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Come to the dark side - summer walks in the shade

Last Updated : 14 Feb 2024
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Beat the heat while exercising under the leafy canopy in Auckland’s oldest park, Pukekawa Auckland Domain.
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When the heat is on and it’s sweltering outside but you want to go for a walk or a run, there’s nothing like the refreshing coolness of a tree-lined path.

Sure you can head to an air-conditioned gym, but trees are the classic air conditioners. Temperatures are predicted to be higher than normal this summer, so check out these cool paths for staying active on the dark side.

Pukekawa / Auckland Domain

Pukekawa / Auckland Domain has many tree-lined paths where you can pound the pavement or amble along with a friend.

The 1.6km loop of Pukekawa Centennial Glade Path starts at the lower domain at 93 Stanley Street and takes you past native bush, including an avenue of pōhutukawa. The scoria-red concrete path is sealed all the way, making it a good option if you’re pushing a buggy.

The coolest spots are where ferns grow. The fernery at Pukekawa Auckland Domain’s Wintergarden is built on the site of a former quarry.

The coolest spots are where ferns grow. The fernery at Pukekawa Auckland Domain’s Wintergarden is built on the site of a former quarry.

If you’re going on a family walk, keep your kids engaged by making it a sculpture scavenger hunt. There are three to spot on the path: Louise Purvis’ Promise Boat, Chiara Corbelletto’s Numbers are the Language of Nature and Charlotte Fisher’s Arc. The walk ends up at the duck pond where you can get an ice cream at the kiosk.

Afterwards, head to the Domain Wintergardens with its two Victorian glasshouses – walk through the central courtyard, veer past the statue of the King of the Cats and you’ll discover another delightfully cool spot in the fernery, a small green grotto of New Zealand natives on the site of an old quarry.

For more of a bushwalk, the Pukekawa Trail Lovers Path takes you along a secluded gravel track surrounded by established native bush, and includes a boardwalk over a stream as well as a small stone bridge.

Exhibition Drive Track, Waitākere

A couple of minutes’ drive from the Titirangi shops, this bush-lined 6km walk out west starts at the intersection of Woodlands Park Road and Scenic Drive. The gravel track is fairly flat, which is great if you’re building up your fitness or just feel like an easy amble. Along the way you’ll see young nīkau and other native bush. When you reach the end you’ll be treated to stunning views over Lower Nihotupu Reservoir and Manukau Harbour.

Alice Eaves Bush Path, Ōrewa

Of course Ōrewa is known for its iconic beach, but this path gives you the opportunity to shelter in the shade of some towering giants, aka majestic kauri. The bush trail is part of the wider 16ha Alice Eaves Scenic Reserve which is a remnant of a coastal kauri and broadleaf forest at the northern end of Ōrewa Beach. The gravel path includes a lot of steps, making it a good cardio workout, but at 1km long it’s also achievable. At the lookout you’ll see kauri that are 50m high.

Cascade Walk, Waiheke Island

Waiheke Islanders and day trippers are spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning beaches, but if you’re looking for the dappled light of a cool forest setting, head to Whakanewha Regional Park. Starting at the Sculpture Carpark on Gordons Road, the 2.5km Cascade Walk takes you through an impressive nīkau forest to the gently flowing Cascades Stream, which features a series of small waterfalls. The tracks are predominantly gravel and dirt but they’re well maintained, which is perfect for jogging.

Puhinui Stream Forest Path, Manurewa

If you’ve explored your heart out at the Auckland Botanic Gardens and are looking for a new walk or run in the area, the Puhinui Stream Forest Path links the Gardens with the adjacent Tōtara Park. It winds its way along Puhinui Stream and is one of the finest examples of a lowland broadleaf conifer forest remnant in the area. You can dip in or dip out where you like, but the full trail is a 4km loop. Dogs must be on leads but if you continue on to the Auckland Botanic Gardens, the path comes out very close to the off-leash dog exercise area there.

Point View Bush Path, East Tāmaki

If you’re looking for some cardio climbs under the canopy, this path in Point View Reserve, is a haven of regenerating native bush, including pūriri, tōtara, rimu and kahikatea, with native birdsong included! There are open areas of countryside on the 1.4km walk, but there’s always a tree nearby if you need to stop and borrow some shade.

Pockets of native bush make Point View Bush Path in East Tāmaki a haven for native birdlife.

Pockets of native bush make Point View Bush Path in East Tāmaki a haven for native birdlife.

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