Walk status: Off-lead
My technique of picking out large open grass areas on Google Maps and going to check them out paid off big time here! Churchill Park is a 40-hectare park named after Winston Churchill, and may now be our favourite walk.
Arriving at the carpark on Riddell Road, you'll find a wide expanse of farmland set out before you. To the left of the carpark is a farm gate (not latched, push only) that gives you access to the many options of pathways here. We set off to the left hand side and followed the pathway until it forked off up a hill. There are cattle grazing here, so be aware that they could be anywhere in the park. Best to put your dog on a lead past them if you're unsure how your dog would react around stock.
Heading up the hill and through the next farm gate gives you a stunning view over the water and the Glendowie Boating Club. Following the path to the bottom of the hill, you can chose to exit the park to one of the nearby streets or continue the pathway to head back up the hill and continue the loop. There are many access points to enter and exit the park from nearby streets, but Riddell Road is the main access point and its easy to create a loop from there.
The pathway is wide and gravel so a great option for a winter walk if you're trying to stay clean and dry. The expanse of space here allows the dogs to truly get a good run around. George tends to stick to the path when its just me and him, but had we had a few of his mates with us they would have loved hooning around here. Due to the cattle the grass areas are very uneven as they've churned them up and will be muddy in the wetter months. In Summer there is limited shade so best to avoid in the heat of the day.
Continuing on the path back up towards where we came, we reached another lookout spot - these are dotted around the park with bench seats to take a moment to enjoy it. Through another farm gate and to the left we followed the track down to another road exit, before heading around to the right and what now looks like a completely different park. Away from the familiar farm view, you're now walking in what feels like a bush track, across a bridge and alongside the stream and surrounding houses. It's nicely shaded through here on a hot day and a few areas where the dogs can access the water for a dip to cool off. We met a keen Lab who had clearly been for a swim, even in today's chilly water temperatures.
After walking this bush pathway, there is a fork in the track. The options are to head straight, cross a small bridge on the right to a side street, or head up the gravel path up a hill. Straight will take you to the school, which dogs need to be on lead for so we headed up the gravel path up the hill to finish the loop. This track leads you back to the carpark. Note that the pathway off to the right from the carpark is required to be on-lead due to the proximity of the school. If you head left like we did, and come back up the centre pathway then you can keep your dog off-lead for the full walk.
This walk only took us 30mins or so and thats at a slow stroll to take in the view and it was 2.4km to complete the loop we did. As George had stuck to the pathway with me and not really had a decent run around, I opted to go back to the car and grab the ball to give him a bit more exercise and we were in no rush to leave this doggie paradise.
This is definitely one to checkout, and take a ball or some doggie friends to make the most of all this space.
Location: 330 Riddell Road, Glendowie
Carparking is good at the Riddell Road entrance.
Things to know:
There are no toilets here
Grass areas will be muddy, especially in winter
You can create a longer walk by completing the Point to Point walkway, see details here: http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz