Ambury Regional Park
- Access: open 24 hours
- Gate open in Summer: 6:00 am – 9:00 pm
- Gate open in Winter: 6:00 am – 7:00 pm
- Address: 43 Ambury Road, Mangere Bridge
- Great for: Bird watching
The Ambury Regional Park covers a vast area in the South of Auckland, not far from the Mangere Mountain volcano. The main walk leads in a half circle through the wetlands with views of the Manukau Harbour. Proper hiking shoes are recommended as the track can get get muddy at times, especially after rain or during high tide. The ground is then very soft and one can end up sinking into the ground, soaking shoes with mud and water.
The track is flanked by farmland with sheep and cattle pens on the left hand side and the flat coast line on the right hand side. The grass can be knee-high at parts with requires hikers to mind their step. Hidden puddles and water-ponds are lurking of the track. Beneficiaries of the high vegetation are the Pukekos which hide and stride throughout the whole Ambury Regional Park wetlands.
Enthusiastic bird watchers will appreciate the rustic bird watchers hut made out of lava rocks and wooden beams, that is located halfway through the wetlands. It is hard to resist its invitation to stop for a sandwich and spending some quality time spotting Pukekos and other birds that nest here.
Besides driftwood pieces in all sizes, the Ambury Regional Park is covered in chunks and piles of volcanic rocks and little caves and holes in the ground (none of which is occupied by a hobbit form what I can tell so far). If you follow the main path those obstacles wont affect you much. For the adventurers who don’t shy away from leaving the track, it is important to watch your steps.
The walk through the Ambury Regional Park wetlands ends in a fork. Behind a gate on the right-hand side starts the Watercare Coastal Walk (shore fishing along this walk is generally allowed but restricted in areas). Following the way on the left-hand leads back to the start of the wetlands track, the car park and picnic area. From here people can also choose to do the Lost Gardens Walk through the farmlands, focussing on the flora within the reserve.
For those who still haven’t had enough nature after the third walk, the Mangere Mountain volcano is just few hundred meters away. The Ambury Regional Park is a beautiful nature reserve on the edge of Mangere bridge, a great spot for bird watching. There are big groups of Pukekos in the area as well as other birds.
A pukeko bird hiding in the high grass in the wetlands of the Ambury Regional Park. It took me some patience to get a decent picture of a pukeko. One reason is that the birds are shy, which makes it hard to get closer. Also, because of the high grass and tussock patches in the wetlands of the Ambury Park, it is tricky to get a shot in which the birds are not completely covered by grass.
The scene is split into two distinctive areas, which is caused by the soft rolling hills in the Ambury park. The pukeko and foreground are very clear and crisp, while the background is creamy and darker green.
The above image shows a crack in the surface, where the basalt pushed upwards. It looks a little bit like a medieval stone bridge. I liked the strong contrast between the rock and the grass around it.
The basalt rock breaks through the surface on various spots in the Ambury Regional Park lava fields. The whole area is covered with rocks and shows some cuts and gaps in the surface, like the one above. There are tiny caves and holes throughout the area.
For more information, visit the Ambury Regional Park on the Auckland Council website.