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Need a bush fix? Here are some Waitākere alternatives

Published: 19 December 2017

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Need a bush fix? Here are some Waitākere alternatives.

If you love the bush, there are heaps of places you can go in Auckland.

The Waitākere Ranges Regional Park is one of the most popular destinations, with its native bush and back country activities, but while the rāhui and track closures are in place we all need to do our bit to protect kauri.

One of the ways we can do this is by finding alternatives for our summer adventures – there’s heaps out there!

“Even though some of the kauri areas are still open, we encourage people to look at other options across Auckland,” says Auckland Council’s Regional Parks Manager Rachel Kelleher. 

“If you’re considering a trip out to the Waitākeres this summer, please only go in the areas that are currently open and remember to stop, spray, scrub, and stay on tracks,” she says.

Better yet, why not check out one of our other parks? Auckland has more than 4000 parks across the region, so we are spoilt for choice. Here are some alternatives you can visit this summer.

For a bush walk

If you’re looking for a wild New Zealand nature experience, go bush at the Auckland Botanic Gardens. Take a walk alongside streams, through beautiful nīkau palm and tree fern groves in the Native Forest trail.   

The Native Forest is also home to mature rimu, kahikatea, miro, matai, tōtara and 170 other native plant species.

There are multiple entry points to the trail and different options for short or long walks. The full trail is 4km and will lead you on a loop of the whole forest area – this takes about two hours at a leisurely pace.

While you’re at it, make sure you check out Sculpture in the Gardens – a 2km sculpture trail at the Auckland Botanic Gardens on display until 25 February 2018. It’s free, perfect for the whole family and most of the trail is accessible for wheelchair users, pushchairs and mobility scooters.

For a trail run

Check out the Heritage Trail at Shakespear Regional Park. The trail begins at the Waterfall Gully car park and takes you past historic sites, a WWII gun emplacement, through native forest, over farmland and offers spectacular views of Auckland. The trail is 4km and signposted with yellow markers.

For orienteering

Put your navigational skills to the test at Duder Regional Park and make your way around 148ha of coastal parkland. Duder is located on the pōhutukawa-fringed Whakakaiwhara Peninsula, which cuts out into the Tāmaki Strait. You may feel like you’re on your own island, thanks to 360-degree views across the Brookby/Maraetai hills, the Hunua Ranges and Hauraki Gulf islands.

For bird-watching

Wenderholm is great for birding, with kererū and tūī plentiful and easy to spot. In the forested areas you may be lucky enough to spot fantail and the occasional morepork. Grey warblers are often heard singing in the trees. Shorebirds such as oystercatchers and the rare and endangered dotterel also make their home in this park.

For tramping

Put your fitness to the test on the Waharau Ridge Track at Waharau Regional Park. The 14km track loops through both regenerating and mature forest. Stop for a picnic on the main ridge and take in the panoramic views over the Firth of Thames. Follow the red markers. For extra distance try the Upper and Lower Link tracks as well.

Remember to stop at the designated cleaning stations, spray and scrub your shoes and gear, and stay on the track.

For black sand

Journey down south to Karioitahi Beach; this wild west coast gem is worth the drive. On your way there or back, head over to Āwhitu Regional Park or climb the Manukau Heads Lighthouse.

For the ultimate family day out

Round up the kids and head to Waitawa Regional Park between Clevedon and Kawakawa Bay. Waitawa has a focus on recreation with walking, trail running, horse riding and mountain biking tracks throughout the park.

Take the short walk to the Pāwhetau headland for spectacular vistas towards Pakihi and Ponui Islands. Bring your frisbees for a round of disc golf or try to catch lunch off the Waitawa Wharf.