Wrights Water Gardens

Wrights Water Gardens is a private garden developed around the historic Mauku waterfall and quarry.

The gardens are located 128 Mauku Road, Patumahoe and are open October through May, Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 4:30pm. During the winter months (June to August) the gardens are only open weekends.

There is also a café, gift shop and nursery onsite. The gardens are a popular venue for weddings and private functions.

Adults are $12, Seniors $10, Children $6. Dogs on a leash are most welcome.

The Mauku waterfall and stream is the focal point of the gardens. Back in the 1800s there was a huge waterwheel located at top of the waterfall, which powered a nearby flax mill. This was dismantled in 1869, and the area became a popular picnic spot for locals.

Following the Second World War the land was turned into a rock quarry. After the quarry was abandoned the site was left unkempt with rubbish and weeds growing for the next forty years.

Mauku waterfall

Mauku waterfall

The quarry was developed into a 4 acre garden, which opened in 1992. Numerous pathways and bridges weave through this the magical garden.

The Hardy Waterlilies flower around September finishing late March. Tropical waterlilies start flowering in mid December finishing in May, and the Lotus start following in late December finishing in late February.

As well as the water gardens there are several special features including a wedding lawn, rock garden, boulder garden, Oriental garden, wishing well, and the Balinese Temple, a Buddhist temple.

The new owners of the gardens have also placed various sculptures and statues throughout the gardens.

Wedding Lawn

Wedding Lawn

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Balinese Temple

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The Kentish Hotel

The Kentish Hotel is a historic hotel, pub and restaurant in the historic township of Waiuku, south of Auckland.

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The hotel is located at number 5 Queen Street, Waiuku.

It was built in 1851 by Edward Constable. It was granted a liquor license in 1853, which means it has the honour of having the longest continuous liquor license in the country.

The hotel has hosted many dignitaries over the years, including the Māori King Te Whero Whero, Governor Sir George Grey, Prime Ministers Richard Seddon, Sir Joseph Ward and William Massey.

The Kentish survived a fire in Queen Street in 1926. While the fire destroyed a block of wooden buildings opposite, the hotel was saved by volunteers who hung wet sheets over the hotel’s façade.

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I stopped for lunch here a couple of Sundays ago and unfortunately it was a disappointing experience. The service was cold, impersonal and slow (in their defence they did have a party of 9 and 6 to be served ahead us). When the food did arrive the presentation was poor.

If in Waiuku definitely check out this historic building – maybe just have lunch elsewhere. Or maybe you will have a better experience – have you been to The Kentish Hotel before let me know in the comments what you thought.

Glenbrook Vintage Railway

Glenbrook Vintage Railway is a heritage steam railway in Glenbrook, south of Auckland.

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The Glenbrook Vintage Railway runs on a 7.5km portion of the old Waiuku Branch line, which opened in 1922 and closed in 1967.

The railway is run and maintained entirely by volunteers. The volunteers are dressed in uniforms based on New Zealand railway uniforms from the early 1900s.

At the station souvenir paper tickets can be purchased from the ticket window, a variety of cold and hot food and drinks are available from the refreshments room, and souvenirs can be purchased from the station bookstall.

I recommend arriving early to see the train being coupled.

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Trains depart at 90 minute intervals: 11am, 12:30pm, 2:00pm and 3:30pm. The return trip takes approximately 65 minutes.

Passengers can either travel in the rich wood-panelled carriages or in the open viewing cars – smell and breathe in that coal smoke!

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After approximately 20 minutes the train will stop for 10 minutes at Victoria Avenue, Waiuku. Passengers can disembark here and explore the historic township of Waiuku and catch a later train back (1pm, 2.30pm, 4pm).

On the return journey the train will stop at Pukeoware Workshops for approximately 15 minutes where passengers can look at locomotives and other stock under restoration.

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Adults $20, Child (4-14) $10, Under 4s are free. There family pass and group concessions available as well.

Trains run Sundays and most public holidays from late October to early June. Occasionally they host special events, such as Thomas the Tank Engine themed days.

Hunua Falls

Hunua Falls is part of the Hunua Ranges Regional Park.

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To get to Hunua Falls before Hunua Village, turn left into White Road and then left into Falls Road and then follow this road. During the summer (daylight savings) the gates are open 6am to 9pm; winter 6am to 7pm.

It is a short walk to the 30 metre waterfall, which is part of the Wairoa River. There is a large beautiful photo frame, which looks out to the waterfall, providing a photo opportunity.

There are two short walks. The Hunua Falls Upper Lookout Walk, is a 30 minute return walk through bush to a lookout platform. The Hunua Falls Lower Lookout Walk is a 15 minute return walk that takes visitors to the opposite side of the waterfall pool.

Both walks are accessible by crossing a footbridge over the river and turning to the right. It is also possible to view the waterfall from the footbridge.

