Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tuff Crater Path

(Image from walksinaukland.com )

We got all our chores done yesterday evening so we would have some free time to go exploring this afternoon.   We took a walk along the Tuff Crater trail.  What a great spot to find so close to home! 

This is an old volcanic crater that was at one time just an overgrown mess with marginal habitat for wildlife.  In recent years there has been a major restoration project going on to improve area around the estuary.  Today there is a lovely trail with lots of bird life.

About the restoration:   Last May there were "1700 plants moved from Kaipatiki Project and placed out by 20 people over 8 trailer loads in 2 hours on a Friday afternoon in the rain. These plants were planted by 80 people in 2 hours followed by a volunteer run BBQ" (2015. ForestandBird.org.NZ)

Here is a quick 3 minute video about the project:

This is something we very much would like to get involved in, so I will be contacting the folks who are managing the ongoing efforts.

This is how the how the wetland were looking today:

Here is the site description from the 2009 Restoration Plan:
"Tuff Crater is located on Auckland's North Shore, and is a total area of 30.7ha ranging from 0 –20m elevation above sea level. It is often referred to as Tank Farm due to the historical fuel oil storage tanks semi-constructed by the United States Navy (c.1942-43) as part of the war in the Pacific (Birkenhead Historical Society, 2006). The tanks are now decommissioned and have become overgrown habitats with various exotic species and natives including raupo. The tank sites have been numbered 1-9 from the Millennium Forest end. A former freshwater crater lake formed by explosive eruptions and surrounded by steep tuff rings, Tuff Crater has been breached by the sea with rising sea levels, becoming an area of sheltered intertidal mangrove and salt marsh communities, fringed by pockets of freshwater wetland and sparse exotic and indigenous forest and plantings.

The crater is largely round, with reserve situated on the fringes of the crater, except where the Auckland-Waiwera Motorway runs to the southeast of the crater. This is where all the tidal exchange takes place via the tidal creek into Shoal Bay of the Waitemata Harbour. There is minimal freshwater input into the crater".

Because we are now in winter here in the southern hemisphere it was chilly enough to warrant a jacket.  Still, the sun was out, which made it a very pleasant afternoon/evening.   Many of the trees have lost their leaves, but there is still plenty of green around and some flowers blooming - something we don't get much of back home in our North American winters.

I'm very keen to see what this gem of a place will look like come spring and summer.   It's just a 10 minute drive from our flat and a real treasure to the north shore community.

Of course, it doesn't hurt at all that there are several geocache hides scattered along the trail - two of which we found today.

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