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Meola Reef Te Tokoroa

Auckland’s longest lava flow (11km) from Te Kōpuke / Mt St. John volcano since 28,500-years covers 14 hectares with its two kilometer long tidal tongue basalt reef in the Waitematā Harbour
Home / Services / Private: Meola Reef Te Tokoroa
Private: Meola Reef Te Tokoroa


Year 6+, age 9+


Meola Reef Te Tokoroa

Meola Reef is central to open spaces including Seddon Fields, Jaggers Bush Reserve, Auckland Zoo and Western Springs.

We take inspiration from the Te Aranga Māori Design Values and Principles. This helps us to connect with and deepen our collective appreciation through ‘sense of place’. We develop ‘place-based' applications using strategic foundations for local context. Our vision includes enhancing the biodiversity of Meola Reef and creating a habitat for the native wildlife, better connecting people to the coast. Te Tokoroa is a place:

Highly-valued for its undeveloped ‘wild’ nature,Where ecological values are maintained and enhanced,
Which is a destination park, enjoyed all recreational users.
As the population of Auckland grows and design becomes more critical with intensive development, it changes our places to live, work and play. Such careful programme design is used as a positive tool aiding this development to help us achieve great places recognisable as uniquely Auckland.
Waitemata network
Let us reconnect you with ancient ancestral wisdom using Meola Reef Te Tokoroa. We retune you with your environment and each other serving common goals. Everyone is enriched through our te reo Māori exposure and exploration of the compelling Tāmaki Makaurau history. We preserve the intrinsic balance of life for all living beings and kaupapa making reference to both deities Ranginui when you breathe his air and Papatuanuku when you walk her soils.
Meola Reef Te Tokoroa education approach and theory of improvement


We act as a Meola Reef Te Tokoroa Waitemata facilitator helping action common goals by:

Assisting in new Learning Environments,
Personalising learning and encouraging inquiry,
Providing well-balanced positive learning environments,
Supporting respectful relationships,
Implementing programmes for all achievers,
Lifting agency, engagement and mastery,
Making seamless services incorporating learning needs,
Strengthening te reo Māori history.


How we will do this using Meola Reef Te Tokoroa

Share collaborative inquiry models to improve practices,
Māori World Views and Involvement,
Taking Control of Learning,
High Expectations,
Embed partnerships,
Focus on current issues like mental health through adventure therapy,
Applying learning subjects to field excursions.


Linked up / Connected thinking for Meola Reef Te Tokoroa

• Work with Closed Landfills team and Healthy Waters team on addressing
the ecological and safety issues with the site
• Include the Closed Landfills team in the draft plan presentation Tohu - The wider cultural landscape
• Provide for and enhance views of maunga
• Profile, communicate and educate on the importance of the Te Tokaroa / Meola Reef geological lava flow to enable the geological, natural and mana whenua history to become the starting point for engaging with the site
• Acknowledge the landfill and provide opportunity to mourn over the history of the treatment of the site
• Remediate and curb further degradation of the site Taiao - The natural environment
• Extend and enhance salt marsh habitat e.g. ureure / glasswort
• Extend and enhance coastal forest ecology
• Provide for indigenous grasses and sedges
• Protect ecology – birds and dogs don’t mix Whakapapa - Names & naming
• Recognise and celebrate


Maintaining the sense of remoteness and ‘wild nature’ of Meola Reef Reserve Te Tokaroa

Increase overall biodiversity values of the Meola Reef Reserve Te Tokaroa by expanding the extent and diversity of saltmarsh communities and the coastal broadleaf forest.


Getting to Meola Reef

We work mostly with local schools who all walk from school to the reef. We also work with the local community; 50% of whom walk or cycle to the park. Our willingness to work with those further afield requires a commitment to embrace more human-powered movement to the park; like cycling.

Meola Reef Te Tokoroa Social Nature Movement
Meola Reef Te Tokoroa Social Nature Movement
History of Meola Reef Te Tokoroa
Meola Reef Reserve Te Tokaroa has a rich, multi-layered history that can be understood as four distinct phases of development and change - geological, Māori, colonial and the more recent post-landfill history.

The name ‘Meola’ supposedly comes from a glacier in India where Allan Kerr Taylor was born and lived until the age of eight. The Kerr Taylor family lived in Mount Albert near the source of Meola Creek in the historic Alberton House. Te Tokoroa is ‘toka’ meaning ‘rock’ and ‘roa’ meaning ‘long’. The place where the waters of Waititiko/Meola Creek (“water of the periwinkles”) and Waiorea/Motions Creek (“waters of the eel”) meet is known as Te Hononga o Ngā Wai, meaning the joining of waters.

Geology of Meola Reef Te Tokoroa
The irregular coastline, deep bays and broad sinuous estuaries of the Waitematā Harbour are typical of a drowned river system.

