A river runs through it: the Te Auaunga Restoration

A river runs through it: the Te Auaunga Restoration


Te Auaunga, also known as Oakley Creek, has a lot of fans. The waterway, its wildlife, and its waterfall have been rhapsodized in NZ Geographic. It’s cared for by the extremely dedicated Friends of Oakley Creek. And over a kilometre of the stream was recently daylighted and restored as part of the Waterview Connection.

Now, a further 1.5km of the waterway has been brilliantly revitalised through Walmsley and Underwood Parks in Wesley/ Mt Roskill, creating a natural green artery for the communities along the way. What began as a stormwater project to address flooding has resulted in a spectacular ecological restoration of the creek as it once was, with the bonus of all sorts of gorgeous new features as befitting a well-loved and well-used neighbourhood green space.  

We covered an earlier stage of the project here; and you can find out some more of the history and ideas behind the project here. This 2016 fly-through video by Boffa Miskell gives you an idea of the ‘Before’ status of the creek – stuck in a concrete channel amidst plain mown grass, and prone to flooding. 

Recently, Local Board deputy chair Julie Fairey has been tweeting Before and After comparison photos, as the project nears completion. Click on the tweet below to see the whole thread. It’s worth it!

On every level, this has been a powerfully energising project for Council, the Local Board, mana whenua, local schools, community organisations all the design and delivery partners, and the community at large, and the results are just stunning. It’s almost complete now, and will host a grand opening celebration on Saturday 6 July.

Our highest acclamations go to everyone who has worked for so many years to bring this vision to life, including our very own Richard Barter who was there at the inception as Puket?papa Local Board Chair. Kudos, and thank you, to everyone. 

Former Puket?papa Local Board chair Richard Barter and long-serving Albert-Eden Local Board member Margi Watson, celebrating the completion of a new bridge across Te Auaunga near Wainwright Ave, where people used to use a stormwater pipe as a handy link (Via Facebook).

Already familiar to many as a handy local walk and cycle connection, the freshly replanted and radically redesigned pathway along the stream will attract weekend wanderers from further afield, especially with its new natural playground, cool pump/ skate track, and direct safe off-road cycling connection from the Waterview Path. Indeed, people on wheels are already discovering its charms…

… and on a recent weekend, we took our own little explore-ride. The path was buzzing with all kinds of locals on foot and and on all kinds of wheels. Note, this is not a place to race through, but one where you’ll really want to slow down and admire the scenery and stop to explore the new features. (And yes, we’re following up on the question of non-slip treatments for those nice new boards underfoot).

Especially notable were the numbers of free-range kids exploring the new greenery, and family groups on the path. The Puketapapa Local Board area is home to one of Auckland’s most diverse communities, and the city’s largest settlement of new New Zealanders and former refugees. What a gift to have such a beautiful breathing space to share.

Check out the photos below; you’ll agree it’s looking absolutely glorious! Head on over and discover it soon. 

If you’re coming via the Waterview Path or the SH20 path from the south, you head up and over Te Whitinga Bridge (that’s Owairaka/ Mt Albert on the left). And then just sail straight down the other side…
… after crossing Te Whitinga bridge over SH20, you can now travel underneath Richardson Road.
Heading into Underwood Park; up on the little hillock to the right is the amazing natural playground.
A glimpse of the mara hupara natural playground: 100 Acre Wood meets Narnia and the 13 Story Treehouse.
The new red bridge, which replaces an old stormwater pipe that locals used as an informal footbridge.
The view from the new bridge: native replanting along the stream in Underwood Park.
Final touches on the herringbone patterned boardwalk through Underwood Park. You can just glimpse the pump track…
… and here’s the pump track in action. Very popular with the local kids already!
Further east in Walmsley Park, things get zig-zaggy and there’s a purpose-built outdoor classroom. And to the left, a colourful community fale, based on a design by Philipe Tohi. So many cool spots to explore, so many reasons to pause for a picnic and a play.
Eventually you arrive at Sandringham Road, home to the Wesley Community Centre and a lively market on Tuesday and Friday mornings, perfect for quaxing all your fresh veg. And just over the road, you’ll find…
…oh hi, Bike Kitchen! Next to the Roskill Youth Zone, and a wonderful place to donate quality used bikes and bike gear.
After you cross Sandringham Road, you’re into the Mt Roskill War Memorial Park, where the stream runs in its old school concrete channel past the playing fields. There are still fresh delights to be found hereabouts, including the famous eel-trap bridge.
Heading back west again. This is such a lovely ride for families on bikes. (There’s a baby on the bike in the distance!)
Smoother sections of concrete path alternate with the more visually arresting boardwalks. It’s a pleasant combo.
This final section of boardwalk has been completed since this photo was taken.
And then it’s back up over Te Whitinga, towards home.
On the way back up the Waterview Path, a little girl was having her first try at riding a pedal bike with training wheels, while her sister scooted behind. A perfect end to a perfect ride!

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