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Hometown haunts and habitats: a brown river

Without question there are far more beautiful rivers in NZ. Up here there are no glaciers to feed the waterways. Don’t be put off by the colour though – the perpetually muddy Kaipara River has its own beauty and character.

It’s an icon of the region thanks to the radical twisting and turning as it winds its way from hills to the south into the Kaipara Harbour. The river levels, in their sediment-rich brownness, rise and fall with the harbour tide. At low tide, the muddy banks and mangrove roots are exposed.

I’ve never been a fan of mangroves, but coastal ecology and all that.

Along one stretch of the river sits the pioneer town Helensville. It was established in the days when kauri was king, becoming one of two big shipping ports servicing the harbour. This was also the era of passenger steamships. However, when the kauri forests finally dwindled, and with the arrival of the railway, the need for the port diminished.

Remnants of these times can be seen, thanks in part to a riverside walkway. Today the river is the domain of tour cruises and fishing boats.

I may be from these parts but I’ve never been on the river. One of these days I need to do something about that.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. You definitely should get on to that river! Gorgeous photos, Hayley. I find rivers fascinating, there is always so much to see along their banks and often quite wonderful birds, plants, insects and animals make the riverbank their home. Have you ever read ‘Wind in the willows? It’s a childrens book but still beautiful to read as an adult. Enjoy your river adventures! 😀

    16 January 2014
    • The notion that I haven’t been out on the river/harbour got more ridiculous the more I thought about it. (Think I did go out on a boat to go fishing once, many many moons ago.) Yes I did read WitW though my fairly crap memory means I can’t recall much about it. I last thought about it a couple of years ago in Edinburgh as I happened to stay in the house where the author was born. Thanks so much for your comment, Lottie!

      17 January 2014
  2. Janice Strong #

    Wonderful photos Hayley and the river is so beautiful. I tend to take rivers for granted but you have shown how much character they have. And your tale of the history is so interesting. Can’t wait to read the next blog! Janice x

    16 January 2014
    • One benefit of being a keen taker of photos and having this blog is that it’s made me more observant of the everyday mundane stuff. It may not always translate to things of interest to other people but I’m happy that you enjoyed this one Janice! x

      17 January 2014
  3. Love the pics. I agree get on that river! And thanks for the follow! Speaking or rivers we plan to get on the mighty Colorado in the next few days. (The slow part that meanders.) 🙂

    17 January 2014
    • You’re welcome, meant to do it a while back but I must have fluffed up the mouse click. Enjoy your mighty meandering – I’m imagining the scenery already!

      17 January 2014
  4. Lovely pics, as usual. I’ve just looked it up on the map, as I’ve never been up that way – somewhere to check out when I finally get round to exploring north of Auckland.

    17 January 2014
    • Thank you! Great – there’s plenty out that way to occupy a day, with a sprinkling of good cafes to boot.

      18 January 2014

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