The sea level was lower at the time of the eruptions than it is today and the lava flowed into forested river valleys. As it cooled, the molten lava contracted and formed into sets of vertical and hexagonal joints of basalt, creating the substrate for Meola Reef. As the sea level rose at the end of the last ice age, the hard surface of the lava flow would have supported diverse marine biota. Over time the accumulation of soft sediments in sheltered parts of the reef allowed the colonisation by saltmarsh plants and mangroves, which offered significant habitat for a wide range of wildlife, particularly marine birds.


Site characteristics of Meola Reef Te Tokoroa

The land slopes up to a soft ridge and grassed plateau 12.5m above sea level which runs down the middle of the site, flattening off towards the north and meeting the underlying lava flow.

Meola Reef’s separation from neighbouring properties and land uses by water and Meola Road contributes significantly to the community perception of the reserve as a ‘wild’ area and a place to experience nature. Key values for residents are proximity to water, views out across the harbour, sense of space, low-key development, green space, ease of access to significant ecological systems.


Maori history of Meola Reef Te Tokoroa

A small 1840’s Māori settlement between what is now Johnstone and Oliver Roads overlooked Meola Reef. In 1861 the first pioneers settled in the area between Meola and Oakley Creeks and the few remaining Māori residents abandoned the area rapidly, leaving their canoes on the beach.

Te Tokaroa was also used as a land bridge. It was recognised as a challenging stretch of water to navigate and was a valuable mahinga kai site - for fishing, flax gathering and shellfish collecting. A pinnacle rock referred to on maps as Boat Rock and visible at low tide off Kauri Point is reffered to as Te Matā, the Flint Stone. Tribal tradition tells Te Matā serving as a boundary mark for hapū fisheries and a tapu ceremonial site. Te Matā was also the repository of tribal mauri, an enduring landform which withstands the ebb and flow of the tides.

Patupaiarehe (fairy people) lived in the darkness of Waitakere bush. One night – on the shores of the Waitemata Harbour – two opposing groups were doing battle. The weaker ones tried to escape by building a stone causeway”"They laboured on unaware of the rising sun. The tree limbs sticking out of the lava flow of the reef, Te Toka Roa, are said to be the bones of the Patupaiarehe fairy people, petrified by the sun."

Colonial history of Meola Reef Te Tokoroa

Rifle Range
Between 1859 – 1867 the area of land now known as Western Springs Park was converted into Auckland’s military rifle range.

The Auckland Harbour Board quarried this place from 1873.

Lunatic Asylum
Part of Meola Reef was gazetted in 1874 as a Lunatic Asylum Endowment Reserve and was leased to local farmers and used for quarrying.

The Dignan family in about 1902 sold their land at the northern tip of the Point Chevalier peninsula for use as an infectious diseases hospital.

The hospital never got used enough, so Auckland Council persuaded the Health Board to surrender this land in exchange for a part of the Domain, so we got Coyle Park!

Rubbish dump
In 1892 Councils began tipping rubbish and other controversial disposals including dead zoo animals and medical waste just off Jagger’s Bush but all ended in 1976.


Many other suggestions since 1953 for Meola Reef have included:

Marine park,

Livestock holding paddocks,

National road safety training park,

Sports playing fields,

Petrol station,

Boat building yard and landing ramp,

Theme park,

Second harbour crossing bridge.


Recent history of Meola Reef Te Tokoroa

In 1892 Grey Lynn Borough Council began tipping rubbish into gullies just off Garnet Road in what is now Jaggers Bush.

In 1983 it was decided to graze much of the reef, grazing continued on the reserve until 2000.

A reserve management plan for Meola Reef and several nearby park spaces in the Western Springs area was completed in 2002. Of particular note was the recognition by Te Hao o Ngāti Whātua that Te Tokoroa had special issues relating to its former use and development as a landfill site, that the land had been neglected and wounded, and that there was an obligation to rehabilitate the site and restore the mauri to the whole of the area. During that period there was also increased interest in Meola Reef Reserve Te Tokaroa becoming an inner city sanctuary for birds.

Reserve management plans for Meola Reef Te Tokoroa and nearby parks was completed in 2002. Te Hao o Ngāti Whātua recognized that Te Tokoroa had former issues as a landfill, land had been neglected, wounded and the duty to rehabilitate the site restoring the mauri to the whole area.

We address changes of Meola Reef Te Tokoroa with key community stakeholders. Currently we are members of St. Luke’s Environmental Protection Society (STEPS) and the Manukau Harbour Restoration Society. As part of our environmental responsibility, we dedicate funds from our engagements towards these two societies. We also work with other community stakeholders like the Auckland Council Healthy Waters / WaiCare / Watercare Services ltd. This allows us to focus more on the precious waterways and have you undertaking earth science projects.

