Located just south of Ōrere Point, beside the Firth of Thames, Tapapakanga takes you back to the world of the early settlers with its isolated beachfront homestead and pohutukawa-fringed coast.
As well as its rich Maori and European history this beautiful park offers rolling farmland, a winding stream and expansive coastal view, all within easy reach of Auckland.
The beach is ideal for swimming. Other recreational activities at Tapapakanga include picnics, barbecues, camping, fishing, kayaking, family walks and mountain biking.
Tapapakanga – a Puku takes its name from a time when the kumara propagation bed belonging to a local chief, Puku, failed.
For many centuries Tāpapakanga was an important dwelling place for Marutūahu iwi, especially Ngāti Pāoa and Ngāti Whanaunga.
In those days Tāpapakanga supported several large kāinga (villages) each with extensive kūmara and taro cultivation.
Archaeological sites on the park, mainly concentrated around the Tāpapakanga Stream and along the coastal strip, include three Māori pā, storage pits (rua), terraces(tūāpapa), shell maindens (ahu ota ota) and ovens (umu) as well as stone heaps indicating extensive riverside gardens.
The Māori relationship to this land is commemorated by two pou whenua (carved posts) at the park entrance. An interesting feature of these carvings is the representation of an European, James Ashby, depicted carrying an axe.
Ashby settled on the land in 1899 and enjoyed a lifelong friendship with the local chief Tukumana Te Taniwha. James and his wife Rebecca built the existing homestead beside the beach in 1900. They raised 14 children on the property, which remained a family ownership until 1990.
The Auckland Regional Council purchased the last block of land in 1990 and officially opened the park in 1995.
The most common coastal birds are black (tōrea pango) and South Island (tōrea) pied oystercatchers, black shags (kawau), pied (kāruhiruhi) and little (kawau paka) shags, white-faced herons, black-backed and red-billed gulls (tarapunga) and kingfishers (kōtare).
Further inland look for paradise and mallard ducks (pūtangitangi), pūkeko, pheasants, kererū (wood pidgeon), fantails (piwaiwaka), grey warblers (riroriro) and tūi. Campers will hear the mellow sound of the morepork (rūrū) at night.
Large spreading pōhutukawa are a highlight of this park’s coastline. Inland, much of the park is pasture but many of the steeper slopers have been fenced from stock and mānuka and kānuka planted to act as a nursery crop for other native trees as part of a restoration programme for the park.
The best example of remnant native forest on the park is at the northwestern end, where you will discover pūriri, taraire, rewarewa, māhoe, tawa and tarata.
Tanguru (Olearia albida), a rare tree daisy up to five metres tall, grows along this part of the coast. Its sweet scented flower heads appear around autumn.
Source: Auckland Regional Council