If long challenging hikes aren’t your thing, but getting “off the beaten track” appeals to the creative voice within, there are plenty of satisfying short walks available in the Auckland region to suit.
One such walk is located at Anawhata, a tiny ridgetop community on Auckland’s wild west coast, reached within an easy 40 minute drive from downtown Auckland.
Anawhata is not hard to find, but you’ll need to consult a map if you’re unfamiliar with the region as the turnoff from Scenic Drive can be easy to miss when you’re driving.
Once on Anawhata Road, you’ll find yourself winding several kilometres along a narrow gravel road through regenerating native bush. You’ll see several signs posting the entrances to various tracks, but keep driving until you spot Craw’s Campground on the left hand side.
Neither the road nor the campground is suitable for large motorhomes, so this is a great place if you’re looking for a more tranquil place to tent overnight.
If you’re planning on staying the night here, you’ll need to check availability with the Auckland Council or Arataki Visitors Centre ahead of time as this campground is popular with trampers walking the newly formed Hilary Trail. They can also advise if any large group bookings have been made for the time you’re considering tenting.
A few hundred metres down from Craw’s Campground are the entrances to the beach access walks. The car park isn’t signposted but is fairly obvious, particularly on sunny Sunday afternoons, as you’ll spot a few cars whose occupants you’ll no doubt meet on the tracks.
White’s Beach -1 hr return to the carpark
The track starts as a 10-15 min walk down a local resident’s steep driveway, so make sure you stick to the well formed path and treat the area with respect. It is only out of their kindness that the public is able to easily reach this beautiful place.
At the end of the driveway, two tracks are clearly signposted – our choice was to the right, White’s Beach (to the left - a lovely track that takes walkers to North Piha that we’d walked last Summer).
The day we visited, the wind was up and the surf was flat, so we had the place to ourselves, bar one comedic couple we met on route who asked us if the store was open (when you visit, you’ll understand the joke).
The track meanders downhill towards the sea through some lovely regenerating bush and a small Pohutakawa grove that must be absolutely stunning over Christmas when in full bloom.
When we reached the sand dunes after a few minutes, I cursed myself for wearing my summer walking shoes (completely filled with sand!), but my discomfort was quickly forgotten when we hit hard ground on White’s Beach.
White’s Beach is a favourite location for environmental artists who create temporal sculptures from found objects – it’s easy to see why with this much inspiration on hand.
Overhead, flocks of Seagulls played in the headwinds and ahead of us, small seabirds plucked lunch from the bundles of seaweed the ocean had so kindly served up just minutes earlier.
Had it not been for the messy wind and threatening clouds overhead, we would have stayed much longer and lost ourselves in creating something from the shells, stones, and driftwood laid out in strange formations along the beach and adjoining sand dunes. Or maybe just found the words to express the things we were stuck on back at the office.
Well worth a visit, and, if it’s a lovely day, make sure you pack your swimming costume, towel, lunch, plenty of water and enough time to lose yourself in this awesome creative thinking zone.
Things you should know
There are no public bus services that take visitors here, so you'll need to have your own transport.
The climb back to the carpark is steep and requires some fitness to make the return walk enjoyable.
The total return walk to the Carpark will take no more than 1 hr.
If you'd like to stay overnight at Craw's Campground, make an advance booking through the Arataki Visitors Centre on Scenic Drive (easily found in google).