Part of the environmental projects has seen the success of the below pathway and concept. We would like to take you both on the Meola Reef Te Tokoroa itself but also the ‘Ridge to Reef’ walkway. What’s more, there are plenty of opportunities to ‘re-wild’ the walkway and surrounds.

The Meola Reef Reserve Te Tokaroa is scheduled as a terrestrial Significant Ecological Area (SEA) under the Auckland Unitary Plan, Operative in Part (AUP:OP), meeting two criteria: threat status, rarity and stepping stones, migration pathways and buffers. Meola Reef Reserve Te Tokaroa is boarded by four marine SEAs, two of which are listed as significant wading bird habitat. Te Tokoroa Reef system provides a range of habitats and flora and fauna which is unique both within the Waitematā Harbour and throughout New Zealand, and nationally recognised as a rare ecosystem type. The hard surface presented by the lava flow is unusual within the Waitematā Harbour and the diverse marine biota it supports, particularly sponges and bryozoans, is correspondingly unusual. The reef and tidal mudflats, also to the north of the reserve, is a significant area for wading birds. There are extensive salt marshes and mangrove communities associated with the reef and creeks to the east and west of the reserve.


Fauna - Birds, insects and reptiles at Meola Reef Reserve

Birds | Avifauna

Areas surrounding Meola Reef Reserve Te Tokaroa are noted for their value as feeding, roosting, and breeding habitat for coastal and wading birds. Species observed in the saline vegetation and along the reef are white-faced heron, welcome swallow, South Island pied oystercatcher and pied stilt, with the Australasian harrier hawk, and starling observed above the grassland. Blackbirds are present;i n 2012, 11 species were recorded. Two New Zealand dotterels pairs were observed. Further investigation is recommended to assess the current value of the site as dotterel breeding grounds.

The riparian margins and the northern end of the reserve are dedicated to the maintenance and enhancement of the ecological values of the site and surrounding environs. The riparian corridors along Meola and Motions creeks are planted to increase their width and effectiveness as a wildlife corridor. Careful consideration is given to the edge of this planting to ensure sightlines are maintained for the primary path network. The northern end of the reserve is fenced off to create a no dog area for birds and other wildlife, picnic areas and to allow for the long term colonisation of saline vegetation of the area. Large areas of the northern headland are bound by an extensive boardwalk and viewing platforms which also forms the extent of the area accessible to people and helps to protect sensitive ecological areas. It is important to note that all planting on Meola Reef carefully considers the challenges and constraints associated with the cap and cover.

Designing for birds
• Expanding the extent and diversity of saltmarsh communities and the coastal broadleaf forest
• Developing strategies for planting and establishing vegetation cover that does not compromise the integrity of the landfill cap

Resilience and adaptation
- Ensure that Meola Reef Reserve Te Tokaroa is prepared for changes in climate and sea level rise by designing strategies that allow for the ongoing adaptation of the site ecology and the use of the reserve.
- Using platforms such as New Zealand eBird. Engagement and stewardship through our ecological restoration initiatives and ongoing monitoring and maintenance.


Lizards | Herpetofauna

All native herpetofauna or lizard species are protected under the Wildlife Act 1953 and it is an offence to disturb or kill native lizards without a Wildlife Act Authority issued by the Department of Conservation. The habitat currently present at Meola Reef Reserve has the potential to support a range of lizard species. Rank grass is a preferred habitat type for copper and ornate skinks and the site may potentially support abundant populations of these species (EcoGecko, 2017). As a coastal site, it is also possible that moko or shore skinks may be present (EcoGecko, 2017). Forest and elegant geckos have occasionally been recorded within mangrove habitat and these species may be present within coastal vegetation. Clearance or disturbance of rank grassland, thick vegetation, and leaf litter or other ground cover may result in a loss of habitat or direct injury to lizards.


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Check out our booking tab, click the book now button or fill an enquiry here.

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This changes depending on what we do and where we go, but generic items are:


  • Thermal bottom leggings,
  • Underwear,
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Swimwear
  • Socks
  • Thin merino shirt / thermal shirt x 2
  • Fleece jumper x1
  • Woolen jumper x1
  • Wind and Rain-proof Jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Warm beanie
  • Neck warmer / scarf
  • Warm gloves


  • Jandals
  • Closed-toe footwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Personal medication
  • Water bottle,
  • Head torch,
  • Toiletries.
  • Waterproof pack liner
  • Backpack to put all of the above in

All of the above is available to rent / hire / buy

  • Pricing Name
    Group (Min-Max)
  • Pricing Name Price
    1 - 20 Pax
    Available Seats: 20

    Adult ( 1 - 20 Pax ) $199.00 $0.00 /Person

    - +

    Child ( 1 - 20 Pax ) $179.00 $0.00 /Person

    - +