With over 250 kilometers of trails to explore, ranging from easy walks to backpacking in the backcountry, the Waitakere Ranges are a prime place for hiking adventures. One beautiful, not-too-difficult hike is to Kitekite (or Ketekete) Falls. Several walks begin at the same trailhead, but the one to Kitekite Falls has the best outcome. Through native forest, along a burbling stream, listening and/or viewing the native birds, it is a pleasant, peaceful walk and a good way to stretch the legs and clear the cobwebs out of your head.
Kitekite Falls is an interesting site in that at the top of the falls, you can see notches in the rocks where the old Glen Esk Dam was located. The dam was a Kauri dam, a common type that was used during the west coast's logging boom. Dams were built on streams to build up a reservoir that would provide the force to drive cut logs down stream once the dam was released. At Kitekite Falls, the first attempt to drive logs down the falls resulted in their destruction on the rocks below. That method of driving logs from the top of the falls was abandoned and from then on, the dam was only used to flush the logs waiting in the stream below down to the mill.
A nice little interpetive walk begins near the Arataki Visitor Center just outside of Titirangi. The nature trail is 1.6km long and takes about 1 hour to walk, if you're slow and reading the names of all the plants and trees on the helpful signs. The track features both regenerating and mature forest, including large kauri trees and viewpoints. And if you're a forestry or plant nerd, ask the park ranger at the Centre for an illustrated guide to the common trees and plants you can see in the Waitakere Ranges.
A few miles further north is Piha. This is considerably (relatively speaking) more developed than Karekare - a couple of shops, a campsite and a small hotel.
The beach here is glorious and you can walk for miles.
The volcanic black sands are 40% iron ore - impossible to walk on at the height of summer without some kind of footwear.
Its splendidly isolated, only the occasional surfer. But there are also beauifully isolated and quite spots.
Don't miss taking a drive out to the coast and see the wild sea and black iron sand. These friends are at Bethells Beach, but there are many beaches along the coast.