Coast to Coast Walkway: Auckland, New Zealand
If you haven’t heard of the Coast to Coast Walkway, you’re not alone. We hadn’t either! It is the name for the 16 km (9.9 miles) urban section of the Te Araroa through Auckland. (The Te Araroa is a long distance hiking trail in New Zealand, traversing 1,800 miles from North to South.) Coast to Coast Walkway starts at the New Zealand Maritime Museum on Princes Wharf (on Waitameta Harbor in the Pacific Ocean) and winds through major parks and city areas to the other side of the isthmus at Manukau harbor on the Tasman Sea. The trail is marked with yellow arrows for southbound hikers and blue arrows for northbound hikers. They are infrequent given the number of intersections, making the hike into a fun scavenger hunt.
Find a map of the route here.
We crossing the equator and the international date line on our way to New Zealand, and we arrived 2 days after leaving home. It is such a haul to get here that we’ll be extra careful to make use of every minute. From the Auckland airport (AKL) we took the orange bus to the Papatoetoe stop. From there, we caught a train to Britomart, a few blocks from the Coast to Coast Walkway.
The New Zealand Maritime Museum at Princes Wharf marks the beginning of the trail. Admission is $20 but you can see a sailboat from the America’s Cup Race outside for free! There are a lot of nice places to eat there too. A quick walk to the Ferry Building and Queens Wharf offers less expensive options. We opted for a daily sushi special. Queens Wharf offered great views of Waitemta Harbour. We headed towards Customs Street East and then wound South, away from the water.
Our next big thrill was seeing Emily Place Reserve. This small park is chocked full of Live Oaks. The enormous limbs are propped up every which way. They are not off limits and many people were resting in their branches.
Next, we headed towards Auckland University. There was a unique clock tower on the left and Albert Park on the right. We took a moment to explore and enjoyed the landscaping. From the fountain we had a clear view of the Sky Tower. I enjoyed playing around in a magnificent Magnolia tree.
We took Alfred Street to Grafton Road and headed into Pukekawa Auckland Domain. After a few minutes of walking, we arrived at the Domain Wintergardens. It is a historic site from the early 1900s and houses an impressive variety of flowering plants. The floral scent was overwhelming. Once back in the park, the trail disappears and we wandered through a large grassy field, past the Auckland Museum, and towards the Grandstand Entrance. While writing this, I googled Auckland Domain and was surprised to learn that the large grassy field was in fact a volcanic crater! Park Road turns into Mountain Road and we crossed under the Southern Motorway 1.
Our AirBnB happened to be on the Coast to Coast Walkway- couldn’t have planned that better!
In the morning, we began again. We were up a little early but overall the jet lag wasn’t too bad. Amongst the early morning runners and joggers, we made our way up to Eden Park. A huge crater on top was an immediate indication that this park was once an active volcano!
The next major attraction was Cornwall Park. We had heard about this place before leaving home, so we knew it must be great. It was incredible! The entrance was lined with enormous old growth trees with a cow pasture on the other side and a view up to One Tree Hill. A beautiful partridge was browsing in the grass. Going from freezing winter nights (in the US) to summer temps, seeing tropical birds and trees in full foliage, and experiencing the direct sunlight of summer made for a very surreal afternoon. The Cornwall Bistro & Cafe presented a tempting array of pastries and hot drinks. To extend our time in the park, we ordered a “coffee for 2” and a cheese scone to share (ended up being more like 4-5 cups of coffee!). Our waitress welcomed conversation and provided us with several suggestions of places to go. She spent 3 months in the US last year.
The trail winds through Cornwall Park, which feels more like an arboretum. We were in awe of the variety and size of the trees. Some were familiar like the oaks, magnolia, and olive trees. Others were more exotic like the pohutukawa and kauri trees. The trail enters a cow pasture and heads up One Tree Hill. From the top, visitors get a 360 degree view of the city and surrounding waters.
From One Tree Hill, the trail goes down Manukau Road, Symonds Street, and Trafalger St to a small city park called Jellicoe. Lastly, the trail heads downhill through a residential neighborhood to Onehunga Bay Reserve. We crossed a pedestrian bridge and felt the waters of the Tasman Sea in Manukau Harbour.
All in all, this walk was a worthwhile way to see the city of Auckland. If you have a day or two, this urban hike will take you to places worth seeing. We met friendly Kiwis everywhere we went so don’t hestitate to stop and ask for directions. Plus, exercise and sunlight help to reduce jet lag!
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