This is one of our favourite things to do on a Sunday: A walk in the Scenic Reserve in Clevedon, followed by the best pizza in all of Auckland on the very popular Clevedon market. We decided to stay home over the long weekend for Labour day instead of rushing out of Auckland city like almost everyone else and because we already went mountain biking in Woodhill on Saturday and planned to go for a hike in the Waitakeres on Monday, we didn’t want to overdo it for Sunday while still having an active element.
So we got up early-ish and headed eastwards. It only takes us around 40 minutes via the very windy scenic drive. When we arrived in Clevedon, it was raining. Perfect excuse to grab a coffee at our favourite local café (called "With Relish") before hitting the trail.
The Clevedon Scenic Reserve lies slightly out of the town center. It’s a little hidden and if you don’t know about it, you’ll drive past. It's one of our most favourite walking tracks in Auckland, because it's a lovely bush walk, it's a challenging walking track as it is steep, and it rewards us with amazing views over Coromandel Peninsula and Auckland City.
We park in our regular spot and strap on our hiking boots (it can get very muddy at times, better leave your Sunday Best at home for this). There are Kauri trees in the reserve, so please don’t forget to disinfect your shoes at the bridge to prevent kauri dieback. At first, the path leads through a picturesque park that’s perfect for family picnics. After a few minutes, the walk forks in 3 directions: right, middle and left. The middle one leads into a little quarry with a pretty waterfall and two picnic tables. It’s about 5 minutes each way. The left and right paths both reach the top of the hill and make a nice loop. Many people only use the right hand path for up and back down because it is said to be less muddy, with stairs leading through the forest until about half way. However, so far I found both ways to be muddy and your shoes get dirty anyway, so why not making it a loop.
By the way, the walk to the top takes about 30 minutes and is approximately 1.5km long. Sounds nice and easy, if it weren’t so steep.
I walked up the path on the right with the stairs, while Chris decided to take the path on the left. He wanted to run up the hill while I found it breathtaking enough (literally) to just walk. We parted and I started my climb. The atmosphere in the forest is lovely, everywhere around you there are hundred shades of green. The Tuis and other birds are chatting and apart from your own breath, that’s all you hear as you make your way up. I stopped every now and then to catch my breath take pictures and a little more than half way Chris already came running on his way down. We arranged to wait for each other at the top and off he ran again.
The view from the top is breathtaking! There is a wooden stand and from there you can see 360°, from the Coromandel peninsula on one side to the Skytower on the other. That’s at least how I know it from the last times. This Sunday, the view wasn’t so great. I could watch the rain cloud coming closer and closer, which was kind of spectacular, too.
After Chris came back up and had a little rest and water, we made our way down again. This time the “unloved” side really was muddier but our GoreTex shoes didn’t really care.
Back down, we had just about enough time to drive over to the Clevedon Farmers’ Market. They are one of the most popular sunday markets in Auckland and always lovely to visit. It closes at 1pm, which usually makes it a very close call for us as we don’t like to get up at 7am on a Sunday. The market is heaven for those who like fresh produce and street food. And pizza. It might sound silly but we come here for the pizza magic. There is no other like it in Auckland. Even though I’m pretty sure no Italian works there, it’s proper Italian wood fired pizza like they eat it in Napoli. Fresh dough, tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil leaf. If you like, you can add Prosciutto. So! Very! Good! Plus, I already pre-trained off those calories on the walk, so it’s double yummy.
Because I like to drive home on different routes than how we got here, we usually take the road that leads towards the pretty Maraetai beaches. There are some nice cafes and walks along the water, which is ideal to make your day really perfect.
Clevedon is about an hour from Auckland central. There are several ways to get there, just pick the one that’s the most suitable for you.
The town of Clevedon is worth a visit, too. I's very artsy with cute little shops and pretty things to buy. There is even another market on Sundays, in the town hall in the center.