Monday, May 26, 2014

Upgraded Van Damme's Lagoon set to re-open July 2014

We last visited Van Damme's Lagoon in 2010.  It was in a sorry state, the water cloudy, paths muddy and flooded, the entire place just a bit smelly and dank.  But there was definitely beauty among the ugly, so we're quietly leaping with excitement to see the revamped version of Van Damme's.

Van Damme's Lagoon has had a history of  being repeatedly both loved and neglected. From around the mid-1800s the lagoon was used to supply water for the boilers and steam engines at the Ireland Bros Tannery. In the 1930s it was sold to Mr Theordore Van Damme who beautified and planted it.  After Mr Van Damme died it was sold to a corporation and subsequently used as a rubbish dump.  In the 1970s the council bought the lagoon with the aim of restoring it as a nature reserve.  By the mid-2000s it was again polluted and ignored.

The Lagoon is currently being upgraded as part of the AMETI (Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative) works. It's been closed to the public since September last year, and is set to re-open this July.

The list of improvements include weeding and additional planting, upgrading the paths and removal of excess sediment in the pond.  The reserve area is also being expanded with purchase of some adjacent land.  There will also be increased carparking available (but how about taking the train and checking out the upgraded station, it's only a short walk from there to the lagoon).

View Larger Map

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Views of Oakley Creek Part 1 - Upper Reaches

Keith Hay Park, Mt Roskill

View from Southwestern Motorway Pedestrian Bridge

View from Winstone Road, Mt Roskill

View Oakley Creek Walkway in a larger map (courtesy of Friends of Oakley Creek - thank you!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011


The Little Field Tripper's brother interacts with Analogue

Eugene (VJ Rex) Hansen's exhibition ROOTMEANSQUARE is on now at Te Tuhi until 29 January 2012.   Excellent collaborative sound installations and more.  Go!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mangere Bridge Foreshore

Our intention was to look at the furrowed lava flows (pahoehoe) on Kiwi Esplanade, a result of the eruption of Mangere 18,000 years ago.  But our timing was wrong, the flows are best seen at mid-low tide.

The full Manukau harbour was a glorious sight, no chop on the water, a warm autumn day.  So we drove to the end of the esplanade to Ambury farm, wishing we had our bikes, and wondering why the place wasn't as populated as some of Auckland's Eastern Beaches (and secretly liking that).

Bird Refuge - hundreds of Oyster Catchers

Looking toward Mangere mountain, the seagull house in the distance

Oyster Catcher in flight, looking toward Waikowhai

The seagull house up close

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Big Hole In Our Backyard

There was an open day at the Three Kings Quarry on 7 May, 2010.  We've only ever leaned up against the hurricane fence in the Eiffel en Eden carpark and look down into the quarry, so took the opportunity to see it from a different perspective.  It is one enormous hole. 

This goodwill building exercise on behalf of quarry owners Winstone was promoted as a fun family day, with plenty of heavy machinery to look at, climb on and sometimes have a go at, as well as free food, coffee and prizes.  The serious stuff was inside a marquee:  aerial maps of the quarry and surrounding area, leaflets and video on the workings of the quarry operation. 

We spent quite a bit of time in the tent, and outside, but not once were we approached by anyone giving out forms.

Now we find out that after several years and promises that blasting had finished at Three Kings,  Winstone Aggregates are starting a blasting programme next month which will continue for a year.  It was reported in The Herald that forms about this were distributed at the open day.  Maybe they'd run out by the time we got there...

The blasting is required, say Winstone, to level the floor of the quarry. Why it is necessary to do that was a question not answered at Monday's Site Liason Group meeting.  However, Joel Cayford in his Reflections on Auckland Planning blog has an interesting take on the possible reason:  "Mr Chote did not go on to explain why the floor needed to be leveled. But I can guess. It will make it easier to engineer a structurally robust fill, not subject to differential settlement - because it will be even - and so more valuable for building because it will support medium density and more. There was no information presented about the future use. However it makes sense to maximise that value for the shareholder (Fletchers). Steps are being taken to plan for this longer term future...." There is also excellent additional reportage on the meeting.

There is also concern that when Winstone do fill the quarry, they won't use cleanfill, which could result in contaminants leaching into the natural aquifer under the quarry.  Save Auckland's Underground Water From Pollution is a Facebook page dedicated to this issue.  Like.

We'll be watching (and hearing no doubt) what Winstone Aggregates get up to at the quarry over the next few months. 

Friday, March 18, 2011


The little field trippers have had a quiet summer, only venturing to the end of the cul de sac.  But, we're formulating plans to visit new (and revisit some) places around Auckland soon.

We have, however, found this selection from a side-trip to Foxton we did a while back.

Looking toward the cafe from outside De Molen windmill

De Molen windmill

The view from the top of De Molen windmill

Kiari & Travis uncover crabs at Foxton Beach

Makes delicious pancakes!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Turua Street Spanish Mission Houses Destroyed

8, 10 and 12 Turua Street. Photo: Save Turua Street

We took a field trip to St Heliers, where protests had been heating up over the heritage value of three Spanish Mission style 1930s houses on Turua Street.  These houses, and two Victorian cottages on the same side of the street, are owned by developers Ancona Group, who intend to raze the block to build office, retail and apartment space.  

There is excellent documentation of the fight to keep these buildings on the Save Turua Street Facebook page, outlining the argument for preservation, links to reportage and photographs. 

Since our first visit in mid-January, we've been back to Turua Street three times. 

This is what we saw.

Detailing on number 8

The Little Field Tripper down the driveway between 10 and 12

The Little Field Tripper's favourite detail:  the four plaster dots

We admired this doorway and lead light window detailing
Save Our St Heliers group signs

The Save Our St Heliers group protesters pegged their signs to the hurricane fencing, sat on make-shift chairs, waved signs at passing cars and talked with any willing passerby.  Well done those people!

After the demolition of the back of number 10

"Deconstruction Artists"

Fencing erected along length of Turua Street. As of today there is an Environment Court hearing pending on the houses, so no further demolition can take place.  The order is in place until Wednesday 26 January

Damage to the back of number 10 Turua Street

"The bulldozers will be moving in to destroy another unique piece of Auckland’s heritage after the Environment Court decided today that an enforcement order would not be granted to Save Our St Heliers Society to prevent demolition of the heritage houses in Turua Street."
(Press release, Save Turua Street, 27 January 2011)

 The houses were demolished on Friday 28 January, 2011.