This weekend was the first weekend of the school holidays so I took the kids camping. We took the 9:15am ferry to Rangitoto Island and got off at Islington Bay right near the bridge to Motutapu Island. We tramped with our gear along the Motutapu Walkway for two hours, including stops, to get to the campground at Home Bay on the east side of Motutapu, mostly through farmland. We spent two nights camped at Home Bay and then yesterday tramped back to Islington Bay along the road (taking about an hour) to catch the morning ferry back to the city.
The weather was good on Saturday and great on Sunday. It was rainy on Monday but that was fun in its own way --- I like being out in the rain if there's a good reason to be. On Sunday a ferry pulled into Home Bay with some day-trippers --- a group doing a walk as part of the Auckland Heritage Festival, and some volunteers doing weed control. The latter were part of a huge ongoing project to reforest a third of Motutapu. The island (along with Rangitoto) has been cleared of predators and colonies of rare birds --- including takahe and shore plovers --- have been transplanted to the island. Native fish and freshwater crayfish are also being reintroduced to the streams.
Like some other sites around the Hauraki Gulf, Motutapu has some old WW2 fortifications --- a number of pillboxes and gun emplacements. These have some tunnels that are fun to explore with a torch, and of course at the surface they have excellent views over the outer Gulf.
On Sunday we did a decent-sized walk from Home Bay up to the gun emplacements and then to Billy Goat Point at the northern tip of the island. Except we didn't quite reach the point, since the path led through a large paddock with cows. As we walked along the path, every cow that saw us started following us. After a while we all got a bit nervous and were wondering how we'd get back through the herd of about fifty cows that had gathered --- assuming they didn't decide to cause problems for us on their own! The kids were scared and I was rather nervous myself, but everyone did well and didn't panic. We turned back and just walked slowly in the direction we wanted to go. The herd surrounded us and moved with us and we didn't have any problems, but it was a relief to get over the stile to put a fence between us and the cattle. We completed our walk through Sandy Bay, Administration Bay, the Motutapu Outdoor Education Centre camp, and the road back across the island to Home Bay.
There wasn't a lot to do at the campsite but the kids had fun just being kids --- playing on the swing, fossicking on the beach, skipping stones on the water, smashing rocks, reading books, playing tag, that sort of thing. The campsite is huge and there were only three tents on it the whole time we were there. Overall it was a great weekend away, highly recommended.