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The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park covers 28 square kilometres of native forest, rivers and beaches along the western coastline of Auckland. It is one of 22 conservation parks within easy reach of the city's centre.
There are more than 250 kilometres of walking tracks waiting to be explored in the ranges. The tracks range from 10 minute strolls to multi-day hikes over mountains, through river valleys and along wild deserted beaches.
One of the best places to start is the Arataki Visitor Centre, just 25 minutes drive from Auckland's central business district. To find Arataki, head west to the artistic village of Titirangi and pause for a great coffee in one of several cafés. Continue driving for five kilometres along the appropriately named Scenic Drive. The ridge-top visitor centre has some magnificent Maori carvings, including an 11 metre high pou (guarding post). A walkway through the tree tops offers panoramic views across the forest to reservoir lakes and the ocean. Informative displays, a multimedia presentation and the knowledgeable park staff will help you to get the most from your time in this scenic area.
Across the road from the Arataki Visitor Centre is a one hour nature trail. This easy walk leads you through regenerating and mature forest to a grove of large kauri trees. Information panels along the way explain the features and traditional uses of the wide variety of native trees.
Along the park's ocean boundary are the west coast surf beaches of Whatipu, Karekare, Piha, Bethells and Muriwai. Towering cliff headlands, huge black sand dunes and thundering surf make these beaches unforgettable.