Earlier this year, before the weather turned sub-Antarctic and my motivation levels were actually at a measurable quantity, I used to grab the last whispers of daylight and jog up Maungawhau/Mt Eden, which looms across the motorway behind my Grafton flat. It was never not a breath-taking run; the sky would tear itself to fiery shreds in the way that only an Auckland sunset can, and a glow would begin to rise from beneath as the city’s artificial light slowly countered the gathering darkness. But at the very edge of this spectacle would lay an ominous behemoth of darkness; the Waitakere ranges. The odd beacon or twinkle was all but engulfed by the surrounding blackness of the monolithic hills, striking an imposing shade against the rivers of headlights and street lamps sprawling before it. They stood like dormant beasts; mysterious and full of secrets.
Mitch Smyth is making it his mission to uncover these secrets, along with other hidden pockets of adventure that are peppered around Auckland city. By day a content creator for social media/PR firm F-- USE, Mitch launched the Epic Little Missions website earlier this year, aiming to create a catalogue of just that – epic little missions that are surprisingly easy, accessible and otherwise unknown to your average Aucklander.
“Between [studying] and getting a real job, I needed something to do, and I noticed that on the council website they weren’t representing the walks all that well. I was looking to do some, and I couldn’t find the right information, so I just took it upon myself to start something.”
Mitch says a love of the outdoors has never been a defining feature for him, but discovering what the Auckland region had to offer by way of natural beauty meant blew him away. He reckons he’s blessed to live in New Zealand, and hopes Epic Little Missions helps more people to understand that.
“A lot of people don’t actually know how awesome and beautiful the outer regions of Auckland are. They’re in this little Auckland bubble and they don’t venture outside.”
It can be easy to feel like the limits of Auckland don’t surpass the walls of your lecture theatre, or that the circular dots on your panelled office roof have replaced the stars. But Epic Little Missions is a kind reminder that right on our doorstep lies a plethora of open spaces with plenty of breathing room, dense and lush bush to get lost in, and waterfalls straight out of a colour-saturated postcard. Mitch hunts the walks down via the council websites, and undertakes them once or twice a month, taking photos along the way. He then packages them up with a blurb, location and duration, then publishes them on the website, free for you to peruse and choose your next adventure.