Stories and photographs

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.

As I walk through the bay on Boxing Day 2014, an overcast morning, the tide receding leaving a bilge keeler marooned in the mud flats, the Pohutukawas in bloom along the coastline, local couples and families dotted throughout the surrounding reserve drinking coffee from a nearby café, our nickname seems inappropriate.

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 at its worst messy bordering on ugly; the foreshore dominated by boat cradles, mostly empty in summer and during the winter months fully occupied by boats in various states of disrepair, the foreshore grass marred with deep mud-welts from the haul-out tractors.

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 90’s the North Shore City Council sold this land. When local residents discovered the sale and the proposal by the new owners to build intensive housing development on it, the Council was overwhelmed 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 then the first step towards the transformation of Little Shoal Bay was the dismantling of Kon Tiki Motel and also 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)

With the reduction of the space available to the Little Shoal Bay Boat Owners Association this Bay now has a wonderful usable public space, with a great looking children’s playground and permanent adult fitness area plus a BBQ area and 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.

Today as I take a photo (the featured image) to send off to friends in Germany, to give them a little snapshot of Auckland at Christmastime I look at the scene through their eyes and wonder how I ever thought of this beautiful spot as the Ugly Boat Bay.


Images copyright Compendium Interactive Limited.

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