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There is a large car park, toilet facilities and picnic tables in the clearing before the large photo frame.

While swimming in the river is possible, swimming in the pool below the waterfall is not recommended as the pool is up to 19 metres deep. Tragically there have been 9 drownings since 1980, so please take caution.

Castaways Resort

Castaways Resort is a cliff top resort overlooking Karioitahi Beach.

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Castaways Resort

The resort is located at 685 Karioitahi Road, Karioitahi Beach, Waiuku. Approximately 45 minutes drive from Auckland Airport.

My flatmates and I had lunch at the Agave Restaurant, which is open 7 days from 9.30am till late for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner.

For lunch I had the Southern Fried Chicken Wrap, a Louisiana style crispy chicken, sundried tomato tortilla with frijole, corn kernels, cos lettuce, tomato salsa, served with guacamole, sour cream and rocket. Sandip had the Beer Battered Fish n Chips served with chunky fries, a light salad, tartare sauce and fresh cut lemon. Yana had the Cajun Chicken Gourmet Burger with bacon, aioli, lettuce and tomato, served with chunky fries.

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Southern Fried Chicken Wrap

Beer Battered Fish n Chips

Beer Battered Fish n Chips

Cajun Chicken Burger

Cajun Chicken Gourmet Burger

For dessert I had Apple and Rhubarb Crumble, a ginger and oat crumble topping served with plum ice cream. Sandip had Honey and Lemon Crème Brulee with vanilla bean ice cream and pistachio biscotti. Yana had the Castaways’ Chocolate Brownie served with Manuka honey ice cream & spiced berry compote.

To drink I had Clifftop Passion, a cocktail made with 42 Below passionfruit vodka, passionfruit pulp, Cointreau, apple juice, lime and soda. Sandip and Yana had each a mocktail – a Blushing Sunset and Kiwi Mango Delight.

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Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Honey and Lemon Crème Brulee

Honey and Lemon Crème Brulee

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Castaways’ Chocolate Brownie

While we were only there for lunch and to admire the views, the resort also has the Bersanti Day Spa for pampering and they offer adventure activities including archery, blokarting, clay target shooting, kayaking, volleyball, and 4 wheel drive tours.

Accommodation wise they have ocean front studios, chalets and glam camping options.

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Karioitahi Beach

Karioitahi Beach

Manukau Heads Lighthouse

The Manukau Heads Lighthouse is located on the Awhitu Peninsula on the south side of the Manukau Heads.

Manukau Heads Lighthouse

The lighthouse was originally built in 1874. It was demolished in 1986 and was rebuilt using the original plans and some materials from the original building, including the original 2.5 tonne dome. The restored lighthouse reopened in 2006 on its current location near to the Manukau Heads Signal Station platform.

It is approximately 45 minutes drive from Waiuku. It is well signposted from Waiuku.

Manukau Heads Lighthouse

Manukau Heads Lighthouse

The gates are open daily from 9am to 5pm. Entry is free but there is a donation box inside the lighthouse to assist with maintenance costs. Also when I visited there were souvenir tea-towels on sale for $15.

From the carpark it is short walk up around 120 steps to the lighthouse and a viewing platform. There are toilet facilities by the carpark.

The lighthouse tower is 240 metres above sea level. It offers views of the Waitakeres, Whatipu, Onehunga, Auckland city. On a clear day it is possible to see Mount Taranaki to the southwest.

It also overlooks the spot where 190 lives were tragically lost when the HMS Orpheus run aground on the Manukau bar in 1863.

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Views from Manukau Heads Lighthouse balcony

Papakura Museum

Papakura Museum is a community run museum in the South Auckland suburb of Papakura.

Papakura Museum

Papakura Museum

The Museum is housed in the Museum and Library Building, which also houses Sir Edmund Hilary Library, a café and an educational services store. Pedestrian access is at 209 Great South Road. There is an undercover parking building at 28 East Street (street behind the museum).

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Sculptures outside Papakura Museum

Sculpture art outside Papakura Museum

The museum is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4:30pm with a late night on Wednesday (open till 6pm). It is open Saturday 10am to 3pm. The museum is closed Sundays and public holidays.

Entry is free by donations are appreciated.

They currently have an exhibition As We Saw It: Letters to and from the Front, WWI, which features a collection of letters, diaries, postcards and official war documents from the First World War. The exhibition also includes photographs, personal memorabilia, and war uniforms.

The remainder of the museum explores Papakura’s local history including the town’s involvement in Māori Land Wars, World Wars, industry and local business.

Lieutenant C V Grant Jacket, WW I

Lieutenant C V Grant Jacket, WW I

WWI Medals

WWI Medals

Letter from 14-year-old Papakura Central School girl to Sergeant Lionel Lloyd James Grice

Letter from 14-year-old Papakura Central School girl to Sergeant Lionel Lloyd James Grice