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This cache has been archived.

Beauty & The Beast: Sad to see this one archived, as there was a fair bit of local history research done, but replacing it every 3-4 months is not viable for us.


Owairaka (Auckland)

A cache by Beauty & The Beast Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 1/13/2005
2 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

IF YOU'RE COMING TO FIND THIS CACHE, COULD YOU PLEASE BRING A SPARE 35MM FILM CANISTER - TO REPLACE THE CURRENT ONE AS IT'S BROKEN? THANK YOU!!!Cache is 35mm film container and is located on one of Auckland's landmarks. At the today's summit, there's an information-board with history and a map of the area. Make sure you read it.

You can get to the location from numerous places, and even park your car within 40 meters of it. But it's recommended that you park your car in front of the main gate (it closes at Sunset!), and start your exploration of the area (will take about 30 minutes at least). A quite interesting, yet not-so-popular place.

Owairaka 1846 - showing evidence of Maori occupation. Source: Auckland City Libraries

Moving back about 130 years ago, about 10 meters from the cache location there was a tram-line that was used to extract the rock from the quarry, currently archery field. From 1867 a ballast pit was opened on the mountain to supply scoria to public works and private citizens. NZ Railways worked a tramway on the northern slopes from 1888 to 1928 to remove scoria for construction of the Auckland to Kaipara railway. Evidence of the tramway and ballast pit is still clearly visible where the flattened floor of the pit is now used as the archery range. Mountain Green Archery Club that has been established on the site since the 1940's leases the floor of this quarry on the weekends.

The abandoned information-board erected by the Auckland City Council near the entrance to the archery field states:

The high cone of Owairaka was littered with loose pieces of scoria when Europeans first began to settle in Mt Albert in the 1840's. They used it for building walls, many of which remain around the reserve and local gardens.

In 1867 a ballast pit was opened on Owairaka. The ballast pit was an open quarry which supplied scoria to both local councils and private citizens. In the 1880's the Auckland to kaipara railway was extended and a Self Action Incline Tramway was constructed by New Zealand Railways on the northern slopes of the mountain. The scoria was used for building the railway line with the sleepers laid on top of it.

Two trucks operated at a time on this tramway and ran on a single track, with a twin tracked passing bay. The weight of the full truck running down the slope pulled the empty truck up. They passed each other at the passing bay. The tramway ran from a terminus south of Mt Albert Road up the mountain on a slope of 1:25 and 1:3. The track extended into the quarry where it divided into three parallel track. A branch line transported scoria from Owairaka to join the Auckland-Kaipara railway west of the Mt Albert Railway Station.

The ballast pit operated for over 60 years, 1867-1928, and reduced the height of Owairaka from its original 148m to 135m. Less than half the original land surface of the domain remains and most of the Maori terraces have been destroyed.

In the 1920's two reservoirs were built, one either side of the entry by the Mt Albert Borough Concil. These are both now disused and the northern one has been demolished. One of the craters was levelled to form the football field while the other was used as the site of the ARC reservoir which was built in 1945.

The floor of the ballast pit was flattened and has been used for many years by the Mountain Green Archery Club. Further damage was done to the remaining terraces when the inside face of the ballast pit was smoothed in 1961. At the same time the Trig point was moved from the rim of the ballast pit to its present position.

A small quarry operated from time to time during the 1950's and 60's. it was sited on the south-west corner of the mountain where La Veta Avenue now is.

The heritage values of the mountain have been recognised more recently and it is now protected as a Recreation Reserve under the Reserves Act 1977. It is also a scheduled Archaeological and Geological Feature listed in the Proposed District Plan 1993.


Certainly all rail-enthusiasts, or rather train-spotters, will find the following excerpt from book "Railway stations of Auckland's western line" by Sean Millar interesting too:
Mt Albert has the distinction of having previously been the only junction station on the Western Line, with a branch running from immediately north of the station to the near-by volcanic cone after which the suburb is called. Here NZR operated a quarry from the 1880s until the 1920s. No trace of this long gone operation remains near the station, although there's evidence of it elsewhere along its former route.

There are three photos, which are said to be showing the tramline with the vehicles. Unfortunately we ran out of elbow-grease while cleaning up the dirty board to remove the aged dirt, and the photos aren't showing any details at this stage. The map, however is clearly showing the location of the line & the old infrastructure.

Today, Mountain Green Archery Club leases the site of the old tramway quarry, which covers an area of 0.87 hectares. The lease applies on Saturdays and Sundays during the day. Sunday has been the traditional day for archery since the 15th Century and so it is today at Mountain Green Archery Club, when events are time tabled for Sunday afternoons. Generally, Saturday is practice day with an introductory course for novice archers and practice distance shooting for members and visitors.

Make sure you bring your camera and post any interesting pictures, or facts that you might know about this area!!!

Oh, and watch the ants at GZ! [Seriously, look at the logs below!!!]

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Qba'g trg gbb fghzcrq ba guvf bar.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



312 Logged Visits

Found it 267     Didn't find it 14     Write note 9     Archive 1     Needs Archived 1     Temporarily Disable Listing 1     Enable Listing 1     Needs Maintenance 7     Owner Maintenance 10     Post Reviewer Note 1     

View Logbook | View the Image Gallery of 16 images

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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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