17 February 2014

Going For A Walk: Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island {Or Make Sure Your Dinghy Doesn't Get Stolen}

Signs showing which way you go to get to Schoolhouse Bay (where we started our walk from) and which way to go to get to Mansion House Bay (our destination).
When we were out at Kawau Island in January, we went for a walk in the Department of Conservation reserve. Much of the island is private land, but about ten percent is public land with the largest reserve being at Mansion House Bay. The Mansion House is one of those iconic Kiwi sites and you’ll often see pictures of the bay in various publications. Sir George Grey bought Kawau Island in the 1800s and turned Mansion House into his holiday home. At the time, he stocked the island with exotic animals like wallabies and peacocks and established nice gardens around the house. The island was also the site of New Zealand’s earliest mining ventures and you can see remains of the former copper mines on the island. (If you’re interested in learning more rivalry over copper mining at the time, you can check out this post on the Kaitu Kala islands.)

Map of the Department of Conservation trails in the Mansion House reserve. We walked from the public wharf in Schoolhouse Bay along Schoolhouse Bay road up to the viewpoint of the old coppermine. We then headed down Lady’s Bay Track and then picked up Momona Point Track. Unfortunately, the track was closed towards the end due to erosion so we couldn’t get out to the point. (Might have been helpful if they signposted the closure a bit earlier on the track – just a thought.) So we backtracked and headed down the hill to Mansion House. On the way back to Schoolhouse Bay, we took the Redwood Track back up to Schoolhouse Bay road.

We tied our dinghy up at the public wharf at Schoolhouse Bay. The ferry comes into this wharf, so there is a shelter where you can wait. If you want to do the same walk, make sure you tie up at the public wharf. There are a couple of other private wharves in the bay and I don’t think they’re too happy when cruisers use their wharves.

We saw this sign on the notice bard at Mansion House and again at the shelter at the public wharf in Schoolhouse Bay. It warns you that your dinghy or kayak might go “missing”. We were glad to find that ours was still tied up where we left it. My favorite part of the warning, “It has come to Police attention that there may be a common practice to store found property at the finders address, not inform the Police and wait for the owner to collect their property. This is not acceptable and Police would like to advise people that it is a Criminal Offense to keep found property and not report it to the Police.” Such a politely worded way of telling people to stop stealing stuff.

A pretty track takes you into the Mansion House Bay reserve.

The gardens around Mansion House are really pretty. It is a pleasant place to stroll through and admire the flowers.

We stopped and had a picnic lunch on one of the benches. The bench was dedicated to a former worker at Mansion House and resident of Schoolhouse Bay.

After our lunch, we headed back to Schoolhouse Bay via the Redwood Track. At the point, there are nice views back to Mansion House Bay.

You take the track down to Two House Bay before heading back up the hill over to Schoolhouse Bay. As you can imagine, there are two houses in the bay.

The Redwood Track part of our walk was our favorite. We like the “jungle” look of the plants interspersed among the redwood trees.

Another “jungle” scene from the Redwood Track.

Along the way, you can see ruins of old dairy buildings. It just looks like a hole and bricks to me. Since Scott is an archaeologist, he finds it a bit more fascinating than me.

And back where we started, the Schoolhouse Bay wharf and our dinghy (which was fortunately still there).

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