This post may contain compensated links. For further information please read our disclosure.

Ambury Park in Auckland

Ambury Park

You may not have heard of Ambury Park.  It’s an Auckland Regional Park located on the shores of the Manukau Harbour and only a 30 minute drive from the city or 10 minutes from the Airport.  It’s also a working farm, a good picnic spot, has a number of walking trails and is a place of interest for bird watchers.

If you aren’t going to get out of Auckland on your visit to New Zealand it’s an opportunity for the kids to get up close to the farm animals and get that essential photo of New Zealand sheep, whose going to believe you actually went to New Zealand, the country with more sheep than people and didn’t see one!

Pitt Island Sheep

Ambury Park sits in the shadow of the volcanic cone of Mangere Mountain and on the shore of the Manukau Harbour.  Mangere Mountain erupted around 20,000 years ago it’s lava flow running down to the sea across the area now known as Ambury Park and the Otuataua Stonefields to the south.  This lava field was made fertile by volcanic ash which provided well for the the traditional owners of the land, the Maori tribes of Wai-o-Hua and Ngati Whatua and continues today to provide home-owners and market gardeners in the area with rich and fertile gardens.

There are information boards throughout the park that are good for general interest and also to add an educational aspect to a family outing.  For example they explain how we now know how long ago the volcano erupted.  It explains that scientists found a piece of wood buried under a lava flow and dug it up, from that they were able to establish the age of the wood through carbon dating.

Ambury Park Walking Tracks

There are a number of tracks in the park from the Farm Animal Walk (1km) which is easy walking and suitable for pushchairs and Wheelchairs to the Watercare Coastal Walkway out to the Otuataua Stonefields which is around 16km return.  In between the 2km Foreshore walk or Lost Gardens walk provide several points of interest and an easy flat walking track.

Because the park is a working farm and to ensure the safety of the  farm animals you are asked to leave all gates the way you found them.  Also obviously don’t chase the animals and leave the family pet at home.  Dogs can’t be walked in the park and are only allowed on the Loop Road between the bull paddocks and Kiwi Esplande.

Ambury Park

Farm Animal Walk

This one is suitable for the whole family but younger children were particularly enjoying it.  From the carpark head towards the wool shed and milking shed.  Behind these you can wander through the grassy lanes between the animal enclosures and get up close with many of the animals.  You’ll find sheep and lambs in season, turkeys, chickens, horses, cows, pigs and rabbits.  Allow up to an hour to wander through this area.

Ambury Park

Watercare Coastal Walkway

The Otuataua Stone Fields are the only place in Auckland where Maori stone structures remain on public land.  The walk between the park and the stone fields is 8km of wide and well drained track, you will return along the same path making for a 16km walk which might be a bit much for most families.  It’s quite varied landscape which makes it an interesting trail with a good variety of bird life but you might prefer to get dropped off at one end or the other if possible and walk one way which is what we did.

Ambury Park

Foreshore walk

Walking around the headland can be a bit windy with a fresh breeze blowing in off the harbour.  Follow the yellow markers out from the woolshed and learn a bit about the local history from information boards along the trail and enjoy the many lookout points along the way.  You’ll cross over the open pastures to the shore where birds roost on the rocks and shell covered beaches.  At low tide you can watch them gathering food in the mud flats.

During the migration there can be up to 20,000 birds in the area or on the wing at once, they have come north from the South Island or from as far away as the Arctic.  New Zealand has relatively few bird species compared to other countries but 86 species have been identified in the Ambury Park area which is a significant proportion.  One of our favourites is the relatively common tui’s which are endemic to New Zealand.  Their song is so beautiful and they are so determined to gorge themselves on flax flowers in season that they end up with their feathers stained with the orange pollen.

New Zealand Tui

Lost Gardens walk

The lost gardens are pre-European gardening sites used by the traditional Maori land owners in the area.  You’ll see some original stone mounds in the area which were used to mark the gardens.  For this walk head out from the wool shed through the paddocks towards Kiekie Road.  You’ll be sharing the paddocks with sheep, huge Clydesdale horses and of the most interest to the children on the walk, feral rabbits.  Being a pest doesn’t stop them being cute I guess.

Rabbit at Ambury Park

In Summary

Ambury Park is an Auckland Regional Park, there are no entry or other fees for day use.  Whether you’re looking to fill a couple of hours, of a full day there are options here to enjoy.  There are picnic tables, BBQ facilities and clean toilets available for public use and plenty of room to run around and areas suitable for a game of cricket or to kick a ball around.  Camping is also allowed in the designated areas but  a permit is required and there are fees associated with that.

The Auckland Regional Council manages 26 regional parks around the city and we’ve enjoyed all the ones we’ve been to so far.  Have you been to Ambury Park yet?

 

10 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.