Breadcrumb navigation

Looking for some Waitākere alternatives? 

Published: 16 December 2019

If you want to go bush this weekend, there are heaps of places you can go.

West Auckland is home to some of the best bush experiences in the region but while the forested areas in the Waitākere Ranges and some higher-risk tracks in the Hunua Ranges are closed to help keep our kauri standing (visit for more info), we all need to find alternatives for our outdoorsy adventures.

With more than 4000 parks across the region – there are heaps of alternatives out there!

Here’s some for you to check out:

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 or check out the stunning Sculpture in the Gardens.   

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. 

For a trail run

Check out the Shakespear Heritage Path 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 black sand

Journey down south to Karioitahi Beach; this wild west coast gem is worth the drive. On your way there or back, make sure you check out the Manukau Heads Lighthouse and the Āwhitu Regional Park, located on the inner Manukau harbour, where you can finish the day with a cool, relaxing swim at Kauritūtahi Beach.

For a coastal walk

Take in the spectacular views across the Waitemata Harbour towards the city centre along Te Atatū Peninsula Harbourside walkway. The walkway is an easy 3km stroll that gives you plenty of opportunities to spot native birds like dotterel, pūkeko and tōrea (oystercatchers) along the way.

Make sure to take care around wildlife, including leopard seals. Find out more

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. 

Keep our kauri standing

Kauri dieback in Auckland is a serious problem and it’s important we all play our part to prevent the spread of the disease.

If you enter or leave a forest/area with native trees anywhere across the region, here are three easy steps you need to remember:

  • Scrub– clean all soil off your footwear and gear.
  • Spray– your footwear and gear with disinfectant at every cleaning station you encounter. Kauri dieback can be spread by just a pinhead of soil.
  • Stay– on track and off kauri roots.

Always check the Auckland Council kauri webpage before going for a walk to find out what tracks are currently closed. 


Step Out for IDFNZ (Immune Deficiencies Foundation NZ)

Step out in support of IDFNZ at this fundraising fun run/walk.

10 parks to explore in Auckland's city centre

Look after your well-being and make the most of Parks Week with our pick of Auckland's city centre parks.

‘Here comes the sun’ glitters at Glover Park

Movies and Music in Parks count down their summer-long season