• Curious George & Me

Back to Auckland roadie


As much as I was looking forward to seeing friends and family on my visit back to Auckland, I can't say I was particularly looking forward to the drive. Breaking it up with mini adventures to new places on the way makes it a little more bearable. Although not unsurprisingly the worst part of the drive is always hitting the Southern Motorway. I certainly don't miss Auckland and all the traffic that comes with it! Thanks to a new feature on Auckland Councils website that allows you to filter locations to show just those that allow dogs off-lead, I thought id found some winners. Unfortunately after a bit of google research, I queried a couple of these with council who then told me in fact they weren't off-lead at all. So just be aware if you are using that new feature, don't take what it says as fact. They've since put up a note saying to trust the signs at the location, not the website. Which is sadly a bit of a cop out on the councils part as often the signs are also outdated, or there are none to be found. So sadly we didn't get to include some of the Auckland walks I had initially planned.

Day One:

So onto our first stop....

Leitch's Track - Whareorino Conservation Area

End of Leitch Road, Piopio

On-Lead (DOC Permitted Required)

Home to the Trollshaw Forest in The Hobbit, Leitch Road takes you past the dramatic limestone cliff that featured in the movie. I haven't seen the movie but you'll appreciate its grandeur even if you don't recognise it. Google Maps won't take you all the way to the end of the road, it gives up and tells you you've reached the end, but you'll want continue driving to reach Leitch's Track so keep following the gravel road until you reach a small parking area to the left. The only other option at the end of the road is someones driveway and thats clear to see so you won't mistake it. There is parking here for around 3 or 4 cars. There a few options for tracks here, but Leitch's Track is the shortest and I believe the only one dogs are allowed on (you still require a DOC permit).

After parking up, head up a small grass path till you reach a farm style gate which marks the entry to the walk. On the day we arrived there was a No Dogs sign, and a notice of 1080 poisoning. Having driven all this way and made it a special stop, George and I walked it anyway - he was on lead so I monitored him closely. I have since checked with DOC about the signage and it was in place due to the poisoning so of course they do advise against walking your dog there during these times. They did advise the No Dogs sign would be removed shortly when the poisoning timeframe had passed so this signage shouldn't be there full time.

We sadly didn't have the time to walk all the way to the hut, but it is an option if you choose to make this a longer walk (8.5kms to the hut). At one point the track was blocked and as we had hit our rough halfway point time wise, I took the block as our opportunity to turn around. Even though it had been hot over the past few weeks and reasonably dry, due to the cover of the bush, the ground was still quite muddy and wet in places so wear appropriate footwear. You also need to cross a few different streams, most are just a step across but if you have little legs like me you might have to be careful on your footing to not end up with wet feet through a few others!

I've provided details at the end of this post on how to apply for a DOC permit and the information you need to supply to be issued one. You can also visit Waitanguru Falls on this same road - details here: Waitanguru Falls, along with the Mangaotaki Walk which is documented below.

Resthills Park - Hamilton

John Webb Drive, Glenview, Hamilton

Off-Lead

If a dog utopia exists, then I think we've found it here at Resthills Park. Driving in via the John Webb Drive entrance, I was a bit concerned id picked the wrong place as it looked to be all sports fields. However don't let that fool you, you're allowed to walk your dog around any of the fields, as long as they aren't in use at the time. There are also toilets here thanks to the sports club, so a good stopover for a toilet break and a stretch of the legs. I parked up next to the sports club and initially walked around the sports fields surrounding the club, only to discover the park seemed to keep going behind a fence on the driveway that you could walk through but there was no access to cars.

OMG, doggie utopia! This place is huge, and the whole back area that you can access from Resthill Cres, Sunnyhills Ave or Macmurdo Ave is all free rein for your pooch. There are sheltered spots amongst the trees and wide open spaces to run around with friends or play catch. After already walking around the sports fields, George was hot and as much as I was keen to keep noseying around this place, he was ready to call it quits. This is definitely one thats worthy of a visit, even if there are sports games on at the time you arrive, there is still plenty of space to explore.

