On Boxing Day I enjoyed a stroll along the bijou new Weona-Westmere Walkway. Eventually.

Although a local resident and ardent perambulator, I had a hell of a time finding it. The only online guidance seemed to be a confusing PDF on a council website, from which I, admittedly no great shakes as an interpreter of maps, struggled to discern an ideal entry point.

Ultimately I gave up and just lobbed on to the first entrance I could find, turned right and before I knew it had come to the end of a very short trail. From various signs on the trail I deduced that if I had at first turned left I could have walked more of the way.

It's great as far as it goes - which is not very - quite lovely in fact. Walking through the mangroves and on the water with harbour views to boot in the quiet and early morning light, it was spellbinding.


Volunteers did much of the work and it's a credit to them.

But it's not perfect.

To name the most obvious flaw - its disability access would score minus five and it would be all but impassable for anyone with a pushchair. To create a public resource without such facilities in 2017 seems strange at least.

One nearby resident and friend has welcomed the lack of information about the walkway on the basis that it will keep down the number of people using it. I hope that's not a widely shared view among locals, although many are describing it as a "neighbourhood facility" with the emphasis on neighbourhood.

No doubt some of them will be those who agitated for years to prevent it being installed at all. It has taken decades to get this slim two kilometres functional.

Which brings me to Pippa Coom, who is the deputy chairwoman of the Waitemata Local Board and she's just lovely. I know her by sight and to say hello to and that's it. Most people do if they've ever stepped outside their front doors in the Waitemata and Gulf ward, because she apparently has the divine gift of omnipresence. Always out and about doing things, she is exactly the sort of person you want on your local body.

Walking through the mangroves and on the water with harbour views in the quiet and early morning light, it was spellbinding.

And she's taken it upon herself in her own time to try to make some sense out of the Weona-Westmere Walkway by devising a round trip walk that includes it and other local highlights, including regenerating local bush.

"On a Google map of the route," she writes on her blog, "I've included details about how to access the walk, places of interest, photos along the way and pit stops (including toilets and drinking fountains)." So that's what she did in her holidays.


The case of the walkway is representative of one of Auckland's core perennial problems: great opportunities and ideas executed - if at all - in a half-arsed way.

There are other walkways in the region but the obvious one, which would extend around the southern shores of the Waitemata linking the likes of Westmere to the CBD, east coast beaches and beyond in either direction and linked of course to the bridge cycle path, is a long way off.

There are "plans" for this. There always have been. But we should long since have been able to enjoy this walk, which really would be a world-class visitor-magnet, unlike other much vaunted attractions.

Until that happens we must make the most of what we've got. But really - Pippa Coom and her ilk can't be expected to devote all their time to making silk purses out of the sows' ears that result from council's lack of imagination and political will.