Observing Location - Symes Rd

Page Updated - 31st July 2004 

Symes Rd - Looking East

Plenty of room and no light disturbance along with very good skies makes Symes Rd a top 

place to do Deep Sky Observing with large telescopes

Symes Road, Maramarua Forest

Latitude 37o18'14" South Longitude 175o12'58" East

Why go that far??

With any telescope light pollution affects performance. Local conditions in Auckland are poor and is more frustrating if you have a larger instrument and are chasing faint hazy patches using adverted imagination. The skies and local conditions are very good for good deepsky observing.


We tend to ecourage people to arrive at the same time so as to minimise the disruption caused by people arriving all hours of the night. We also encourage equipment safety so be responsible with your driving in and out and use your lights to get your car in and out. Just be sensible with the lights as others may still wish to observe. If you are leaving and others are there, they will normally stop observing and have a chin wag or a cuppa or the obligatory 'V' and wait for you to leave. Generally people will assist you if need it.

If this sounds like you feel free to join us.

Symes Rd is exactly an hour south of my home in Mt Roskill, Auckland....little consequence if you don't live in the same street as me!! It is easier to say it is 30 minutes from the Drury interchange on the southern motorway. It also is an hour north of the the Pukete roundabout in Te Rapa, Hamilton, for those coming from the south.

Symes Road (Signposted Syme Rd, which is an error) was found to be an excellent spot for observing by Dave Brock and I back on the 2nd August 2002, as a spot we could meet with our telescopes that was halfway between Auckland and Hamilton. It is the major access road to the Maramarua Forest and has a gate which restricts access to the forest. Despite this it has a long flat gravel straight which could accommodate many scope and cars. See Picture Attached

There is no light from houses etc only the occasional headlight in the distance on Kopuku Rd. I have been here more than 10 times and Dave Moorhouse & Guy have been to Symes even more times.

While it takes an hour to get to the observing site it is very dark and an contrasty. Auckland still makes is presence felt by lighting up to about 30 degrees in altitude and northwest in azimuth. Little consequence really, as the Veil Nebula in Cygnus is good from this site despite the light polluted northwest. The site is not exposed to wind as such but it can get very cold. Ice has formed on telescopes here....so you need to dress accordingly.

As to conditions, the North Waikato is know for its fog. Despite this, the surrounding area may be in fog but Symes Rd will be clear, as it is fairly high. But do not be fooled, we have been fogged in at this site more than once, but not without hours of observing.

Getting to Symes Rd is easy.

Take State Highway 2 turnoff and head towards Waihi / Thames / Tauranga as if you were going to Waharau.

Instead of taking the Kaiaua / Miranda turnoff, travel another 4.6km past the Maramarua Golf Course and turnoff turn right into Kopuku Rd. If you go past the Pink Pig Diner you have gone too far.

On Kopuku Rd go straight ahead through a small intersection. Symes Rd is off Kopuku Road on the right about 5 minutes down Kopuku Rd.

The signpost is labeled Syme Rd. Symes Rd itself is tightly packed gravel road which goes towards the forest for about two km, until you come to a straight which concludes at a forestry gate.

Welcome to Symes Rd.

Map to Symes Rd