Vancouver Aquabus

The Aquabus is a ferry service that provides commuter and sightseeing services along False Creek in Vancouver.

IMG_2125

False Creek is a small inlet that separates downtown Vancouver from the rest of the city. The rainbow coloured ferries stop at eight docks along False Creek:

  1. Hornby Street
  2. Granville Island
  3. David Lam Park
  4. Stamps Landing
  5. Spyglass Place
  6. Yaletown
  7. Plaza of Nations
  8. The Village

Aquabus Map

Aquabus, which started in 1986, is one of two ferry companies offering services along False Creek. The other is False Creek Ferries.

Regular fares are priced between $3.50 and $5.50. A day pass is $15 for adults and $13 for children and seniors. There are also passes for regular commuters.

They also offer a 25 minute mini sightseeing cruise, which costs $8 for adults and $4 for children and seniors.

The service runs roughly from 7am to 10:30pm (8:30pm in winter).

IMG_2120

20604177_10156513194530329_687291999733092675_n

IMG_2128

IMG_2127

Birkenhead

Birkenhead is a suburb of Auckland, located on the north shore of the Waitemata Harbour.

To travel to Birkenhead, I took the 9:10am service, which is the first weekend morning service departing Downtown. The ferry service is operated by Fullers and departs from Pier 1. Adults are $5.50 one way, $10.10 return. Child $3.30 one way, $5.20 return. Discount fares are available for AT Hop cardholders.

Fullers' ferry boarding at Pier 1, Downtown Ferry Terminal

Fullers’ ferry boarding at Pier 1, Downtown Ferry Terminal

It is approximately a 15 minute ferry ride to Birkenhead Wharf via Bayswater and Northcote Point.

The ferry travels underneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge to reach Northcote Point and Birkenhead. The Harbour Bridge is 1,020 metres long, rising 43.27 metres above high water level. I had never travelled under the harbour bridge before, which was one of the reasons for choosing ferry travel.

The ferry travels underneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge

The ferry travels underneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge

The ferry docks at Birkenhead Wharf at the bottom of Hinemoa Street. The original entry point to Birkenhead Village was via ferry, making Hinemoa Street one of the oldest streets in Birkenhead. It is just under a 2km walk past many historic buildings from the Wharf to Birkenhead Village.

Birkenhead Wharf

Birkenhead Wharf

A few notable points on this heritage walk:

On the corner of Hinemoa St and Rugby St stands the Marinovic Building (94 – 98 Hinemoa St). This two storey masonry building is in Edwardian style, and was constructed in 1912. The old Hellaby butcher’s occupied this site until 1911 when it moved to the rear of the building. The old butcher’s shop is now Ravenhill café. I tried the raspberry and frangipani slab ($4.50) from their cabinet.

Ravenhill cafe, a former butchery. Building constructed 1912

Ravenhill cafe, a former butchery. Building constructed 1912

At 128-130 Hinemoa St is Gumdiggers Restaurant, which is open for dinner from 6:30pm Tuesday to Saturday. The building that was built in 1910 was originally a drapers shop.

Gumdiggers Restaurant, originally a drapers shop. Building built 1910

Gumdiggers Restaurant, originally a drapers shop. Built 1910

Next to each other at 243 and 245 Hinemoa St are the Royal Thai Restaurant and Bambina (a baby clothing and toy store).  243 Hinemoa Street was the Samuel Roberts General Store established in 1910 and 245 Hinemoa St was Henry Hawkins Grocer established in 1927.

At Highbury Corner stands the Oborn Buildings, which was originally named Payne’s Building, and was constructed between 1927 and 1928 for local businessman and council member W. H. Payne.

Oborn Building, formerly Payne Buildings, built 1927-8

Oborn Building, formerly Payne Buildings, built 1927-8

On the corner of Hinemoa Street and Rawene Road is Nell Fisher Reserve.  Situated in the reserve is the Birkenhead War Memorial monument, which was unveiled in 1927 to remember the soldiers killed in WWI.

