Cate Foster follows Oakley Creek's winding paths.
The kind of walk our Sunday group never tires of always contains the following elements: greenery, water, views, a hill and a dose of caffeine at the end. Leafy Mt Albert is known for its handsome gardens and parks, but less well-known by those not from the neighbourhood are the delights of Oakley Creek Walkway.
On the Sunday we choose, the sun is shining and we set off in fine fettle from Ian and Chris' house opposite Unitec. Moving quickly, we march down the main road to the rear of the campus and skirt the grounds until we're beside the puppy-training area.
We find the path down to the walkway a little way along from where it starts at the edge of Great North Rd.
The continued efforts of residents and enthusiasts in planting and weeding are beginning to show results and the walkway is looking more established. Ducks and moorhens do their thing in the little creek that runs beside the path, the last of the monarch butterflies feed on a swan plant and once again the magic of the place casts its spell on all of us.
The waterfall halfway along is a delightful surprise.
Several paths offer exits away from the stream and we take the one that leads to Phyllis St Reserve. This, in turn, takes us into Harbutt Reserve and here we leave the walkway and turn into Harbutt Ave (for those who want to continue following the path of Oakley Creek, it runs through a series of reserves all the way to Mt Roskill).
Harbutt Ave leads us on to Woodward Rd, across the railway lines and across New North Rd to the beginning of Richardson Rd.
Ten minutes along here we turn left up Grande Ave to reach Owairaka Park or, as it is more commonly known in the neighbourhood, Mt Albert Domain.
A flight of concrete stairs off the end of this street leads to a road that circles the volcanic cone, giving magnificent 360-degree views across the city and both harbours.
Tracks off the road lead into woodland that in spring is riotous with a species of large forget-me-nots.
Near the archery field is a sign pointing down the slope to Toroa Tce. We climb the stile and walk down the path to Mt Albert Rd, where we turn left and walk for about 100m until we can cross into Alberton Ave.
We pass Mt Albert Grammar School and Mt Albert Aquatic Centre to reach the little centre of excellence that has arisen opposite Rocket Park playground. Tantalising whiffs of espresso and fresh-baked bread from the Pyrenees Deli scent the air, but we press on past here and the inviting Parkside Cafe.
Taking the central path beside the playground we cross Mt Albert War Memorial Reserve and exit on the path behind the fantastic amenity that is the YMCA gym.
This leads across Asquith Ave and it's a quick step back to Ian and Chris', where homemade coffee and muffins await us on the veranda.
ALONG THE WAY
Pyrenees Deli: 756 New North Rd (cnr Alberton Ave), ph (09) 846 8561, 8.30am-6pm
Parkside Cafe: 775 New North Rd (cnr Wairere Ave), ph (09) 815 1885, 10.30am-4pm
YMCA Mt Albert: 773 New North Rd, Mt Albert War Memorial Park
Rocket Park Playground: Cnr Wairere Ave and New North Rd
Mt Albert Aquatic Centre: 38 Alberton Ave, ph (09) 815 7005