Fairhaven Walk

The Fairhaven Walk along the Weiti river would be better described as a “bush bash”, so it probably wasn’t the best choice of adventures on a damp morning.

A check of the rain radar after breakfast convinced us that we had a two or three hours of fine weather ahead of us, so we drove up to Whangaparoa and parked near the end of Wade River Rd. I have noticed the Fairhaven Walk marked on several maps, and my fantasy was that we would be strolling along a mettled track beside the river.

The first hint that I was about to be disappointed was when a couple of runners who had passed us while we locked the car turned around and headed back the way we had come. Our first look at the narrow, muddy trail made it clear why, but we were committed by now and set off down it. I had noticed some very healthy Pururi trees, and some orange tape tied in a bush revealed that some pest control in the area is being undertaken by the local Forest and Bird group.

We pushed past gorse and wild ginger, slithered up and down muddy banks, and crossed a stream on a decidedly non-OSH approved bridge. We poked our noses into a rather derelict boat shed, empty apart from a couple of car seats and a bag of empty beer bottles. I was a bit doubtful about the floor’s ability to support the two of us above the high tide, but we made it back to dry land safely.

A set of steps led up the hill, so we followed them up to a house where the track turned into a narrow drive, too small for a car. When it came out onto the road we met a couple of young builders who were having a rest from carrying timber down the steep slope. We asked them if it was a public access and they said they thought it was, but that it was disputed by the property owner. We went back down and continued along the river.

The path didn’t get any better – if there has been any track maintenance it was many decades ago. Eventually we came to a substantial concrete jetty with a couple fishing off it. They had a nice haul of kahawai for their dinner. They told us that the properties along here originally had access only from the river, which explains the jetty in the middle of nowhere.

At home, I did a bit of research and found that the subdivision dates back to 1927, but that the then Rodney District Council would not issue building permits without road access. In 1980 the property owners formed an association, and negotiated with the council to build a road across reserve land up the hill, as the route along the river was not practical. The initial estimate was that the road would cost around $400k – $500k, but by the time it was finished in 2006, delays and engineering difficulties had pushed the cost to $2.3 million. The council quite rightly refused to impose this cost on other ratepayers, so each property now has to pay $10,450 per year for 25 years.

We could have continued on a bit further, but the sky was starting to turn dark with clouds so we wisely decided to turn back. We had time to stop and admire some beautiful golden Kowhai flowers, and to take a couple of photos on the wharf. The green paddocks in the background behind Felicity (last photo) are the northern end of Long Bay park.

We got back to the car just in the nick of time, because the rain started bucketing down, and we drove home with the lights on and the wipers on full-speed.

6 thoughts on “Fairhaven Walk”

  1. Hi there, I attempted this walk with my 7year old daughter yesterday and found it impossible to get very far as large clumps of gorse are blocking the track now. What a shame! This could be a great walk with a bit of track maintenance. Not sure who is responsible for this? I found your blog when I googled fairhaven walk.

  2. Yes it is a shame that this track isn’t maintained. I presume it is the responsibility of Auckland City Council, but often tracks like this only get attention when community groups get involved.

  3. Unfortunately, Mr Potter, the story of Fairhaven Walk’s Association was a dark day in our local history where local groups and large land owners conspired with the Territorial Council of the day to refuse to allow any new home building on Fairhaven Walk.

    That the road cost ballooned out to $2,900,000 including GST for an accessway for just 22 families is a travesty of NZ justice and at the same time a wake up call as to just how power is so totally abused in an otherwise elected organisation.

    The Fairhaven Walk Association, a community group of mums and dads and grandparents, was formed in 1998 (not 1980), and whose aim was to provide an accessway so that the Association could build its houses for their families, which, they were legally entitled to do.

    All previous applications by members, going back to 1984, had been refused by Bill Sharplin of the Rodney District Council.

    However, this was not the case with Scott and Wade River Roads. Despite these roads originating from the same 1927 subdivision as the Fairhaven Walk Association’s, Scott and Wade Roads were not only formed and built for free by Rodney District Council but were allowed building permits as of right.

    On the other hand, the Fairhaven Walk Association could not build their houses on properties owned and rated since 1954 under the same Rodney District Council, the same 1927 subdivision and immediately adjacent to the same Scott and Wade River Roads.

    However, a deal was struck for an access to be built where each of the Association’s members additionally had all their riparian rights stripped away in exchange for Rodney District Council’s acting on their behalf in a special Deed of Agreement. This Deed signed and dated by all the parties, reqjuired Council to facilitate the design and construction of the road, provided, all members built a road from Scott road and not from Fairhaven and gave up all frontages on the Weiti River.

    This solution allowed the riparian rights along the foreshore to be taken over by the Department of Conservation; the Weiti Boat Club would expand its area without needing a though road. It meat the Stillwater Ratepayer’s and Resident’s Association plus Whangaparaoa Ratepayer’s and Resident’s Association and those with large council interests along Scott Road had all their objections set into the Agreement to any building whatsoever such that their objections would increase to such an extent before, during and after the construction, that the access way set at $496,000 by contractor’s award and finally completed in 2008 would increase directly to much larger figure. The central figures in all of this? 4x Council Mayors and the councillors, a commissioner, 5 recource consents, 22 building consents. and a Council “facilitator”.

    85% of houses are still un-built. The Fairhaven Association is still in existence and more of the Association are still waiting for houses than are not.

    It has been very bitter 15 years. Clearing pampas, ginger and gorse along the Fairhaven Walk is how the Association Started too.

  4. No John, it is not the Department of Conservation’s responsibility to manage the new reserve we have created as DOC are the land owners as say with NZLT own motorways. However, it is managed by Rodney District Council or rather, as by Royal Commission combining all of Auckland under the one management roof, by Auckland City.
    We started clearing pampas and maintaining the Fairhaven Walk walkway exactly because of its NZ shore environment. At least that is why we came to the Fairhaven Walk and one of the aims was in effect have lift the whole road 45 metres above mean high spring sea level onto an old bullock track which we owned by DOC. John Morton who wrote the NZ Sea Shore was accommodated in the black cottage along from us and now that cottage has a road directly to it up the top from Scott Road. It is this bullock track which we swapped out Fairhaven Walk Access for.

    I am sorry about the pampas and other weeds presently as we did not want to put the road right along the foreshore and create runoff. Our Fairhaven Walk Association members were very clear about that and when we asked for help to move the road not only the Council but all the locals such as Whangaparaoa Ratepayer and Residents Association and the Stillwater Ratepayer and Residents Association along with the Rodney City Council CEO all objected to it. Climate change and global warming if not invented at that stage ie lifting the road up and protecting the foreshore, was pretty much what we were doing back in 1995. So the Fairhaven Walk Association had to relocate the public road themselves – at horrific cost – for which many of us struggled.
    The biggest struggle was that many of us did not have any houses to live in except sheds and old cottages made from packing cases as we were not allowed to get a building consent for constructing our buildings on our properties along the Walk and it seems things have not changed with NZ Council’s and NZ Government’s being powerless to build affordable warm and safe houses – ever.

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