Birkenhead War Memorial, Nell Fisher Reserve

Birkenhead War Memorial, Nell Fisher Reserve

Located behind the War Memorial is the Birkenhead Public Library. It is worth going up to the mezzanine floor for a moments rest and to admire the views.

Views of Auckland city from mezzanine floor, Birkenhead Public Library

Views of Auckland city from mezzanine floor, Birkenhead Public Library

It is here that the Sugar Workers Walk begins. Click here to download a map.

After visiting the library and Nell Fisher Reserve make your way along Rawene Road. There are several residential houses here with historical significance. At number 51 is the former home of Bert Stanley, who was the mayor of Birkenhead from 1968-77.

0027

51 Rawene Rd. Former home of Bert Stanley, Birkenhead mayor, 1968-77

There are several sugar workers cottages on Rawene Road. 35 cottages were built in the 1880s in an area at the bottom of Colonial Road. In 1905 these cottages were sold for 5 pounds each and relocated to sunnier sites. 44 Rawene Road is an example of one of these original cottages.

44 Rawene Road, early sugar workers cottage

44 Rawene Rd, early sugar workers cottage

At the end of Rawene Road is an entrance to Chelsea Estate Heritage Park. Follow the track down and where the track forks turn to the right and follow the track across the dam to the Sugar Refinery grounds.

This pink and blue Victorian factory was built from 1883-84 using one million handmade bricks made from clay from the surrounding hills.

Chelsea Sugar Refinery

Chelsea Sugar Refinery

Take a moment to watch the ducks frolic in the large duck pond before crossing the bridge and heading up the hill to four historic Worker’s cottages. These two storied brick cottages were constructed in 1910 and are now private residences.

Four historic Workers' cottages. Constructed 1910

Four historic Workers’ cottages. Constructed 1910

In the large grassy area stands the ‘Ships Grab’ sculpture, which was donated by New Zealand Sugar Company when it sold 37 hectares of its property to the Council in 2008. This property became the Chelsea Estate Heritage Park.

'Ships Grab' sculpture

‘Ships Grab’ sculpture

This area is where the original 35 cottages were located. Opposite the Ships Grab sculpture is a walking track that leads up to Huka Road. Huka is the Māori word for sugar. Alternatively you can walk up past the four historic Worker’s cottages and walk up Colonial Road, just watch out for the sugar trucks.

If you walk up Huka Road, like Rawene Road, there are many cottages of historical significance to the sugar refinery. Number 44 is two sugar workers cottages, which have been joined together. Numbers 22 and 25 are Victorian bay villas and numbers 29 and 33 are Edwardian style houses. These five properties are more examples of the homes that sugar factory workers would have lived in.

45 Huka Road, two sugar workers cottages joined together

45 Huka Road, two sugar workers cottages joined together

Both Huka Road and Colonial Road come out at Mokoia Road. Turn right and walk along Mokoia. There are many cafés located along this strip. At 14-24 Mokoia Road is Highbury Buildings. This retail building was constructed in 1934.

Next I walked back down Hinemoa St and entered Le Roys bush walk. I walked this native bush walk through kauri, nikau palms, totara, past mangroves and out to Little Shoal Bay for more views of the city. I returned from Little Shoal Bay to the exit on Onewa Road (between 210 and 12 Onewa Road).

0049

Le Roys bush walk

Le Roys Bush walk

Little Shoal Bay

Little Shoal Bay

At the corner of Birkenhead Ave and Onewa Road is Zion Hill Church. It was first church to be built in Birkenhead in 1880. This church was replaced by a new church building around 1886.

Birkenhead Transport has bus services from Onewa Road into and from the city. There are also over 900 free carparks located throughout Birkenhead Village so it is an easy place to visit.

Devonport

D0002

Ferry to Devonport

Earlier this week a friend from Los Angeles and her partner were visiting New Zealand. I had a day off on Thursday, so rather than just catch up for coffee and lunch somewhere in the city I suggested going to Devonport, a harbourside suburb on the North Shore.

