised and from a distance, you don’t get an idea of how interesting some of these places can be. (Mt Victoria and North Head look just like plain hills with some sheds on them from sea level).

That’s why I love exploring on foot, find so many gems, look them up online, find another 5 related ones to go and check out. :-) And don’t be afraid to take random interesting looking paths to see where they lead, it’s how I find many places – including many of Wellington’s paths and walkways.


After the trip up Mt Victoria, I wandered back down and along the waterfront – turns out it’s a fantastic place to get close up shots of any large ships passing by.

Rena-sized cargo ship, gives an idea how massively large these things are when seeing up close. See the little speedboat to the right for an idea of the size difference. :-D

I ended up heading to the ferry terminal to get the ferry over to Britomart to catch up with friends, only took less than 15mins to board and cross over the harbor for $6. (frequent traveler discounts available).

This is Fuller Ferry, requesting Devenport wharf command center to lower defence grid for safe docking.

Cruising in to the Britomart ferry terminal, past the Rugby Word Cup "Cloud" event center.

Finally wrapped up the day with a delicious coffee and snack at my much loved Shakey Isles before they closed (closing time is 17:00 on weekends FYI).

Om nom nom (totally not addicted to chocolate)

If you don’t live in Takapuna and want to reproduce this walk, I’d recommend taking the Northern Express (NEX) bus to Akoranga Station, or the normal Takapuna buses to the shopping center, doing the walk to Devonport and then ferry back into Britomart.

It’s an easy day trip and could be as short as 3-4 hrs or as long as an entire day depending what sights and coffee you decide to partake in whilst at Devonport.

The other approach is to do Takapuna – Devonport & return, something that might appeal particularly if wanting to do it by bike rather than foot, there’s a bit more parking around Takapuna, particular Fred Thomas drive area near Akaranga Station to drive to with your bikes.

Grand Theft Auto

Had a wonderful wake up this morning with a call from my property manager, advising that thieves had attempted to steal my car.

Apparently a tenant called in 111 around 7am in the morning, finding my car with the lights on, engine running and door open.

Once the property manager figured out that it was my car, they called me, but after a 4am coding session, I didn’t end up waking up until around 10am.

After running down and checking it out, I made the decision to try and shutdown the car, considering that the police weren’t appearing any time soon and I didn’t want it to a) burn all my fuel and b) risk the engine overheating.

Unfortunately my car knowledge is about as good as most people’s computer knowledge – I get in, turn it on and drive, which meant I wasn’t totally sure on the correct step – I figured that removing that battery would do the trick, but wasn’t totally sure if that was the right move.

Ended up calling AA, who were pretty pathetic and told me that I can’t get any callout as “it’s a vandalism problem”, making me wonder why I even pay for them at all and offering no other assistance.

My insurance company AMI wasn’t too useful at first, saying if I needed help, they’d send a first-responder service out and charge me. A subsequent call had one of their staff confirming that disconnecting the battery would be the correct step to take.

Once disconnected, the car then stalled and thankfully stopped, although I made sure to drop it into neutral before turning off the engine (automatic).

Left running at the complex entrance, fortunately other cars could just get around it.

Ripped up dash :'(

Bye bye beautiful :-(

The weird thing about the theft, is that after going to the effort to start my car, they then stole nothing but some change and my laptop car charger, ignoring my decent car stereo and of course, the car itself.

After reviewing the camera footage, it turns out that they stole my car simply to have something to open the security gate with, whilst they drove out with a specific car that they were targetting.

I guess they really did decide my Starlet was too uncool to steal… sadly they didn’t think it was uncool enough to leave alone entirely, probably due to it’s simplicity and no alarm making it easy to steal.

Pretty rough job (but not uncommon apparently) as they butchered the drivers lock and then tore apart the dash and ripped off the light control column, leaving it in a right mess.

Took about 7 hours for police to come out, not really my greatest first impression with police involvement, but the officer & forensics person were both friendly and easy to deal with and I now have a case number with them and a case number with my insurance company to have to chase up with them on Monday.

Not sure at this stage whether it’s going to be a repair or a write off – the rest of the car is in excellent condition and it’s a great unit, but it’s only valued at $4k.

Thankfully I do have insurance… although I’m sure AMI don’t love me, seeing as I just moved my car to them only two days ago, and it’s really going to fuck my no claims bonus. :-(

Takapuna Beach Low Tide

As part of my regular exercise routine, I wander along Takapuna beach – the size of the beach will vary a lot depending on whether the tide is in or out, but the amount it varies is quite dramatic.

This is the first time that I’ve lived right next to a beach and it makes you realize how it’s possible for people to get into trouble with walking along beaches and getting trapped when the tide rises.

Low tide showing off the gradual slope of the entire beach

Normally the waves are lapping up against the rocks by the cliff. Will have to time a trip to walk down past the rocks and onto the other beach one day.

Quite weird to be walking along areas that at times I’ve been swimming in… From what I can tell, the beach continues on a long way at this decline, there were a few swimmers out even further during low tide, so it certainly continues on like that for some way.

Takapuna Beach Wanders

Because I’m getting nowhere near as much exercise as I previously did in Wellington, I’m trying to get out and do regular walks in Auckland.

My currently frequent circuit is around Takapuna and along the beach which is always enjoyable and certainly very popular with other walkers, joggers, swimmers and other water sports.

Very tempted to go for a swim in the beach in the near future when there’s a nice hot weekend day, it’s certainly popular for that and with the very gradual beach it looks like it’s quite shallow for some way.

Takapuna beach in the evening. I do love coming down here late at night when the beach is almost pitch black and wandering along the beach with only a few other weirdo night owls walking dogs as company.

At the boat ramp end of the beach there is the Takapuna Beach Cafe which offers brunch options including a number of vegetarian options and seems quite popular with the locals, being packed whenever I go there.

I personally don’t rate their food that highly, I think it’s somewhat average and should be better for the premium they charge, although I can’t fault the location and views from there.

Vege brunch at Takapuna Beach Cafe. Looks promising, but didn't really do anything for me, not a huge tomato fan, the hash cake thing was a bit bland and the toast just a bit plain.

View out over Takapuna Beach. Although TBH I prefer the view of all the fine ladies when walking along the beach. ;-)

On the plus side, the beach cafe *does* offer some excellent gelato and the gelato takeaway portion of the cafe is open till late in the evenings even on weekends. It’s better priced and better tasting than the Movenpick along Hurstmare Rd as well.

Always nice stopping for a gelato on the walk, although that’s probably not helping with the whole getting less fat plan. ;-)

I’ve got a pretty good loop circuit from our apartment block, down the highway to Hauraki, along the full length of Takapuna Beach and then back through Takapuna’s shopping district.

The area near Esmonde Rd has a marshy swamp area that’s always interesting, with a seemingly large population of Pukekos living there and wandering out onto the pedestrian area and sometimes even Akaranga bus terminal to say hello.

Pukekos are lurking....

All up it’s a 5.89km walk that takes about an hour (average walking speed of 6.74 km/h) and is reasonably varied, although lacking of any hills. :-(

You can view this map in full size on Google Maps.