Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. It has an uncanny distinction of being one of the very few cities in the world having harbours on two large oceans, namely Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean. These two oceans are divided by the Auckland isthmus. The central part of the Auckland city is situated on this isthmus and is called ‘Tāmaki-makau-rau’ in Maori language.
Given this amazing geographic location of the city, one is never too far from the water. The same is reflected in the rich maritime history of the city and the country as a whole. The two major harbours in Auckland are Manukau harbour on the Tasman Sea which is on the western side of the city and the Waitemata harbour on the Pacific Ocean to the north eastern side of the city.
|A story about a ship wreck that happened nearby.|
No wonder there has been a lot of maritime traffic connecting New Zealand shores to the rest of the world for the past two centuries. This demanded construction of many lighthouses across the country to assist the incoming vessels dock safely into the rocky harbours. Currently there are 23 lighthouses in the country (Maritime New Zealand). Some have been decommissioned in the past due to the fact that they were not needed anymore.
|Entry gate to the Lighthouse.|
Manukau Heads Lighthouse is one of those which are not in operation now. It is situated on the Awhitu peninsula on the south side of Manukau heads. Although it can be seen from the south Waitakere ranges, it takes almost an hour and a half to reach there by car from Auckland as the drive is around the Manukau harbour.
|Whatipu Beach seen from Lookout.|
While flying internationally and domestically from Auckland Airport, I used to see this tiny lighthouse while takeoff or landing whenever the airplane went above it. I always wondered about this place and how beautiful it must be given the isolated location. It wasn't until 2016 when I got a chance to visit this unique lighthouse.
We thought of making a day's outing and this place came to my mind. I checked the route and any available information on the internet. Everything seemed good and we started on our way. We drove through the southern motorway towards Pukekohe and took the State Highway 22 towards Glenbrook. The moment we were on the highway it seemed totally out of the urban area. The whole surroundings had a great rural feel to them.
|The Lighthouse seen from nearby Lookout.|
Moving ahead we reached a small town called Waiuku and took the turn towards Awhitu. The road became narrower as we moved ahead and the scenery became more beautiful. In almost half an hour we could see the Tasman Sea towards our left side and breathtaking hilly terrain. Following the directions of the lighthouse we reached the lighthouse entry point.
|Info graphic describing the geology of the site.|
The road to the lighthouse car park from the main road is short and unsealed. We parked on the side and saw the white coloured lighthouse on the top of the hill. The walk to the lighthouse was a quick easy climb on the paved stairs. We reached the lighthouse entrance and could see a breathtaking view of Manukau Harbour. Luckily we had got a clear sunny day which made the views even better.
We walked towards the entrance and learned that there was a staircase inside the lighthouse to climb upwards. We were thrilled to see that since there are not many lighthouses in New Zealand where one can go inside and observe. We made the most of the opportunity and quickly climbed the stairs to get out on the balcony of the lighthouse tower.
|Places labelled on the picture.|
The views were even better. We could see the Auckland Sky Tower far in the distance. Towards the west was the vast Tasman Sea and towards the south east was Auckland airport. I also saw some airplanes taking off and landing down in the distance. It was a marvellous experience altogether.
We clicked some pictures and saw a group of foreign tourists coming towards the tower. They were only the first tourists after we had arrived there. We read about the lighthouse on the information displays provided there. There was a donation box inside the tower which said that this building was on private land and was being maintained by the community solely for courtesy.
|Local Artefacts outside the Lighthouse.|
Inside there were huge lenses where a light source would be kept in the night so that it could send its beam as far as 18 nautical miles. This was the first time I got to see the old mechanism of the lighthouses.
We also learned that the actual lighthouse was on a location a bit far away from the current location. But then it was taken down after being decommissioned and this current tower was rebuilt by the lighthouse building committee.
|Another beautiful Artefact.|
After walking out of the tower we walked towards the lookout point which was constructed on the western side of the tower. It offered amazing 360 degree views to the surroundings. There were a lot of beautiful artefacts installed there which signified the local culture and folklore.
We didn't even realise that we had spent almost an hour there, just in awe of the place and the surroundings. We then walked to the car park and decided to drive back. On the way back I saw the signs for Awhitu Regional Park and thought to give it a look. It is a nice regional park ideal for a day's outing especially with children.
|Awhitu Regional Park Photo Frame.|
We drove towards the parkland and there was a large car park ahead. We parked there and noticed some camper vans parked there. Some people were relaxing in the sun and some were reading leisurely on the grass. We walked ahead and saw the access to the nearby beach from the car park. Walking towards it we reached the photo frame showing beautiful scenery, which is reminiscent of every regional park maintained by the Auckland council.
After roaming around and admiring the beautiful surroundings we walked back to our car and drove away towards Waiuku. Instead of driving towards Pukekohe we took the road towards Glenbrook. On the way I noticed a sign for waterfalls and I quickly took the turn to find out more about that. We reached the end of the road where there was a small beautiful waterfall called Waitangi Falls.
There were few people already there, enjoying summer and chilling in the water. Some daredevils were jumping into the base of the waterfall from the top and high tree branches nearby. It was a nice little place. We moved ahead from there and decided to drive through Clarks Beach.
In a 15 minutes drive we reached the Clarks Beach holiday home. The beach in front was beautiful and children were playing in the waters since it was low tide that time. We took a relaxing break there and walked the surrounding areas. There were a lot of beautiful beach houses there and it looked like a lifestyle choice made by people to live there, both away from the urban hustle and not too remote from the main city.
|Looking north towards Auckland city from Clarks Beach.|
We started back towards home and it was already evening. After just above an hour's drive we reached home and thought that it was a day well spent even though we were in Auckland.
Read more about the Manukau Heads Lighthouse here:-