It is only a 12 minute ride across the harbour.  Fullers offer services that run every half hour from Downtown Ferry Terminal.

1981844_10151911640420872_392583695_n

Explore the tunnels at North Head Historic Reserve

After arriving in Devonport we walked up to North Head Historic Reserve. North Head is an easy 20 minute walk from Devonport ferry terminal. Walk along King Edward Parade past the Devonport Yacht Club. Just before the Navy Museum make a slight left at Cheltenham Road and take the second street on the right, Takarunga Road. The entrance is at the end of the road. Vehicle gates shut at 8pm and pedestrian gates close at 10pm.

D0001

Disappearing gun, North Head

North Head is one of two remaining volcanic cones that make up Devonport’s landscape. It was a fortified Maori pa site before European colonization. Military tunnels and underground storerooms were built here and still remain today and are open to the public to explore. You will need a torch or the light from your cellphone to properly explore these. North Head also features one of the last remaining disappearing guns in the world. There are two theatres, the Stone Kitchen Theatre and the Fire Command Post Theatre, which play short documentaries about the landscape and its history, which are well worth the watch.

1975269_10151911641065872_791917591_n

Torpedo Bay Navy Museum

Next we stopped at Torpedo Bay Navy Museum (64 King Edward Parade). It is a small museum with exhibits about The Royal New Zealand Navy, naval history, and the Navy’s connection with Devonport. Entry is free and museum is open 10am to 5pm, 7 days a week.

We walked back into Devonport Village and walked up Victoria Road. We stopped for lunch at the Devonport Stone Oven Bakery and Café (5 Clarence Street). A little bit of history the café is housed in the building that was originally the Telephone Exchange.

0003

Mount Victoria

After lunch we walked up to Mount Victoria (access from Kerr Road). Like North Head this is an easy walk and is only 15 minutes from the ferry.  Mount Victoria is 87 metres (283 feet) above sea level and like North Head provides picturesque views of Rangitoto Island and Auckland City.

1488239_10151911642420872_733358324_n

Posing for pictures outside Devonport Naval Base

Before heading back to catch the ferry we walked along the waterfront to the Devonport Naval Base. There is no public access pass the gate.

Devonport has an old English seaside village vibe to it and is a perfect outing.

Coromandel Town

C0001

Passengers check in at 360 Discovery Cruises ticket kiosk, Quay Street

This weekend I decided to get out of Auckland and visit the small township of Coromandel.

I took the Ferry from Auckland to Coromandel with 360 Discovery Cruises. The adult fare is $69 for same day return and $92 for open return. There are child, senior, family and 10 trip pass options available. The ferry departs from Pier 4, Quay Street. They request that you check in at least 30 minutes prior to departure and I recommend you check in early and are waiting near the boat for boarding if you wish to stake out a good spot on the boat.

The ferry departed at 8:45 am and took approximately 2 hours. After 50 minutes the ferry picked up and dropped off passengers at Orapiu Wharf (Waiheke Island). We made an unscheduled stop at a private wharf for two passengers and their dog before dropping off passengers exploring Rotorua Island. Once we passed Rotorua Island the water was a bit choppy so I was glad I had taken travel sickness tablets.

C0002

Approaching Hannaford’s Wharf, Coromandel

The low water level at Coromandel Wharf means the ferry is unable to dock there, so a complimentary shuttle bus meets the ferry at Hannaford’s Wharf to transport passengers the 20 minute drive into Coromandel Town.

This shuttle service is provided by Coromandel Adventures. They provide tours and transport around the Coromandel region. Coromandel town is a perfect gateway to explore the Coromandel Peninsula. If you do not have a car, you are very limited to what you can do, so the service provided by Sarni and the crew at Coromandel Adventures is an excellent way of getting you to all the attractions around Coromandel.

