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Waitakere Ranges

A train rattles over timber bridges and through glowworm-filled tunnels, while black sand beaches, waterfalls and rain forest provide striking views for hikers.

The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is a 30-minute drive west of downtown Auckland. The 39,500 acres (15,985 hectares) of native forest are bordered by beaches to the west and the city to the east.

Explore the artistic hamlet of Titirangi, which has galleries and cafés, before continuing into the ranges to the Arataki Visitor Centre. Located on a ridge and guarded by an imposing Maori carving, the center is the gateway to this arresting landscape and a good place to get the latest information on guided tours, activities such as canyoning and horseback riding, and walking trail conditions.

The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park has trails for all fitness levels, from short walks dotted with information panels, to four-hour-long trails that wind their way through tranquil, birdsong-filled environments.

For the really adventurous, the Hillary Trail is a 47-mile (75-kilometer), four-day hike, with camping facilities dotted along the way. The trail is something of a pilgrimage for hiking enthusiasts. It starts at Arataki and winds down the coast to Huia Bay, before curving north to take in the stunning black sand beaches of the west coast.

Karekare was the beach featured in the 1993 film The Piano. Piha Beach is a popular surfing spot, but rips can make the beach unsafe for swimming, so it’s important to check with local surf clubs before venturing into the water.

A small railway, the Rain Forest Express, takes guided tours from Swanston on the edge of the ranges to a picnic area at Upper Nihotupu Dam. Keep an eye out for glowworms and weta (nocturnal insects) as you pass through caves and pipeline tunnels.

Take a wine-tasting tour around several vineyards in the Henderson Valley to try local wines and ports, and sample gourmet flavors in a winery restaurant.

The ranges are easily accessible by car. Come as a day trip from Auckland or spend the night at one of the bed-and-breakfasts, beach houses or hotels dotted along the coast and Scenic Drive.

You won't believe how much there is to do at Waitakere Ranges. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

If you're after more activities, check out our Auckland things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around Waitakere Ranges


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Waitakere Ranges

See all 101 Properties near Waitakere Ranges
Piha Beachstay - Hostel ¥7,417
Piha Beachstay - Hostel

Piha Beachstay - Hostel

38 Glenesk Road, Piha, Auckland
     
    2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated by the ocean, this hostel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Piha Surf School and Piha Beach. Waitakere Ranges and Karekare Beach are also within 6 mi (10 km).

    Romantic Piha
    Romantic Piha

    Romantic Piha

    105c Piha road, Piha
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in Piha, this beach apartment building is 0.8 mi (1.4 km) from Piha Surf School and 2 mi (3.2 km) from Piha Beach. Waitakere Ranges and Karekare Falls are also within 3 mi (5 km).

      Spectacular Hilltop Retreat near Piha
      Spectacular Hilltop Retreat near Piha

      Spectacular Hilltop Retreat near Piha

      23 Quinns Rd, Waiatarua, Auckland
         
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in Waiatarua, this vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Waitakere Ranges, Trusts Stadium, and Waitakere Golf Club. Karekare Beach and Piha Surf School are also within 9 mi (15 km).

        Miharo Bed & Breakfast
        Miharo Bed & Breakfast

        Miharo Bed & Breakfast

        12 Atarua Gardens, Waiatarua
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in Waiatarua, this bed & breakfast is within 12 mi (20 km) of Waitakere Ranges, Auckland Zoo, and Piha Beach. Trusts Stadium and Waitakere Golf Club are also within 12 mi (20 km).

          Bethells Beach Cottages ¥19,016
          Bethells Beach Cottages

          Bethells Beach Cottages

          267 Bethells Road, Bethells Beach
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated by the ocean, this vacation home is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Bethells Beach and within 12 mi (20 km) of Waitakere Golf Club and Babich Wines. Kerr Farm Wine is 12.2 mi (19.7 km) away.

            Maison de Rose ¥10,099
            Maison de Rose

            Maison de Rose

            18 Kitewaho Road, Swanson
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in Swanson, this apartment building is 2 mi (3.3 km) from Waitakere Golf Club and within 6 mi (10 km) of Babich Wines and Trusts Stadium. Bethells Beach and Soljans Estate are also within 9 mi (15 km).