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Waitakere Ranges

Toronto, Canada
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Waitakere Ranges

I am planning on visiting in late September. On the vistor centre's website, it says the park is open from 10-5 in the winter months- can I be in the park past 5?

I am looking to do a good 2-3 hour hike to beautiful scenery (could be longer if worth it). I would like to see waterfalls, nice coastal scenery... any trail reccomendations?

Also, is it difficult to get to the Black sand beaches? I am thinking of Karekare beach- or open to other suggestions...

I will be coming from the Auckland aiport via car, is the park difficult to find?

Thanks again :)

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
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1. Re: Waitakere Ranges

Here's a good website to find out information on Auckland regional parks - Karekare included.


From the airport, the suburban layout to access the Scenic Drive to the West Coast beaches is a minefield, until the planned motorway linkages become a reality. Get a rental with navigational aid to direct you.

My personal favourite ARC (Auckland Regional Council) parks are all east coast, and on offshore islands - but Karekare has gained in popularity due to its filming location for "The Piano". Piha beach is a short distance away, by road.

Park rangers close the padlocked gates around the scheduled times - best not to leave your rental car in designated carparks beyond these hours if you have prearranged accomm outside the park boundary.

Auckland Central...
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2. Re: Waitakere Ranges

Hi again

The Arataki Visitors Centre Website is a bit misleading. The opening hours refer to the visitor centre itself. All the walking tracks and beaches are open 24/7 .

From the Visitor Centre the closest beaches are Karekare and Piha which are both accessible by road. From the Visitor Centre continue along Scenic Drive and then on to Piha Road, just past a restaurant on the right called Elevations from where incidentally, there good views back over Auckland. Once on Piha Road look out for Lone Kauri Road (about 10kms on the left from the junction of Scenic Drive and Piha Road). You can if you wish take Lone Kauri Road down to Karekare Beach. Alternatively you can carry on along Piha Road past the Lone Kauri Road turn off and after a couple of kms you can turn left down Karekare Road, known locally as the Cutting. Lone Kauri Road and Karekare Road in fact form a loop down. They are both narrow and twisty so keep well to the left and always be prepared for vehicles coming the other way. Karekare Beach is completely natural (apart from the car park) and there no commercial activity of any kind. It is a very special place.

To get to Piha Beach just carry on along Piha Road and you will go down the big hill on Piha Road down to Piha itself. Piha is more “developed” and has a shop where you can get very nice coffee and cakes, a library, camp ground, art gallery (worth a visit) and places to eat (The RSA – Returned Services Association, The Bowling Club and the Surf Club – hours vary a bit depending on the time of year). There is a north and south beach at Piha divided by the imposing Lion Rock.

On the way out along Piha Road you will pass Anawhata Road on the right. This as unsealed road which runs for between 10 and 15 kilometres to a small parking area from where you can walk down to Anawhata Beach. Anawhata Beach is one of the more remote beaches but the walk up and down is steep.

There are some 250 kms of tracks in the Waitakeres so there are plenty of options. You can get a map at the Visitor Centre – I replaced ours the other day and it was eight dollars. The tracks vary in difficulty from those which are “gravelled” and not too steep to those which are more “unkempt”and often very steep. In the Waitakere Ranges there are basically two directions “up and down” and “down and up”! I always reckon that it is best to do the up bits first leaving the down bits for the homeward stretch - so best to start from the beaches. Some suggestions:

Down at Karekare an easy and pleasant walk is to go up Watchman Road until you come out of the bush above the beach (nice view). Follow the track down to the beach and then head south along the beach and back to the car park via the Pohutakwa (native tree) Glade.

A very popular walk is from Karekare to Whatipu. Either go along the beach and back through the bush or the other way round. This is a longer walk which would take up to 5 hours.