I took the Coromandel beach explorer shuttle service. I was booked on the Northern Escape sunset tour but the driver was sick so I opted to this instead. Our driver dropped us at Whangapoua Store (376 Tangiora Ave, Whangapoua Beach). After grabbing an ice cream I walked along the beach to William Mangakahia Lagoon Reserve, which is at the northern end of Whangapoua Beach. From here there is access to New Chums Beach, a beautiful undeveloped beach that has been featured in Lonely Planet, National Geographic and was ranked in the top 20 undeveloped beaches in the world according to The Observer.

C0004

New Chums Beach

It is a 30 minute walk. It is best to cross at low tide, as you have to cross a stream. Good walking shoes are needed to cross the rocky shoreline but I did see hardened surfers doing it barefoot. The track is unmaintained and narrow at points. There is a handy rope at one point to get you up the steep bit of the track.  It is a beautiful beach but as the locals point out as more people know about it, it looses the magic of being a secret hidden beach.

Coromandel Adventures picked us up at 3pm and Sarni provided commentary on the landscape including Castle Rock that looks like a ‘sleeping giant’ from this side. Sarni dropped me off at my accommodation YHA Tidewater Tourist Park. It has all the charm you would expect from a small town holiday park. Hosts Tony and Linda are friendly and keep the facilities clean and well maintained.

C0005

View from Pa site, Kauri Block walk

I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon exploring Coromandel town by foot. Firstly I walked the Kauri Block track, which is an area that has been replanted with native kauri trees. To get to this track head through town along Wharf Road, approximately 50 metres pass the bright orange G.A.S station is the walkway, clearly signposted . It is a 15 minute uphill walk to an old Pa site, which provides stunning 360 degree views over Coromandel Town and the harbour. From the Pa site it is a 30 minute walk down to an exit on Harbour View Road or one can return to Wharf Road.

I stopped for a fish burger combo at Coromandel Takeaways (124 Wharf Road) before walking in the other direction past Coromandel Service Centre Memorial, School of Mines Museum (open 1pm to 4pm) and the old Hospital. There is a short walk, the Taumatawahine Walk, which is a 15 minute bush walk that begins on Rings Road just after Frederick Street and comes out on Main Street and joins back up with Rings Road.

C0006

Waitati Gardens

On Sunday morning I visited Waitati Gardens (485 Buffallo Road), a private garden that is open September through to May from dawn till dusk. $7 admission is requested to be left in the donation box at the top of the drive. After exploring the gardens I enjoyed a picnic breakfast in the garden.

Opposite the driveway to Waitati Gardens is Coromandel Gold Stamper Battery (410 Buffalo Road). Ashley provides tours of this fully operational historic gold processing plant at 10am, 11am, 12noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Adults are $10 and children are $5. As I was the only one there they don’t start up the Stamper Battery for just one but Ashley gave me a free tour of the building. He was very informative and passionate about the history and area. If you get a chance to see and hear the old Stamper Battery working let me know in the comments what it was like. You can also pan for your own gold and at the back of the property there are steps up to a lookout for another fantastic view of Coromandel Town.

C0007

The Waterworks

I returned to the carpark behind Samuel James Reserve where Sarni picked me up and took a group of us to The Waterworks (471 The 309 Road). They describe themselves as “New Zealand’s quirkiest theme park”.  It is an interactive playground featuring whimsical gadgets designing with a bit of kiwi ingenuity that are all powered by water, hence the name.

C0008

Driving Creek Railway and Pottery

After an hour exploring the park Sarni picked me up and I joined a group taking the 2pm one hour return train ride through a replanted native forest at Driving Creek Railway and Potteries (380 Driving Creek Road) The best part for me was when the train stopped at the Eyefull Tower, and passengers climbed to the top of the building, for amazing views.

At the end of the day Coromandel Adventures shuttles all ferry passengers back to Hannaford’s Wharf for a 4:30pm departure. It was very smooth sailing going back and after a wonderful weekend I was back in Auckland a little after six thirty.