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29 September 2007

In the Steps of Jack Leigh

Chapter 18 Takapuna to Milford

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A gloriously sunny day and the last before daylight saving banishes dogs from Rodney beaches between breakfast and dinner.

Grasping our plastic doggy doo bag resolutely in one hand and the leash in the other we set out from The Promenade carpark at the north end of Takapuna Beach to join several hundred like-minded souls and their dogs on the 5.6km pilgrimage to Milford Beach and back, or vice versa.

Like most of Jack's walks it involves no special skills save the ability to stay the distance on gentle territory, and an ability to observe and respond to your surroundings.

You will be walking part of the way along the beach and part of the way along a foreshore track which is mostly flat. Near Takapuna there is a slightly more demanding section where you are picking your way across rock formations, and I was pleased to have my stick. Most of it is a doddle.

On the right is Rangitoto, and in behind Jack's evocation you can hear the fruity tones of Bruce Mason, alone on an almost bare stage, setting the scene for The End of the Golden Weather. On the opposite side are a collection of beachside homes ranging from one or two of the original baches to multilevel, multimillion dollar palaces of glass and chrome, separated from the sea by a collection of substantial walls which will provide much of the interest on this walk as the interface between man-made architecture and the raw force of the north easterly storms that occasionally strike with no apology.

The tinny just in front of Miranda has its bow stove in, and we have just passed a wooden sign reserving a space until a storm-shattered dinghy has been replaced

It is almost an architectural cliche that so many of the homes along here echo the appearance of the bridge of a large vessel.

Even the tree houses have a nautical theme:

I have to say that my collection of photos for the day was disappointing. I am more accustomed to lighting conditions in the bush, and failed miserably to take into account the extra contrast along the foreshore. Consequently, I returned on a subsequent occasion, minus Alice, to remedy this.

The North Shore has a longstanding reputation for boozy, teenage parties. Somewhere, early on, if you ask some of the people who were teenagers at the time, heavily confrontational policing of some of these parties began to generate its own backlash, and thenceforth the fun was not understood to have begun until the first police arrived on the scene.

Things have calmed a little, but public policy has been pre-emptive: keep the booze out of public places; separate alcohol and cars: force parents to take some responsibility for the scope of parties. But up to $20,000 in fines for an offence? It's not as if you're taking an undersized snapper, or anything.

Beside teenagers and re-election, the other huge fear that dominates local body thinking is dogs. You'd think the council was an arm of DoC. Alice is offended. She believes the silhouette should look more like an alsatian than a schnauzer.

These rules are assiduously enforced. The policing of these regulations is, of course, paid for out of the dog licensing fees. Kafka would have understood. I am sometimes tempted to run for council on a dog-owners' ticket. I would add only marginally to the lunacy that sometimes prevails.

I continue to salute the ARC for it's dog-tolerant policies throughout the Waitakeres and elsewhere.

We head off along the path behind the caravan park.

The beach, for the most part, is not what you'd call barefoot territory. The black rock is lava from the eruption of Pupuke.

We make our way across the lava flow to a track immediately below the wall.

Further along, small fresh water streams pouring out of the lava maintain the original connection with Lake Pupuke

At least along here, walls have the immediately underlying rock to refer to. As we get closer to Milford, according to Jack, there can be many metres of sand before a rock base is found, making the beach front sections highly vulnerable. We shall see evidence of this as we go.

Here and there, sweat and effort have created smaller sheltered kiddies' pools

You can see the narrow foot track just along here. Jack describes a man-made blowhole, covered by a wagon wheel.

Additional safety concerns have replaced the wagon wheel, but I imagine it'd be worth a trip here in a storm to see it in action.




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Track Reports

Annotated ARC



In the Steps of Jack Leigh


Fitness Building for the Elderly and Stout

Food for Tramping

General Advice:
Specifically oriented to the Heaphy Track but relevant to other long walks for beginners and older walkers

New Zealand Plants
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