Stories that take you on a journey

Little Shoal Bay aka Ugly Boat Bay

North Shore, Auckland, New Zealand

While I don’t want to offend any of the current owners of boats moored in Little Shoal Bay, back in the 1990’s we always thought of this bay as home to the ugly boats.

I am walking through the bay on Boxing Day 2014. It is an overcast morning, the tide is receding, leaving a bilge keeler marooned in the mudflats. Pohutukawas hug the coastline, and local couples and families hang out in the park drinking coffee from a nearby café. I sit on a bench, take in the scene and feel very uneasy about our nickname for Little Shoal Bay.

Boxing Day_Little Shoal Bay2

But back in the 90’s when I first moved to Northcote Point, Little Shoal Bay was at its best rustic and messy, bordering on ugly. The foreshore was dominated by boat cradles, empty in summer. In the winter months, the cradles held boats in various states of disrepair. Because there wasn’t a boat ramp, the haul-out tractors chewed up the surrounding grass area.

Winter at Little Shoal Bay

Winter at Little Shoal Bay

Nearby the Kon Tiki Motel occupied prime land, which had once been part of the Maori track leading from the top of Council Terrace, Northcote Point, to the still intact scout den. In 1835 Ngai Tai Maori’s returned to Te Onewa (now Northcote Point), the nearby tidal estuary, Little Shoal Bay providing a valuable source of food; fishing grounds at high tide and purveyor of shellfish at low tide. Across the road, the flat land bordering Le Roys bush was leased to the Kon Tiki Motel for use as camping grounds.

In the early 1990s, the North Shore City Council sold this land. When local residents discovered the sale and the proposal by the new owners to build an intensive housing development on it, the Council was overwhelmed by their protests. The protest movement led to the start of the Little Shoal Bay Action Committee. (LSBAC).

As a result of work carried out by LSBAC, this bay has been transformed. If my memory is correct, the first step towards the transformation of Little Shoal Bay was the dismantling of Kon Tiki Motel and the last remnants of the Birkenhead and Northcote Gas Company gasworks. Although the wall from the gasworks wharf remains and is occasionally used as a fishing spot.

Early morning fishing...high tide at Little Shoal Bay (Winter)

Early morning fishing…high tide at Little Shoal Bay (Winter)

As a result of these changes, Little Shoal Bay Boat Owners Association, boat storage space was reduced. Giving the public a beautiful park with new amenities. They include a children’s playground, an adult fitness area, and a BBQ area with adjoining picnic tables. Across the road, the flat land is lush and used by families for cricket matches or the Council for their Families in the Park program and Movies in the Parks events.

The featured image was taken to give friends in Germany a little snapshot of Auckland at Christmastime. When I uploaded the photo, I finally saw the beauty in our Ugly Boat Bay.


Images copyright Compendium Interactive Limited.

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