Insiders’ guide to walks and trekking
Auckland is a walker’s dream. With endless hiking tracks within a few hours of the city in all directions, the hardest part is choosing which one to tackle first.
From volcanic terrain to lush forestland and sandy coastal tracks, walking is one of the best ways to enjoy Auckland sightseeing, and even has plenty to offer for those involved in birding as well.
Here are a handful of unforgettable walking tracks you can enjoy on day tours from Auckland.
The Waitakere Ranges are situated about 40 minutes to the west of Auckland, making for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. As such, this is one of the most visited Auckland tourist attractions.
All together, there are more than 16,000 hectares of wild coastline and native forestland to discover and explore at this regional park. Woven amongst the area is roughly 250 kilometres of hiking trails, all decorated with spectacular waterfalls, cliffs, beaches, and vistas.
There are short one and two hour walks, as well as the famous four-day Hillary Trail for serious trampers, and everything in between. Some of the most popular sites are the waterfalls, such as Fairy Falls, KiteKite Falls and KareKare Falls. Plus, the beaches are famous in their own right, such as Piha Beach, which is especially well-known for its temperamental surf.
Tawharanui Regional Park is known for its wetlands, white beaches, softly undulating hills and native coastal forest – and in and amongst all that, its walking tracks. The park is located about an hour north of Auckland on the east coast by Warkworth on a small peninsula outcropping from the mainland.
The Tawharanui Ecology Trail is a popular spot for eco tours, as this 4 kilometre (return) walk is very quick and easy, taking between one and two hours, and includes some of New Zealand’s most iconic and important scenes. It’s one of the country’s best bird watching tours as it’s rich in birdlife such as the New Zealand Dotterel, the kaka and the rare brown teal.
Another fantastic walk is the Tawharanui Ridge Walk, which is a longer trek at 10 kilometres that offers picturesque views of Whangaparoa Bay. It will take you roughly four hours to complete this round trip as you traverse over high rocky cliffs and gorgeous grassy farm tracks.
Much of Auckland’s landscape is built on dormant volcanoes, which makes for a variety of incredible walking tracks.
Rangitoto is the newest volcano in the area, having erupted just 600 years ago. You can take a quick 25-minute ferry ride to this island volcano from downtown Auckland any day of the week. Once there, you can walk one hour from the ferry wharf to the summit at 259 metres above sea level, or you can visit the Lava Caves Track or the Wilson Park Track for longer routes around the island.
Mt Eden is a centrally located volcano, and the highest in the city, making for a quick and challenging steep hike. There are four walks around its sides and summit, each taking approximately just 40 minutes and offering fantastic views of the city.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist