With native rainforests, beautiful regional parks, stunning beaches, and hundreds of walking trails, the whole region is a nature lover's paradise.
The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park has more than 250 kilometres of walking and hiking tracks and is home to lush rainforest, gushing waterfalls, rugged coastline and wild black-sand beaches. Just 40 minutes from the city, the Waitakere Ranges offer a number of exciting activities including canyoning and surfing.
Stop in for a visit at Arataki Visitor Centre to learn about the area and pick up walking maps, or head straight to one of the spectacular black-sand beaches, which include Piha, Bethell’s and Karekare. If you just want to sit back, relax and take in the scenery, join a guided tour that reveals the natural splendour of the rainforest, learn about the native flora and fauna and experience the wild and rugged coastline.
A little further north on the west coast, Muriwai beach's pounding waves draw surfers all year round, while keen horse riders enjoy galloping across the sand. The neighbouring cliff tops are home to impressive gannet colonies, where around 1200 pairs of gannet nest from August to March.
Nearby Woodhill Forest is a stunning natural playground for adventure lovers. Tear up the tracks on a quad biking safari, tackle some of Auckland’s best mountain bike tracks, swing through the treetops at the tree adventure park or simply enjoy a gentle stroll on foot.
Before you go...
A number of tracks in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park have been closed to help prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease. For more information, see the Auckland Council website(opens in new window).
You’re never far from the sea in Auckland. On the east coast and heading north, you’ll find an abundance of golden beaches including the beautiful clear waters of Tawharanui and Pakiri. Or you can head to the wild black-sand beaches on the west coast, stretched along the edge of the Waitakere Ranges.
If you’re looking for a beach near the city centre, visit Mission Bay, Kohimarama or St Heliers – each is just a short drive or bus ride away. Here you’ll find vibrant beachfront promenades, eateries and shops. Take a dip in the water or try kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. Or join the fitness fans along Tamaki Drive with jogging, walking, rollerblading and cycling.
Alternatively you can hop over to visit the charming seaside village of Devonport on the quick ferry from downtown Auckland.
Visit Tiritiri Matangi Island’s open wildlife sanctuary, one of the world’s most successful conservation projects and home to many of New Zealand’s rarest native bird species. It’s perfect for a day trip - take a ferry across to the island from downtown Auckland and join a guided walk to explore the tracks and see the wildlife in the island’s open sanctuary.
It’s a great chance to spot New Zealand’s fascinating birdlife – check out the nesting boxes for little blue penguins, and keep your eyes and ears open for bellbirds, stitchbirds, robins and kokakos. You can also enjoy a swim and picnic at the tranquil Hobbs Beach, just a 10 minute walk from the main wharf. Visit the historical lighthouse built in 1864, the oldest working lighthouse in New Zealand.
The spectacular Hunua Regional Park is less than an hour’s drive south east of the city centre, covering some 400 square kilometres of land with pristine forest and is home to more than 450 species of plants. There are a variety of tracks for walking, horse riding and mountain biking for all levels, including an easy valley loop, and trout fishing is permitted from the dam face. The beautiful Hunua Falls, at 30 metres high, are one of the most popular spots and can be accessed easily from the carpark.