Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill
This adventure would give us our first very first encounter with New Zealand sheep and it inspired us so much we decided we wanted to try and be sheep ourselves by climbing up one of the steep green hills up to the memorial rather then take the paved path. More on that shortly. Lets talk about how we got here. One of our favorite ways to find things to do in a new city is by talking to the locals and this was one place we were told to visit by several kiwis while adventuring. Including a nice lady we meet on the bus who gave us several tips and suggestions on places to go as well as our awesome Airbnb host. So we knew this was a place we needed to check out.
So what is it? It is a 597 ft tall volcanic peak in Auckland that also has two parks – One Tree Hill and Cornwall Park which together form a total of 540 acres of public green space. It has lots of beautiful mature trees, animals, flowers, amazing 360 views from the top of the summit, as well as a historic cottage, a cafe, and an ice cream shop. The first thing we saw as we started our hike up towards the summit were cows not many people just lots of cows. We thought for a second that we must have picked a good day as we had read about the crowds. However, a bit further down the path we started to see the groups of people as well as a big area of land covered in cherry blossom trees. It was beautiful. There were tons of people stopped here taking photos, having picnics, and even what appeared to be professional photography sessions. We admired the trees for a while and took a couple photos then proceeded on our way to the top.
All of a sudden we heard them. YES!!! We had been waiting to see these little guys and we were not disappointed. They were EVERYWHERE!!! Big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones, red ones, blue ones, ok not red or blue but there really were so so many. It was awesome and the sounds they make are a combination of funny and cute. The first ones we saw were behind a fence so we just admired them from afar. Lots of fences here in New Zealand are electric fences so be careful! We didn’t have a Jurassic Park moment or anything like that we are just cautious when it comes to others people property. Most of them will have a sign somewhere that says electric fence but they aren’t always super visible so just be safe. As we continued on our way we noticed several different paths leading up to the summit on the hills not just the paved sidewalk leading up next to the street. Sean and Gaby being the most adventurous ones of us all decided they wanted to go up one of these dirt paths. Mireya and I decided to continue on the paved path and made it a race between us to see who could get to the top first.
Mireya and I continued on the path and soon saw more sheep. Just walking around not inside of any kind of gate or anything. There were two adults and four babies. We wanted to try and pet them but they scampered off as soon as we got close. We admired them for a minuet then continued on our way and soon reached a big hill that had sheep all over it. We had to go and check it out closer. It was like an image out of a fairy tell. It really did feel magical somehow. All these sweet little fluffy sheep just hanging out on the steep cliffs of this open area. We could now see the summit and started to wonder if Gaby and Sean had already made it to the top but we did not see them. We also started to wonder if they had the right idea by climbing up the sides of the summit rather then take the paved path. I mean this seemed like a lot more fun. We talked to a couple who was walking around and asked if they knew if it was ok to climb up the hills to the top of the summit and they said “yes you go either way the question is do you think you can do it not can you do it”. I took this as a challenge, yeah we can do this! It’s not that steep, is it? I also really wanted to beat Sean and Gaby because I’m extremely competitive. So up we went.
A short while into the walk up the hill we realized just how steep it really was. It may not look it in the photos but it was extremely steep. How in the world do sheep do this?! This is insane!!! Mireya even question me on weather I thought this was actually a good idea. Of coarse this is a good idea! We are strong, this will help us win the race, what the hell have I gotten us into. The sheep had done it so I was sure we can do it too. So we proceeded up the hill and it was tough! It felt like we were walking sideways up a building in some spots. However , it was too late to back out now. I was gonna show that guy who said “the question is can you do it”! So up up up we go. We finally made it to the top and I seriously felt like Rocky!! We then found ourselves at a gate. At first I thought oh crap! We are about to have to go back down this hill and I even thought for a moment about just rolling down it. That would probably be so much faster and easier as well as probably somewhat less dangerous then trying to walk down we would just be covered in sheep poop. Luckily as I stood there pondering this idea and picturing Mireya and I rolling down this hill and taking out sheep along the way, I see Sean and Gaby coming down a turn on the path that we could see off to the side of where the gate was. Yes…they beat us. They had already been to the top and came back down to find us because we were taking too long.
Sean and Gaby came over to the fence and just let themselves in then proceeded to tell us they won. I was happy to know that we would not have to walk back down this hill and was excited to see the top of the summit. We continued along the path less taken by going through a few fences and we could see that lots of people take these paths. I’m still not 100% certain it is allowed but we did see several people on these paths and they all said it was ok. You just have to be sure to close the gate behind you so that the animals do not get out. We saw some awesome things along the that we would have missed if we had just taken the sidewalk. Here are just a few of the things we saw; a bench that overlooked the hill we just hiked up, someone had made a sign at the bottom of one of the other hills proposing to their love, as well as amazing views of the sea and city.
We made it to the top and we were happy and proud of ourselves that we did it. However the top of the summit was not the best part of this trip for us. It was the fun we had pretending to be sheep.