One of the common geographical features of many airports is that they are located in areas near the edge of oceans, bays and lakes. One person’s mudflats are another’s wetlands; flat, isolated, easy to fill in to build runways, with expansive approaches over the open water. So, all over the world you find airports and hotels built close to coastal wetland with convenient access to nice running routes. Some of my favorite airport hotel running routes are in bird sanctuaries or nature reserves, like near ICN in Incheon, Republic of Korea, SFO built along San Francisco Bay and London Heathrow’s Causeway Nature Reserve.
One of the best places to run near an airport is at Auckland’s AUK airport, located near Ambury Regional Park and the Watercare Coastal Walkway, offering kilometers of excellent surface trails through an area rich in wildlife.
So, if you have to layover in Auckland and are looking for a place to stay near the airport and get in a good run, I have a suggestion based on my recent experience. This week, while flying from Samoa through Auckland to Perth and beyond, I had a sixteen hour break between flights. Here is my recommendation.
First of all, I like the Gold Star Motel, located about two kilometers from the airport. Reasonably priced and if you contact Rod Mould, the manager, it is possible to arrange an airport pickup. Both times I have used this service recently (at 7:00 am and 1:00 am in the morning) they were there to pick me up within ten minutes of my call. If you book in to the Gold Star, tell them that I sent you. Here are the details for booking at the Gold Star:
AIRPORT GOLD STAR MOTEL
255 Kirkbride Road
Phone: +64 9 275 8199
Fax: +64 9 275 3474
Toll-free: 0800 80 20 90
Conveniently right next to the motel is a convenience store. They have enough groceries that you can heat up in the little kitchenette in the Gold Star room. And, if you ask, they have good frozen lamb roti that they will microwave. Very tasty.
Here is a good 15.5 km run from the Gold Star Motel.
The route starts off on city streets for the first few km on the way out towards the Otuataua Stonefields, but there are either sidewalks or a good shoulder. At the furthest southern tip of the route, turn into the opening of the Watercare Coastal Walkway. There is an adequate restroom here at the gate.
The route then turns north along the the bay. It is a great running surface.. groomed fine gravel.
The best part is that the area is rich in birdlife. There are black swans, coots, ducks and a number of other New Zealand bird species that I couldn’t identify. Here is a shot of a duck with ducklings.
The path runs past a water treatment plant but it isn’t smelly or even noticeable since the landscaping has been done to hide it from the trail.
This route goes through Ambury Regional Park and then heads back towards the motel on city streets with good sidewalks and light traffic.
There is nothing like getting in a good run after or before a long flight. This is a great option if you are flying through Auckland.