Location: One Tree Hill, Auckland
Access: Car parks within Cornwall Park accessible from Green Lane West, and Campbell Road
Length: ca. 5km
Configuration: Network of tracks and open walking areas
Grade: Variable: mainly undulating, with some steep routes or sections
Status: on leash, with off leash areas
Cafes and restaurants: Cornwall Park restaurant, near centre of park
More information: http://www.cornwallpark.co.nz
We don't much like towns, especially big, busy ones. So we don't go to Auckland very often, and when we do our first act tends to be to find the nearest thing we can to some countryside, to walk the dogs. In central Auckland, you don't get much closer to the countryside than Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill.
Once through the gates, it's surprisingly quiet. And though the car parks are often fairly full, the place seems big enough to cope with everyone. There's also an extensive network of tracks that wander and loop across the park, and seem to converge at two prime locations: the cafe at the foot of the hill and the summit itself. Both are worth visiting.
We don't have any special route for walking the park, but just follow our inclination. If the weather is hot, we might park under the trees along Pohutukawa Drive (off Greenlane Road); if it's cooler, or if we've come in from the south, we might choose the car park on Kenneth Myers Drive. Wherever we start, though, we tend to take in most of our favorite areas of the park. The archery field (making sure that we both circle the butts and keep well out of range). The olive grove, where the dogs hunt for rabbits in the undergrowth. The summit, where we usually rest and look over the city: town-haters or not, we still like the view, for Auckland not only looks flat and harmless from up here, but remarkably attractive - thanks, in no small part, to the scatter of other volcanoes that are visible, and the further vistas to the sea and the dark looming shape of Rangitoto. Perhaps best of all, the hidden valley on the north side of the hill, where lovers and would-be lovers have written out their names using the large blocks of scoria that lie around on the grass. This time, Andy loves Tracey, while next to them it's Deb+Rick, and over there Lou and unfinished Jo. In a week or so's time, others will have moved in and commandeered the stones. Or maybe Rick will be with Tracey and Andy with Deb, while Jo will have become Jock or Josephine. Who knows?
Finally, we get back into our car with reluctance, knowing that outside the gates, the city is waiting for us again.