So the plan was at this point to head for South Auckland to do our final walk before heading to family to settle in for our weekend. However this plan was foiled by not only the ridiculous amount of traffic we hit even through Hamilton, but also we'd spent a little more time than we had planned at our first walks so we were running a bit behind. George was happily snoozing, so I crawled in Auckland traffic and gave up on stopping at our next destination.

Day Two:

After a recovery day, and a visit back to our favourite spot - Riverhead Forest, it was time to head home and start the adventures all over again. The Strawberry Farm on Kirkbridge Road in South Auckland was a must for a stopover, so I planned our first walk with this in mind. So here we go!...

Cape Hill Reserve - Pukekohe

Brownlee Place, Pukekohe

Off-Lead

Parking up on Brownlee Place brings you to the home of the entire duck population of Pukekohe! You might be best to keep your dog on-lead until you're safely out of their range as they are very comfortable around cars and people as it seems to be a local hotspot to feed them. Parking at Brownlee brings you directly to the entrance to start the short walk up hill. The pathway follows through the bush and creates a loop to the top of the hill so you can choose to go in any direction when you reach a fork in the track. George and I stayed on the path we started on until we reached a small farm gate. Crossing through the gate opens up to the hill, and starts to give views over Pukekohe. Climbing the path up the hill, you can choose to head right which leads you back to the adjoining roads, or head left and carry on up the hill to the lookout point. It's a short walk, but once you've reached the top and returned back down the path, the wide open grass area is available for a proper stretch of the legs - although watch out for those ducks that stray from the water!

Braithwaite Park - Hamilton

162 Totara Drive, Pukete

Off-Lead

Back in Hamilton again, and this time to a picturesque park alongside the Waikato River. Braithwaite Park allows you to follow a series of concrete pathways, or choose to make your own way around with the wide open grassy spaces. Unfortunately when we arrived on this day it was right on midday, so really too hot for George to be out for too long so we didn't get to spend much time here.

There are a couple of access points to the Waikato river here, but im not sure if dogs are able to swim here so poor George didn't get a dip this time although he still dipped his toes in hopes id give him the nod he was so desperately wanting. We followed the main pathway to the right initially, then turned around to head up the hill which opened up to another large open grass area and also the bridge to cross the river to Munros Reserve.

It's a large park, so one you could really spend some time in but due to the limited options for shade its definitely one to visit in the cooler parts of the day. Now, don't feel too sorry for George, after a stopover at the park we visited his favourite place, Raw Essentials where he got spoiled with treats and lounged around on the cold floor while I stocked up on his breakfast and dinner choices for the next few months!

Mangaotaki Walk - Piopio

1023 Mangaotaki Road, Mahoenui

On-Lead (DOC Permitted Required)

Now you may wonder why im sending you down the same road you drove to reach Leitchs Track documented above, but to find two walks you can do on the same road is pretty convenient if you ask me! I picked this one to do on our drive home just due to having frozen food for George from Hamilton in the car so this was the shorter of the two options. Both Leitchs and Mangaotaki require a DOC permit to walk your dog, but both can be obtained at the same time from the same DOC office.

The Mangaotaki Walk is the perfect option for a hot day as its completely shaded thanks to the large trees, and also provides some education for those of you interesting in learning more about what you're seeing. The track winds its way in a loop over tree roots, and provides at one point a viewing area for the limestone formations and the river. There are also some wonders of nature hidden in there, with a tree that looks like a home to fairies. You can head in either direction when the track forks at the start as you'll end up back in the same place. It takes around 30mins to complete the loop.

You can also visit Waitanguru Falls on this same road - details here: Waitanguru Falls

How to apply for a DOC permit:

The above walks all fall under Te Kuiti DOC office - contactable at tekuiti@doc.govt.nz. To apply for a DOC permit, you need to provide the following information;

  • Areas you want to access

  • Your name, address and phone number

  • Your dogs breed and registration number

  • Dates you wish to visit (if you're unsure of exact dates give them a guide as they will issue a permit covering a few months if required)

Places visited:

Leitchs Track - Piopio

Resthills Park - Hamilton

Cape Hill Reserve - Pukekohe

Braithwaite Park - Hamilton

Mangaotaki Walk - Piopio