Saturday 21 September
Long Bay to Devonport Wharf (23 km)
We had a brilliant solidarity turnout, bigger than we had hoped. Not everyone is seen in this photo, but the full list of solidarity souls consists of Marius, Etienne, David, Margaret, Amelia, Tim, Luke, Gary, Sue, Tegan, Judy, Kate, Tracy, Leigh, Dave (another one), Chazel and Richard. Other people did not walk, but came to egg us on: Joy, Joe and Lana. And finally, the most important beings in the group: Bobby, Loquita, Malachi and Zoë, the four dogs. Zoë took her role as trail leader and pet therapy consultant very seriously.
Most of the people (and two of the dogs) did the full walk to the wharf, despite many not being accustomed to such a distance. The weather helped, though; it was cool and windy. Again, despite the weatherman’s ominous croakings, we had a comfortable day and were not rained upon. Occasionally the visibility was limited, but that didn’t spoil things; the walk was beautiful.
We tramped from 8.30 until 4.00, starting at high tide. Timing meant that the first half of the route had to be done on the all-tide track and the second half on the beach. A long track section can easily be completed on a concrete pathway at the foot of the cliffs.
Quaint view of the day was of this incongruous, life-sized giraffe sculpture in someone’s beachfront garden, and laugh of the day came from Hannah, who quoted one of her Internet finds. “If you play Jaws the movie backwards, you have a story about a shark which vomits up so many people that they had to open a beach.” After that, several of us took turns creatively applying the backwards playing narrative principle to other movies we’d seen.
The North Shore coastal walk is a really interesting route geologically, as you are reminded of Auckland’s volcanic base. In places, strange holes appear in the harsh, black rock, indicative of a Pompeii-like time, when the lava flowed over trees. Only the spaces are left now, to show the position of the original trunks or roots. There is more evidence of how the pohutukawa tree is relentless in grasping its living in what must initially have been a hostile environment for a small tree sprout after an eruption. This tree is long dead, but its roots are thrust through gaps in the rock.
In other places, the coastline comprises much softer material. Caves are easily carved and cliff erosion and rockfalls are an ongoing hazard. We came across what is likely to be the remains of a cliff-top construction, which had fallen to the beach to rust.
From the wharf we could see the Auckland waterfront and CBD, where we would be starting our coast-to-coast walk the next day.