Walking the Westend Track: Tawharanui Regional Park, Auckland.

Tawharanui Regional Park is situated on a peninsula in the Hauraki Gulf and combines farming, conservation and recreation in a ecological open sanctuary.

Tawharanui Regional Park is situated on a remote peninsula in the Hauraki Gulf and combines farming, conservation and recreation in a ecological open sanctuary. A pest eradication and planting programme and the reintroduction of native bird species means bird life is flourishing – you’ll see tui, pateke (brown teal), kereru (wood pigeons), piwakawaka (fantails) and hear bellbirds. In summer, the park is a popular spot for picnicking, swimming, recreational diving and camping. In winter, the park is quieter and the cool, still winter days are perfect for a walk to take in the wonderful views  – you may even have the beach to yourself!

On our visit we decided to walk the Westend Track. The walk is a gentle loop – the initial climb is along the gravel farm road and once on top, the track leads across the flat farmland towards the far western end of the park to the predator proof fence. The fence was built in 2004 in partnership with the Auckland Council and TOSSI (the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society) to keep predators (such as stoats, cats and rats) out of the sanctuary. TOSSI (and their volunteers) are active in the restoration of the coastal forest and wetlands within the park by growing and planting native species – and winter is planting season! If you are interested in being part of this special project there just happens to be a planting day this weekend, the 7th of July. Learn more on the TOSSI website.

From the fence, the Westend Track continues down the hill to the western end of Anchor Bay. It’s then a leisurely stroll along the beautiful beach back to the carpark. The walk is 6km long and takes about 1.5hrs but add a bit of time for shell collecting and rock pool exploring on the beach. In winter you’ll need good walking shoes – it can be a little wet underfoot across the paddocks. You could possibly take a buggy if the ground isn’t too wet, but it might be easier to carry the littler kids in a backpack. You’ll need water and some snacks and possibly a change of clothes for little beach explorers who may want to get wet. You can check the tides here (the rock pools are exposed at low tide) and weather here. It will take you about 1.5hrs to get to Tawharanui Regional Park from the Auckland CBD via Warkworth and Matakana. If you are passing through on a Saturday morning, Matakana has a lovely farmers market from 8am-1pm.

Learn more over at everywhereyougo.co.nz: our family travel and lifestyle site!