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By Stephen Heard
February 01, 2021
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By Stephen Heard
February 01, 2021
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It's the perfect time of year to get outside and stretch your legs. With water in nearly every direction, Auckland is home to a spectacular range of coastal walks where you can let the ocean breeze — or serious high sea gales — whip through your hair. These five options provide postcard-worthy harbour views, rugged beaches and historic sites, and they range from easy two-hour treks to epic half-day adventures.

In an effort to combat the devastating spread of kauri dieback, Auckland Council has closed all tracks in Waitākere Ranges Regional Park except those outside the kauri ecosystem. The west coast beaches and a number of tracks across the rest of Auckland remain open. Check before you go.

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Department of Conservation.

TE HENGA WALKWAY

Just over 30-kilometres from Auckland's CBD, this clifftop walk from Bethells to Muriwai Beach (or reverse) dishes up stunning views of the wild west coast. You can tailor the walking track to suit your experience and fitness level, from short two- to four-kilometre one-way sections to the full ten-kilometre trek. If tackling the entire thing, it's a good idea to round up some friends and leave a car at each end. You'll cop views of lagoons, dunes and the west coast surf, and might also see gannets diving for fish. The track is part of the Hillary Trail which connects a network of existing tracks in the Waitākere Ranges — be sure to check which parts of the track are open before you leave.

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WATERCARE COASTAL WALKWAY

The seven-kilometre Coastal Walkway on the Mangere Ihumatao foreshore can be started from either working farm Ambury Park or historic reserve Otuataua Stonefields. The walkway tracks New Zealand's largest marine restoration project, which removed 500 hectares of oxidation ponds and reunited the original foreshore with the sea. The walkway provides access to stretch of coastline rich in cultural history. You'll find freshwater springs on foreshore and a variety of birdlife, including pied oyster catchers and golden plovers. For a shorter walk, start at Oruarangi Creek or Creamery Road.

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Russell Street.

MAUNGAUIKA/NORTH HEAD

With panoramic views out to Rangitoto, North Head Historic Reserve is the perfect spot to wile away an afternoon. There are a series of easy tracks to choose from, all of which showcase the extensive military history of the area. Set aside a couple of hours for the full summit loop and to discover tunnels, guns, searchlights and defences that were placed on the headland to protect Auckland from feared Russian invasions.

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Russell Street.

WAIKOWHAI WALKWAY

The Waikōwhai Walkway follows the northern shore of the Manukau Harbour from the Onehunga foreshore to Lynfield Cove. Along the way, you can take in sheltered coves, regenerating native bush and stunning views across the harbour. For two hours before and after low tide, you can access the entire route along the foreshore, or through a series of reserve tracks at high tide. You can complete the full ten-kilometre trek in about five hours, or take one of four stroll-sized loops. Be sure to check the tides before you venture out.

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Department of Conservation.

RANGITOTO

A trip to Auckland's youngest volcano will take you across ancient lava fields, past historic buildings and through the largest pōhutukawa forest in the world. The tracks require intermediate walking experience and some preparation. The trip begins with a 25-minute ferry ride from Queens Wharf or, for the adventurous, a kayak harbour-crossing. The seven-kilometre summit track takes approximately two hours return with options to go off-track to lava tunnels and caves or to circle the rim of the crater. Given that some of the track covers broken lava fields, good footwear is essential. Water is also a must.

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Top image: ATEED.

Published on February 01, 2021 by Stephen Heard

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