My regular walk with our dogs is from Lion Rock at Piha along the north beach and then up the track to the headland from where you get a stunning view of Whites Beach, the next beach north of Piha which is only accessible on foot or by boat. There are two tracks down to Whites Beach – I would caution against the one closest to the sea as it very steep and involves walking across rocks at sea level which is dependent on the tide. I suggest that you keep heading up towards the ridge. You will pass a couple of houses and arrive at the Rose track which will take you up to Anawhata Road. The Ros track is a private road which the owners kindly allow the public to use. It is vehicle width, sealed and looks very steep but it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to get to the top. Once at the top turbn right along Anwhata Road and after about 20 metres go through the gate (again on to private land which the owners allow the public to cross) follow the White Track back down to Piha. This will will take between 2 and 3 hours and has a good mixture of bush, sea views and a couple of small streams.

For Waterfalls you have either the Karekare Falls at the bottom of Lone Kauri Road or the Kitekite Falls near Piha (Turn right into Glen Esk Road at the bottom of Piha Hill, and park at the end where there is a sign with a map showing the track up to the falls. Up to Kitekite Falls and back will take a bit under an hour but there are lots of ways of extending the walk.

To get from the Airport to the Waitakeres is not difficult – as this post is getting a bit long I will post some directions in a separate response. I also recommend Google Maps for sorting out routes

Hope this helps.

Auckland Central...
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3. Re: Waitakere Ranges

Hi again

Here are the directions from airport to Karekare and Piha - they are well proven and work well

When you leave the airport follow the signs to Auckland - stay on the main highway and you will eventually cross a bridge at the top of the Manukau Harbour. Take the first exit after the bridge on to Hillsborough Road and keep going straight for about 10 kilometres. You will come to a small roundabout at Blockhouse Bay. Go straight across the roundabout and continue down the hill until you come to a T Junction. Turn left at the T junction and follow the road through Green Bay until you come to another T junction. Turn left at the T junction into Titirangi Road and continue up the hill and you will come to the village of Titirangi - easily recognisable as it has a number of pavement cafes. Go past the cafes and shops (not many of them), past an old 3 or 4 storey building on the left (Lopdell House) and you will come to a roundabout with bush markers in the centre - (sculptures which look like oversized mushrooms/fungus). Take the second exit off the roundabout which is Scenic Drive. Follow Scenic Drive along about 1.5 kms of flat road and keep bearing right at the end of the flat section where Scenic Drive turns to the right uphill. Make sure you follow the road to the right and not straight on. From here just keep following Scenic Drive for 8 to 10 kms and look out for big blue road sign indicating Piha. This is near a restaurant on the right called Elevations. Just past Elevations you will turn off Scenic Drive on to Piha Road. Follow Piha Road for another 8 to 10 kms and look out for a sign which indicates Lone Kauri Road. Turn left into Lone Kauri Road and follow it for about 8kms and you will come to Karekare Beach. To get to Piha Beach just keep on Piha Road

Once you get past Titirangi you are in the country. Scenic Drive, Piha Road are quite twisty and Lone Kauri Road in particular is very twisty and very narrow so keep well to the left and always expect something to be coming the other way.

The alternative to the above is to follow the motorway system. You need to get on to the North West Motorway (SH16). Once on the NW motorway take the Great North Road exit (exit no 8), bear to the left and keep going straight. (Bear right at any obvious forks). You will eventually go past Avondale Race Course which is on the left and about a couple of Kms past the race course you will come to a large (by NZ standards) cross roads with traffic lights. On both sides of the road at the lights are hydroponic/indoor growing gardening shops. From the motorway to this junction is about 5kms. Go straight across at the junction - keep going straight and you will come to the village of Titirangi - then follow directions above.

Auckland Central...
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4. Re: Waitakere Ranges

Visit Arataki Info Centre, not really an info centre as it has so much more to offer. Drive the scenic drive, take a walk on one of the many walks and then head to the black sand beach of Muriwai. Here there is the world renowned gannet colony and a wonderful surf beach.

Buy fish and chips and sit on the beach to watch the sun set. This part of the world, so close to a large city is rugged and natural and very beautiful.


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5. Re: Waitakere Ranges

Hi not wanting to put you off driving yourself but our roads and traffic are not the best which is why people take the tours means you don't have to worry about driving and missing out on what you are here for the viewing.The tours will show you more in the shortest amount of time i would even consider doing a tour for Rotoura/Taupo.

Great to see you down here.

6. Re: Waitakere Ranges

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