Cradled by the Puhoi and Waiwera Rivers, Wenderholm was the first Auckland regional park and remains one of the most beautiful.
Its forested headland, rich in native birdlife is one of Auckland's finest examples. The historic Couldrey House sits in beautiful serene grounds, and a carved pouwhenua nearby welcomes visitors to Wenderholm.
What to do: Wenderholm is a family friendly beach with a grassy picnic area and the shade of Pohutukawa trees. There are ample sheltered grounds for picnics and games and the fine swimming beach draws the summer crowds.
How to get there: The park entrance is on State Highway 1 just north of Waiwera.
What to expect: The coastal forest on the Maungatauhoro ("mountain with the eroding cliffs") headland is a haven for native birds thanks to intensive pest control and a large-scale restoration of parts of the forest. Native pigeon (kereru) and tui abound at Wenderholm, feeding on the fruit of the forest.
See the small, friendly North Island Robin (toutouwai), which has been reintroduced and is breeding successfully at the park. The rare fernbird and banded rail, which make their home in the Salt marsh on the Puhoi Estuary, are shy by comparison. Kookaburra, some say descended from the birds released by NZ Governor George Grey on Kawau Island in the 1870s, are still seen and heard in the trees around Wenderholm.
Kowhai on the north facing slopes drip with yellow blooms in spring. Pohutukawa blaze red in summer lighting up the ridgeline and the low-laying sandspit which features a grove said to be one of the oldest planted.
Tips: A few electric and solid fuel BBQs are provided but you need to supply your own wood or charcoal. Park is pram friendly.
Background: The park opened in 1965 and took its name from the historic homestead on site, which was formerly known as Wenderholm (winter home). Maori lived here for close to 1000 years because of its plentiful natural resources. Wenderholm was the focal point of Maori settlement in the Mahurangi District and the site of an historic peace making agreement (mihirau) between the Kawerau and Hauraki tribes in the 1780s.
Prominent Auckland politician and entrepreneur Robert Graham became the first European owner in 1868. Graham built a homestead (Wenderholm) on the flat, to use while he spent time at his Waiwera thermal resort in winter. The house is now known as Couldrey House after its last private owner. It has been restored and is run by volunteers as a museum, open to the public on weekends. Historic trees are also a feature at Wenderholm with Caucasian fir, bunya bunya pine, Moreton Bay fig, Holm oak, cork oak, magnolia, coral trees and others planted as long as the 1860s. Many of these were gifts to Robert Graham from Sir George Grey.
More Online: Map of the park
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