Out beyond the city of Auckland, and away from the myriad of golden beaches and islands, you’ll find the Waitakere Ranges. New Zealand is amazing partly in thanks to the diversity of scenery that you can discover all within a short drive in your hire car, and this regional park is a perfect example. Only 40 minutes out of New Zealand’s largest city you’ll find a landscape of rugged coastlines, waterfalls, black-sand beaches and native bush. 

With 16,000 hectares of natural New Zealand on offer, it’s not surprising that there’s more than 250 km of walking tracks to choose from. To help you choose, we’ve collated five of our favourites as well as some general notes to ensure these ranges are preserved for future generations. 

Kauri dieback

New Zealand is home to some of the most ancient trees in the world. The native Kauri can live for over 2,000 years, growing to a towering 50 m of height with a girth of up to 16 m. Understandably precious, both for the heritage and for the species that depend on the Kauri, protecting these giants is essential. 

Unfortunately, they are under threat from the Kauri dieback disease. Needing only a pinhead of soil to spread, Kauri dieback could risk the survival of the trees. Preventing it from reaching them is vital, and an action anyone who wishes to enjoy New Zealand’s native bush needs to take part in. Before entering the Waitakere Ranges make sure your shoes and gear is clean and clear of any soil or mud that might carry the disease, don’t stray from the tracks themselves and make use of the phytosanitary stations available when you see them. This small and quick action can help the mighty Kauri live for hundreds of years more. 

With that in mind here are four great tracks you can explore. 

Arataki Nature Trail (Upper Loop)

Offering a variety of lookouts to enjoy, this nature trail is right opposite the visitor centre. You’ll find information boards teaching you more about Kauri trees, and the viewing decks provide extensive views of the dramatic Waitakere coast. 

The Te Henga Walking Track 

Stretching from Bethells beach to Muriwai beach, this track will give you your fix of fresh ocean air and nature. It traverses along cliff tops and provides views of the ocean, dunes, local wildlife and lagoons. Be prepared for something a little more challenging, but expect the rewards to be worth it!

Karekare Falls

This one is more of a short wander, but the falls that cascade in a sheet down mossy rocks makes it unmissable. Following the water down, you’ll find a beach paired with black sand dunes to explore. 

Whatipu Caves

Taking up only approximately 50 minutes of your time, this track takes you to see several sea caves as well as New Zealand wetland. Once upon a time, formal dances were once held in these stone halls and if you listen closely you might just hear strains of the music still echoing through the caves…

If you’d like to go explore the wilderness of the Waitakere Ranges, book your hire car from Auckland airport today.