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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 1, 1928)

From Auckland Southward. — The Plain of Tamaki-makau-rau

From Auckland Southward.
The Plain of Tamaki-makau-rau.

The train traveller leaving Auckland city by the Main Trunk line quickly finds himself-out in the widespread residential districts that leisurely cover practically the whole isthmus between the twin harbours of the Waitemata and the Manukau. As one leaves the city levels there are glimpses of the glistening expanse of the Waitemata Harbour, here a calm steel mirror, there a river of blue oil, great reclamation works on its southern side, green rounded hill cones and clustering white buildings along the North Shore; steam liners and white sails; and the dark blue of the outer waters, the Hauraki Gulf; the white cliffs of Motutapu and Motuihi topped by dark groves and verdurous slopes; far beyond the whaleback and ram-bow ranges of the outer wardens, islands and shadows of islands. Old Rangitoto—that perfectly circular mountain island of lava—dominates all; its blue-peaked crater rim cuts the sky beyond the soft-green foreland of the North Head.

In the foreground are the pretty homes and gardens of the suburban dwellers, and the gentle undulations of the Remuera and Orakei slopes, terminating in pohutukawa-fringed headlands. Those soft slants of Ohinerau, the place of a Hundred Maidens, going down in delectable lines from Remuera's little mountain—called Mount Hobson after New Zealand's first Governor—are a perfect picture of peace, wealth, and beauty to-day, with the homes of modern comfort and luxury, shaded by plenteous tree-groves and with gardens of subtropic blaze and loveliness. It is curious to learn, as one does from the old records, that all these Remuera and Ohinerau slopes where Auckland's wealthiest homes now stand were bought from the Maori chiefs of the Ngati-Whatun tribe some eighty years ago for £200.

Commanding all this garden and orchard land is Remuera Mount, one of the smaller volcanic cones of the Auckland plains; we see it on our left just after we pass the busy railway station and workshops at Newmarket. It was the view from this little mountain top that Sir John Logan Campbell, the “Father of Auckland,”, found so entrancing in 1840, as he gazed over this all but unpeopled isthmus, with its wonderfully dovetailed sea and land, that he described it as the most beautiful panorama in the wide world, and Auckland's site as a second Corinth.

A little further on, as we pass Ellerslie, with its splendid racecourse, its flower gardens and lawns, we see on our right the noble hill park of Maunga-kiekie which is for ever associated with Logan Campbell's name. It is variously called, besides its Maori name (which means “mountain of the climbing plant,” Astelia Banksii), One-tree Hill and Campbell Park. The conical hill that crowns this great recreation ground of 400 acres, Auckland's grandest park endowment, is the last resting-place of the pioneer citizen who gave it to the people, and who was buried on its summit in 1912. A statue of the fine old man stands at the entrance to the park, but the green mountain itself is his greatest and all-sufficing monument.

Materialism—the quest of unromantic roadmetal—has disfigured some of the old volcanic comes of the isthmus. Fortunately, Maunga-kiekie, with its three terraced craters and its trenched and pitted pinnacle that was once a great Maori citadel, has escaped the spoilers, but most of the other graceful little mountains, including Mount Eden, have suffered from the roadmakers’ quarrying works.