By vehicle – From Green Lane West, Manukau Road, Market Road and Campbell Road. There is plenty of free car parking available for visitors.
By train or bus – The closest train stations are Greenlane, a 15min walk (approx) along Green Lane West, and Remuera Road, a 10 min walk along Market Road to Puriri Drive entrance. There is no direct bus, however, buses travel along Manukau Road, Green Lane West and Great South Road.
Cornwall Park is a city oasis and home to One Tree Hill, one of New Zealand’s most recognised volcanic cones. The park is steeped in history and surrounded by nature with over 30 native bird species, 350 different species of trees and farmland that is home to 600 sheep and 60 cows with the addition of newborn lambs and calves between July to September.
The Creamery was a great place for us to start our visit. It was lunchtime and I needed to satisfy the kid’s before we started up One Tree Hill. The weather forecast was for rain so we weren’t sure whether we’d have to surrender to the weather. Luckily for us, it stayed fine and even perked up as the day went on. We had just attended a clinic visit at the neighbouring Greenlane Hospital so a walk and wheel was definitely on the agenda.
Parking was right out front and at first, we considered the Bistro which was directly next door. Now, if the kids weren’t with me I would have eaten there, but we were turned away as my youngest wouldn’t put his shoes on. Rightly so, he seems to have that very typical country Kiwi attitude of barefooting it everywhere.
Luckily being turned away meant we checked out the Creamery instead, which was perfect for us. They had everything a young family might desire, a quick takeaway of three ice-creams, some hot chips, a couple of muffins and best of all one well-earned cup of coffee!
At the Creamery, we found a welcoming ramp that led us to their chalkboard menu. They have a great selection of ice cream and sorbets with our favourite being the passion fruit sorbet. We ate our lunch on the picnic tables out front and were kept busy fending off the cheeky sparrows. The birds showed no fear of us and constantly tried their luck stealing our scraps of food.
I went in search of the accessible toilets in this area, as according to the official map they were supposed to be here. We found the regular block of toilets but unfortunately, I couldn’t locate the accessible ones. I have to say that this was a first for me. I’ll have to follow up on their whereabouts, but on this occasion, it was lucky we didn’t need them.
The Bistro & Historic Cottage
Although we didn’t eat at The Bistro I asked, as I had my shoes on, if I could check it out. Happy to report it was accessible with a ramp to enter with good turning spaces inside. The outside area looked good too although they had some pots in the way on our visit. If these were moved across it would allow easier access from outside.
“In another location in Cornwall Park is The Cafe, we didn’t visit here but definitely looks like another great accessible option to catch a bite to eat'”
On the opposite side of the road, is Acacia Cottage which is the oldest surviving wooden building in Auckland and is a significant heritage building. We viewed it from the outside as it wasn’t wheelchair accessible.
Information Centre | Huia Lodge
Huia Lodge is a discovery hub where you can discover more about Cornwall Park, have all your questions answered and receive assistance from issues to emergencies – there is also an AED onsite. This is probably where I should have enquired about the whereabouts of the mysterious ‘accessible toilets.’
We had heaps of fun in here learning all about the historical significance of the area to Auckland. Fantastic visuals around the place for us all to learn about the volcano, bird-life and the huge variety of trees throughout the Park, up to 8000 approximately!
We were able to access all around the Centre except the Activity Room where there were a few steps down into the room. The displays, in general, seemed to be at a reasonable height for wheelchair access.
Wheeling Up To One Tree Hill
Now, I have to say we could have driven to a closer carpark but for us, walking 10 mins up the road felt a lot easier than getting our Finlay in and out of the car. Our car is a problem for us at the moment because the powerchair only just fits inside. We are well overdue an upgrade as Finlay now has to duck his head down to miss the top of the door when entering.
The walk was good for us, however, and we seemed to find the curb cuts when we needed them. Curb cuts have become more of a necessity to locate since getting the powerchair. The road up took us through into farmland where we would come across cattle-grids and gates to open and close behind us. We also tried to miss the sheep poo along the way but found it unavoidable at times.
“Kind of a novelty experiencing the country life in the middle of New Zealand’s biggest city.”
Carpark Before No Cars Allowed
It wasn’t long before we found the summit road carpark, from here you have to leave the car and head up the top by foot. You used to be able to drive right up to the summit but in March 2018 it became vehicle-free.
Vehicle access is available for people who have limited mobility. To raise the barrier arm there is a number you can call to obtain the access code.
For the Access Code call 09 301 0101
The reason for making One Tree Hill vehicle-free was to recognise the maunga (mountain) as a site of immense cultural and historical significance.
The Benefits Of A Vehicle-Free Road
Before the closure came about there was a lot of public negativity around taking away vehicle access. For us, we actually found it liberating, why? Because the powerchair has no problem getting up the hill and it’s safer. Before, traffic would be constantly heading up and down making it near on impossible for us to walk and wheel up at all.
Our First Sighting Of The Summit
We found the road started to get steeper towards the end. It generally zigs zags upwards allowing the gradient to be easier to handle. For a manual wheelchair, you would have to put a bit of muscle into the last bit.
Effortless, With A Bit Of Power
The views are stunning once you reach the top. It’s possible to wheel around the summit taking in the breathtaking views in every direction. We enjoyed pointing out all the other volcanic cones that we’d conquered in recent days.
The Area The Wheels Couldn’t Access
Once we got to the top we realised we couldn’t get right to the top because of the steps. What wheelies miss is reading about the Maori and European history of One Tree Hill. The meeting of the two cultures portrayed in a bronze statue of a Maori warrior under the iconic Obelisk, a memorial representing Maori. Also, under the Obelisk lies the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell who gifted Cornwall Park to the People of New Zealand in 1901.
Cornwall Park Playground
After our descent and reuniting ourselves with our car, we dropped into the Park’s playground before we left. Overall it has good accessibility, the bark is not in your way and the terrain is flat and well maintained. However, apart from the layout being accessible there is very little a wheelie kid could play on. The playground also comes equipped with a flying fox and plenty of shady places to have a picnic.
I would say that this is not a bad playground if you are a parent in a wheelchair. You can easily get to the kids if you need to.
The Stardome Observatory
Another place to visit if you get the chance is The Stardome Observatory which is also located in the One Tree Hill Domain. It contains two telescopes and a planetarium and well worth a visit.
We have visited the Stardome in the past and can’t recall any issues with wheelchair access.