Five ideas for a winter family walk

Publish Date : 01 Jun 2022
Arataki Visitor Centre

Five tips for taking a family stroll in winter

When it comes to trails, tracks and tramping, we truly are blessed here in Tāmaki Makaurau. But while it’s tempting to stay wrapped up inside during the chillier months, rounding up the family for a winter walk is well worth the effort. Together you can stay active, explore more of the Auckland region, meet new people, and spend quality time together.

1. Winter walks are the ideal way to beat the winter blues

Whether it is a crisp, clear, still day, or a wild West Coast kind of day, going for a walk in winter is invigorating and a great way to banish the blues. Even a brisk 10-minute walk can improve your mood. Getting moving is guaranteed to put a spring in your step, especially with the abundance of gorgeous views on our doorstep.

Plus, with the sun setting earlier at this time of year, you can enjoy catching sunsets at the end of your walk without staying out particularly late.

2. Wonderful winter walks

There are dozens of paths to choose from, whether you want something remote or closer to home, and here are four great ideas you may not have come across.

Musick Point overlooking the sea

Musick Point

  1. Mercer Bay Path is a stunning coastal walk and is perfect for a family adventure. The windswept west coast feels even more wild and dramatic during winter. This loop path takes just under an hour to complete, but make sure you factor in some time to stop and take in the stunning views, particularly at the lookout below the pou of Te Ahua o Hinerangi. Starting at the track entrance at the southern side of the car park, the path is best enjoyed in a clockwise direction. Be sure to follow the instructions at the cleaning stations to help protect the kauri trees.
  2. Enjoy a scenic bush walk on the Beveridge to Arataki path, which connects Exhibition Drive with the Arataki Visitor Centre, where you can take in stunning high-level views over the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park. It’s a shared path, so walkers and cyclists alike should be on the lookout for one another, and it takes roughly an hour to walk this 3.5-kilometre trail.
  3. A hit with the locals, check out the serene and family-friendly Wattle Downs North Path, which runs along the northern coastline of the Wattle Downs peninsula. Mostly flat, pushchair-friendly and with a playground halfway along the two-kilometre path, it’s ideal for a morning or an afternoon outing with the whānau. The path is also great for spotting wading birds including tōrea (oystercatcher) and white-faced heron.
  4. A walk to Musick Point rewards you with outstanding elevated views over the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. It will take you roughly an hour to reach the end of the trail - or around 30 minutes if you’re on two wheels. There is no separate footpath, so take care of vehicles or wayward balls from the neighbouring Howick Golf Course. As well as the panoramic vistas, you’ll come away with a history lesson thanks to the former radio transmission station which played an important role in the South Pacific campaign during the Second World War. But there are even more secrets hidden away here, so check it out and all will be revealed.

3. What to wear and what to pack

Make sure everyone has enough layers, including a raincoat. If you get wet, you can get cold – quickly. You’ll need a warm outer layer for when you stop for breaks or snacks. You’ll warm up when walking but cool down fast while stopped. Avoid wearing cotton, as this gets cold when wet.

Wear sturdy footwear in case of slippery or muddy tracks.

Make sure you pack plenty of snacks and water for everyone, as well as sunscreen – you can still get sunburned in winter!

4. Planning your winter walk

First up, check the weather - even if the sun is shining before you set off. As we all know, Auckland weather can turn very quickly, so it’s important to be prepared and know what to expect.

Shorter days mean you’ll need to plan your time carefully. Check how long it will take to complete the trip and allow plenty of time for lunch and rest stops. Make sure you have time to finish the walk in daylight and be prepared to turn back if sunset is approaching.

Wet weather can make tracks slippery and cause streams to rise, so read the track description carefully to check for hazards like stream crossings.

For more tips on staying safe in our regional parks, read up on what our rangers recommend. 

5. Why it's good to find a walking or tramping community near you

Sometimes being social is the motivation you need to get outdoors in winter. Joining a tramping club means you benefit from going for walks with people with plenty of experience. If you’re not confident or still learning about walking in winter, it’s great for learning more about safety skills. Auckland has a number of different walking clubs ranging from the adventurous to those more focused on flora and fauna.

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