Cornwall Park Olive Grove

Thursday 19 August – Auckland.

I didn’t realise how much I loved trees until I started going to Epping Forest which was near where we lived in London. I started going there on my mountain bike but eventually took to taking slow walks with my camera. Not knowing how much I loved trees until going to London seems odd as I grew up in New Zealand and spent a lot of time running and riding around in forests. I guess all that moving about reduced the amount of standing and staring and just taking time to enjoy what surrounded me, namely trees. Lots and lots of trees.

I have taken photos in the olive grove in Cornwall Park in the past, and was looking forward to going back there when my sister invited us to stay once we arrived in Auckland and out of managed isolation. Cornwall Park is a great green space that mostly surrounds the more well known One Tree Hill, and my sister’s house is a ten minute walk away. Having the park so close has been a real boon now that we are in back into lockdown. When Eleanor and I walked in the park yesterday afternoon I decided to come back on my own and just spend some time walking around the olive trees and taking some photos.

The outing this afternoon was a positive lift after this morning when I had to cancel the small road trip to Napier we had planned for next week, our only planned break before Eleanor starts work on the 30th. This was the second holiday we have cancelled due to Covid outbreaks, and I am hoping it will be the last. At least all the bookings had free cancellation policies this time.

There are a range of tree species in the park, and I don’t recall the small kauri groves, but then I wasn’t interested in trees before I left for the UK 10 years ago. Kauri, particularly in Auckland, is very much an endangered species due to a long running fungus outbreak. The three small groves I found today were all roped off to prevent humans, dogs and the parks mammalian residents from walking over the roots. I didn’t cross the rope, though the ‘up’ photo suggests I did. I am a little more obedient than I used to be. These are quite young trees, kauri number among some of New Zealand’s oldest trees, Tane Mahuta is regarded as the oldest tree in the country at over 1250 years.

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There are also a number of Morton Bay Fig trees with their amazing root systems, I love these trees too. The variety of tree in this park is so broad and there will be at least one more tree-based photography visit in the next couple of weeks. I think this is the only positive to lockdown, though not spending any money unnecessarily maybe another, there aren’t that many.

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I have not been able to find much information regarding the olive trees, information on the internet is sparse. Cornwall Park was gifted to the people of Auckland in 1901 by Sir John Logan Campbell, who bought the land in 1853. After a visit to Italy Sir John organised the planting of 5000 olive trees in the park in the 1860s as part of an effort to introduce a winery. The olive trees came from South Australia and didn’t take to the soil and growing conditions in Auckland and failed to fruit economically. There are around 200 olive trees left and I love them. They are some of the oldest trees growing in the park, and the good news is that younger trees are growing too, so these sparse, twisty lovely trees will be there for generations to come.

I spent most of this visit in the olive grove and took a number of photos, most of which I was pleased with, a fairly rare event.

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It was good to see a number of newer trees growing to ensure the future of this part of the park. They are all fenced off as cattle and sheep roam this section of the park. I was careful to avoid the cow ‘land mines’ that litter the pathways  as I walked. Smile

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