Description

Last updated July 13, 2019 01:39 PM

The restored paths along Oakley Creek are proving a huge attraction, and no wonder. Directly connected to the Waterview Shared Path, this neighbourhood route along a waterway has been utterly transformed by a flood-proofing project that became so much more.

Now, gorgeous new paths and boardwalks wind through native plantings, over bridges, past cool places to play, creating a backyard wonderland to explore. Here’s a hand-drawn map showing the highlights…

A hand-drawn map of the Te Auaunga Project, by Julie Fairey, deputy chair of the Local Board (click to enlarge).

You could start from either end – the paths run between Richardson Road and Sandringham Road extension near the Wesley Community Centre – or you can enter the paths at an of the side street accesses.

The path on the map above is about 1.3km long, so a half-hour there and back walk for an average adult – but if you’re visiting with kids we suggest you plan to take your time, as there’s lots to see and do along the way,

If you’re arriving from the west via the Waterview Shared Path, you’ll sail over SH20 on Te Whitinga Bridge, from where you can watch cars pour into and out of the Waterview tunnels.

Up and over Te Whitinga Bridge across SH 20. Worth an up and back even if you’re not planning on riding the full Waterview Path.

Then you hang a right at the bottom of the bridge on the eastern side of the motorway, and swoop under Richardson Road via the new underpass. Hoot for echos!

The underpass at Richardson Road, saves you crossing a busy road AND has great echoes.

And then you’re into Underwood Park, the first of the two long skinny parks that the new paths run through. Pretty soon you’ll see a small hill to the right with a stand of trees. Inside the trees is a mara hupara, a natural playground made of giant logs and bits and bobs. A brilliant place to explore. There are bike racks on the far side, but you could also just do what everyone does and drop your bike and run to the playground!

Everyone wants to stop at the playground, and why not. (Keep the path clear for others coming through, though!)

Next stop: the nifty pump track, where parents and kids alike can try their skills. We’re told some commuting dads make a point of taking this path so they can do a few loops around the pump track on the way to and from work.

The undulating pump track is always busy with bikes, skateboards, and scooters, and riders young and old.

Keep following your nose, and you’ll find yourself emerging out of Underwood Park, crossing Beagle Ave (look out for cars), and then heading into Walmsley Park, the second half of the project to restore the creek to health.

Here, you have a choice of riding on one side of the creek or the other. Try both!

On the north side of the creek, you’ll discover the colourful community fale, and a handy new toilet block next door. On the south side, zig-zag paths lead to a little island. Officially this is an outdoor classroom, but if you’ve got a good imagination it could be whatever you want it to be.

The outdoor classroom in Walmsley Park, with the community fale glimpsed at the left.

Once you get to Sandringham Road, you have a choice – turn back and explore the restoration project some more, or keep going into Mt Roskill War Memorial Park (not shown on the hand-drawn map, but follow your nose along the path).

It’s interesting to see the creek in its previous state, stuck in a concrete channel. Children might be interested to know that the restored creek is much better at not flooding the nearby houses, because the extra water can more easily soak back into the native plantings.

The Oakley Creek in its ‘tamed’ but not natural state, in a concrete channel. An instructive contrast to the restored landscape to the west.

And if you keep going a few more minutes through the War Memorial Park, you’ll find the Hinaki Eel Trap Bridge, a spectacular construction well worth the special visit.

An eel trap for young players… the Hinaki bridge in the Mt Roskill War Memorial Park

Other local attractions

Just on the east side of Sandringham Road is the Wesley Community Centre, home of the famous Roskill Bike Kitchen. There’s also a small traditional playground there, and a nice flat circular paved area where you can ride round and round in circles.

And, if you’re lucky enough to be here on a Tuesday or Friday, 7.30am – 1pm, you’ll find the Wesley Market – one of Auckland’s oldest farmers’ markets, with food and fresh veg to enjoy.

Fresh delights of all kinds at the Wesley Market, next to the Wesley Community Centre on Tuesday and Friday mornings, through till 1pm.

The nearest bikeable cafes (if you’re confident heading off the paths) are Lena on the corner of Sandringham and Mt Albert Road, or the Baklawa Cafe on Stoddard Road. Otherwise, it’s BYO snacks and drinks for a picnic.

What to watch out for

The landscape design offers chances to get up close to the water – which is wonderful, but also means you’ll want to keep your eyes on your youngsters at all times. Also, several boardwalk sections don’t have fenced edges. There’s never far to fall, but if anyone’s a bit wobbly it’s probably best to plot a course straight down the middle, or hop off and walk.

Keep a straight line on the boardwalks and watch your wobbles!

Definitely keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, which include all sorts of birds. We’re told there are some interesting native fish in the water. Not sure if anyone’s spotted eels yet, but you never know – the newly healthy stream should attract them back soon!

Plenty of houses back right onto the paths, so be courteous and considerate of neighbours who share this gem of a location. An enviable spot!

Heading back west again. Such a lovely ride for families on bikes. (Yes, there’s a baby on the bike in the distance).

Location

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Category:
Kids Rides
Suitable for:
  • Absolute Beginner
  • Learner (balance bike, trainer wheels)
  • Confident child (pedal bike - no trainer wheels)
  • Scooter
Time required:
Up to 1 hour
Are there steep sections?
No
Toilet AvailableToilet
Playground AvailablePlayground
Other amenities:
Pump track, outdoor classroom, community fale, and all sorts!
Parking:
Depends where you want to start exploring. You can park near the community centre on Sandringham Road Extension, or at any of the side street entrances to Underwood or Walmsley Park – see map.
Area:
Central
Type of outing:
Perfect for when you want an urban adventure soaked in nature. A magical green gem in the midst of of a neighbourhood.
Transport required:
  • Bike
  • Drive
Weather dependent:
No
Kids visible at all times?
No
Suitable for keeping multiple kids visible?
Maybe
Watch out for:
So much to discover along these paths, from the mara hupara natural playground, to the creatures in the creek itself, it's an unfolding delight. If you make your way to the western end, you'll discover the soaring Te Whitinga Bridge over SH20, where you can watch cars pour into and out of the Waterview tunnels.