Having enjoyed visiting the original Oakley Creek Walkway, I continued to explore the next segment of Oakley Creek (Te Auaunga) in Alan Wood Reserve. This reserve has recently been renovated along with the opening of the Waterview Tunnel, with some renewed emphasis on the creek itself. The waterway has been cleared and defined in many places, and is a vast improvement on its previous condition. There are still areas where the banks are covered in weeds and the water is stagnant and filled with water weeds, but massive clearing and planting has taken place. It has the same feeling as the original section did 10 years ago and I am hopeful that the plants will grow and create a magical forested space.
Because the plantings are much newer, this section of the creek has a much more open feel to it. There are areas of well established trees and many of the houses on the other side of the creek have their gardens running right down to the water. The Avondale Motor Park also comes right to the edge of the bank and I see several campers enjoying their breakfast looking out across the reserve. There are not as many birds around but I still see tuis and kingfishers flying around and ducks sitting on rocks in the creek.
Towards the southern end of the reserve, the land becomes more swampy and wetland areas have been formed with lots of reeds and other swamp plants in and around them. The wildlife changes too with lots more pukeko (swamp hens) about and I even see a shag landing in the water.
The man-made features are a lot more obvious here without the trees having grown up around them but I am pleased to see that the ventilation shaft from the tunnel has been architecturally designed to be visually attractive and a lot of effort has been made to make a feature of the bridges.
The main Shared Path bridge across the motorway just before it plunges into the tunnel is a spectacular shape – it is called Te Whitinga (the Crossing) and its curving arch and ramp add form to the otherwise flat and swampy area.
Three other bridges also link to the natural environment although they are painted vibrant colours:
- Mokomoko Bridge (purple): named for the native copper skinks found in the area.
- Tuna Roa Bridge (blue): refers to the long finned eels (tuna roa) found in the Te Auaunga-Oakley Creek. The tuna can live up to 100 years of age, are protected by law and 600 short and long finned eels were relocated along the creek as part of the motorway project.
- Raupō Bridge (green): named for the bulrushes which are commonly found in wetlands and were used for many purposes including; making poi, thatching whare, rafts, and also providing habitat for fauna and flora.
The reserve also tries to link in with community use with sports grounds and playground areas as well. There is even a volcano inspired skate park!
At the southern-most point of the reserve, beyond Te Whitinga, Oakley Creek flows through a culvert under the motorway from a swampy area on the other side and into Alan Wood park.
Here are some of my photos documenting the area: