Taking anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to walk, the coastal pathway from Milford Beach to the boat ramp at Takapuna is well worth the time. Taking in Black Rock, Thorne Bay and NZ’s only example of a fossil forest, the walk is a fascinating geological landscape.
Around 100,000 years ago, Lake Pupuke was a volcanic crater which erupted, covering the coastal forest of kauri, pohutukawa and various broadleaf trees with hot lava. The trees turned to cinders and the area between O’Neill’s and Brett Avenue has wonderful examples of fossilised tree trunks. It’s best to do the walk at low tide when the fossil forest is completely exposed. The rock pools are a source of fascination for children and the views over the Hauraki Gulf magnificent.
Much of the walk is formed concrete paths, but the odd patch is more of a rocky scramble – quite safe as long as you take care. I spent the first years of my life in and around this coastal playground as my father was the local Postmaster and we lived in the historic Post Office in Earnoch Avenue. The coastal walk is a showcase of historic and architecturally significant Takapuna homes. One of these is Merkesworth Castle, built in 1926 by Scotsman Captain John Algie and retained by the Algie Family until quite recently. The Giant’s Chair, built of local volcanic rock, was also commissioned by Captain Algie and is a curious and delightful aspect of the walk.
The area is abundant in sealife and one morning at 6.00am I watched a school of orca swim by just 50 metres from the rocks. You may be lucky to see them again as the orca in Auckland are a family group that patrol from The Far North to the Hauraki Gulf chasing sting ray, sometimes right up the Waitemata Harbour as far as Beach Haven.
Finish your walk by treating yourself to a delicious gelato from the Takapuna Beach Cafe and Store