Waitakere Range Regional Park., Auckland Region
Piha Beach is situated at the end of Piha Road going through dense native bush.
Suddenly the road winds down to the coast. There are wonderful views over Piha Beach, divided through the huge 100 metres high Lion Rock. There is a track to the top with a splendid view over the coastline.
Piha Beach is famous for the never ending swells of the Tasman Sea on the wild west coast of New Zealand and an excellent place for surfing.
The black sanded (iron) beach might be very hot when the sun is shining in the summer. It is dangerous to swim at Piha Beach. Take care !!
There are two more beaches - Karekare and Anawhata - which can be accessed from Piha Road.
There are camping facilities at Piha (see website).
This large Park, 16,000 hectares plus, is wild and wonderful, to the West of Auckland. Plenty of forest, bush and 250km of walking tracks. There is something for everyone to do here.
Walking, Tramping, Picnicking, Swimming, Photography.
I advise that you visit the Arataki Visitor Centre, just 10 mins out of Titirangi on Scenic Drive. Here you can find out information to make your visit to the Park more interesting and worthwhile. As well, you can enjoy the nice views from the decks here.
Arataki Vistor Centre is an ‘obliged’ starting point before visiting Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.
Everything you want to know about this ‘city forest’ you can get from the staff of the centre. If you are planning a walk or hike, just buy the Recreation and Track Guide.
Inside you find information about the history, flora and fauna of the region. And also some huge beautiful carved Maori guardian posts (‘pou’ in Maori language).
Outside, just opposite the building, start three nature loop trails through the dense forest.
There is a magnificent view over the Ranges and downtown Auckland.
Starting in the township of Titirangi follow Huia Road; soon you will have views over Manukau Harbour. Make a detour to Cornwallis with its wharf. Everywhere along the road tracks and viewing points.
Huia has a Settlers Museum (for openinghours see website below ) and you can take a visit to the dam of the Lower Huia Reservoir. After this (last) township Whatipu Road turns into a narrow winding gravel road.
Be careful !!
On your right hand is a road to Mt. Donald McLean, one of the highest peaks in the Ranges, accessible over a rather steep walk.
At the end of the road, next to the car park, is Whatipu Lodge. These old wooden buildings nowadays offer some accommodation on this very remote place, just 30 km’s from downtown Auckland. There is also a small shop for some refreshments.
Make a walk on the wild beach and trough the swampland along Abel Tasman Sea.
If visiting Auckland, just take your walking boots with you. In Waitakere Ranges Regional Park you will find about 150 walks and tracks: easy, difficult, short, long, along the coastline and through native bush and along cascades.
We walked a couple and one of them was the so called 'Auckland City Walk'. This walk starts from the car park on Falls Road and follows the Waitakere Stream through forest with even some kauri’s. It is about 1,5 km and will take less than 1 hour.
Karekare Beach is situated in the middle of the Waitakere Ranges on the wild west coast.
It is a small beach with real dunes and black volcanic sands. The native rainforest of the Waitakere Ranges reaches to the beach on rugged hills. During summer (December) we found a lot of impressive red flowered Pohutukawa's along a short track from the car park.
Karekare Beach was the location for the movie 'The Piano'.
The most beautiful way to reach Karekare is to take the Lone Kauri Road. This is a very windy road trough the dense green rainforest. After a steep descent with great views on the beach and Tasman Sea you will reach the car park for the beach.
Piha has a lot more to offer than just the famous surf beach. It is also starting point for several tracks through the Waitakere Ranges.
We did for instance the so called 'Kitekite Track'. The level metalled track follows the Glen Esk Stream through the green and beautiful native forest. There are information boards which tell the story of the kauri logging in the older days.
The track follows the the stream and after a rather steep ascend ends more or less at the foot of the Kitekite Falls with a small pool in front (brrrrrrrrr..). We had to cross the stream and found our way back on the other side of the river along a lot of kauri trees, among them some very tiny ones; if you see these it is unbelievable they grow into huge impressive trees with a girth of more than 10 metres.
All together a nice walk of about 1 hour.
Perhaps one of the most remoted beaches in New Zealand, although situated less than 1 hour drive from downtown Auckland.
From Piha Road we took the Anawhata Road, a gravel road through the dense forests of the Waitakere Ranges, passes some houses and enjoyed the spectacular view to Piha Beach before reaching a small car park. There starts a rather steep walking track ( about 700 metres) through a valley, crosses some dunes and finally you will have the beach for yourself !!!
See the beach where the Piano was filmed. Just a short 45min or so drive from Auckland CBD in the stunning Waitakere Ranges is Karekare. Beautiful black sand beach set in from dramatic cliffs and stunning scenery.