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Covering a staggering 15,985 hectares, the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is just 30 minutes by car from Auckland city centre. The western edge of the park is bordered by beaches, while the eastern edge moves towards the city.
Stop off in the suburb of Titirangi for lunch and maybe a wander around one of the galleries, before heading right on to the Arataki Visitor Centre. This is the entrance point to the regional park and is worth a visit to check out offers on tours, tramping conditions and available activities, such as canyoning or horse riding.
The trails in the park vary in difficulty, with something to suit all ages and levels of fitness. With everything from short signposted walks, to full-blown treks, it's up to you to decide what you're able for. For those who take their tramping seriously, there's the well-known Hillary Trail, a 75-kilometre, 4-day route with camping grounds along the way. Starting in Arataki, it winds through the regional park, eventually emerging amid the black sand beaches of the west coast; you may recognise Karekare Beach from the 90s film "The Piano", while Piha, with its dramatic crashing waves, is known as the country's most famous surf beach.
The small Rain Forest Express train carries visitors from Swanston to a popular picnic area at Upper Nihotupu Dam via a series of caves and tunnels. Watch out for weta and glow-worms in the dark along the way!
If, after all that wild nature, you fancy something a little more civilised, you could drive to Henderson Valley for a wine-tasting tour. Sample the local wines accompanied by some fine gourmet food for a satisfying end to a perfect day.
The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is easy to get to by car from Auckland. The area is close enough for an eventful day trip, while also boasting a wealth of accommodation options for those eager to stay a little longer.
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.
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 miles (10 km).
Situated by the ocean, this hotel is 6.6 mi (10.7 km) from Waitakere Ranges and 11.5 mi (18.5 km) from Piha Beach. Unitec Institute of Technology and Western Springs Stadium are also within 16 mi (25 km).
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 miles (5 km).
Situated in Waiatarua, this holiday home is within 9 miles (15 km) of Waitakere Ranges, Trusts Stadium and Waitakere Golf Club. Karekare Beach and Piha Surf School are also within 9 miles (15 km).