Looking for some Waitākere alternatives? 

Last Updated : 20 Dec 2021

If you want to heed that call of the wild 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 large parts of 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 plenty 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.  

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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 birdwatching 

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.  

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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  

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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.  

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