In a city with no shortage of beaches it might seem a little odd to spend $28m on building a new one. This one was promised nearly 50 years ago though when the motorway was built in 1977 cutting Onehunga off from the seafront. The result is the biggest land reclamation for purely recreational purposes in the Southern Hemisphere.
Opened in mid November 2015 Taumanu Reserve is a unique addition to Auckland’s waterfront, opening up the Manukau Harbour in a way that would have been unimaginable twenty years. It’s still not the safest place for a swim, there’s a sewage outlet pipe close to one end, but the water quality is steadily improving. There’s no other beaches though with giant pylons striding through the waters, with a motorway directly behind them, or as central to watch a huge variety of species of birds. It’s grungy and a bit different. I like it.
It’s easy to get to via the Queenstown Road offramp, turning left and right onto Seacliffe Road which leads to Orpheus Drive, where there are plenty of car parks. The first beach area is pure rocks, as the area used to be. Pylon Park might have been a more appropriate name but to me they add character and visual interest.
Like the beaches at Mission Bay and St. Heliers the sand has been brought in, and hopefully will be kept in place by the rock groins built at the end of each of the newly created bays. There are two sandy beaches, a boat ramp and an area at the eastern end designed to attract birds, both the locals and those migrating.
Steps from here pass an impressive wooden sculpture, beside the new wood clad pedestrian bridge, a striking feature connecting the new reserve with Onehunga Bay Reserve (now called Te Tauranga), a popular dog walking spot, and a bit of a gem only really known to locals.
Return over the motorway via the Queenstown Road pedestrian footbridge to finish the 45 minute loop.