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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Seven Walks That Haven't Been Affected by the Waitakere Ranges Closure

Where to get off the beaten path and start your weekend adventure.
By Francois Finlay
May 02, 2018
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Seven Walks That Haven't Been Affected by the Waitakere Ranges Closure

Where to get off the beaten path and start your weekend adventure.
By Francois Finlay
May 02, 2018
  shares

In an effort to combat the devastating spread of kauri dieback, Auckland Council has voted through the plan to close the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park, with some exceptions outside the forested area. The move comes after a rāhui (or ban) was placed on areas of the popular walking and hiking region by local iwi Te Kawerau-a-Maki with little results. The iwi reports that the rate of disease has more than doubled over the past few years with at least 19% of all kauri in the forest showing signs of infection.

From this week, Auckland Council closed all tracks to the public except those outside the kauri ecosystem, where dirt can't be tracked. This includes a large majority of the Waitākere Ranges and high risk tracks in the Hunua Ranges to prevent the introduction of the disease to the park. The west coast beaches and a number of tracks across the rest of Auckland remain open. Here are seven to start your weekend adventure.

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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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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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Department of Conservation.

TE HENGA WALKWAY

This cliff top walk from Te Henga (Bethells Beach) to Muriwai (or the reverse) is a great introduction to Auckland's wild west coast beaches. From the Bethells carpark the track steadily climbs around headland and through private farmland. You'll be exposed to stunning raw landscape, gannet colonies and views of the west coast surf. There are two-, four- and ten-kilometre options so there's something for every fitness level. If tackling the entire thing, it's a good idea to round up some friends and leave a car at each end.

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Department of Conservation.

STONY BATTER HISTORIC RESERVE

Found on the far, eastern side of Waiheke Island, Stony Batter Historic Reserve features gun sites and historic wartime remains that date back to World War II. While the tunnels are off limits to the public — they're set to reopen later this year — the site offers walks from 25 minutes to a two-hour return trek through farmland and native bush to an isolated gravel beach. Sitting around 40 minutes from the Matiatia ferry terminal with no access to public transport, getting there and back is the biggest thing to think about.

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Russell Street.

LION ROCK TRACK

More of a climb than a walk, the west coast's most iconic rock feature, Lion Rock, is open for business. It takes around 30 minutes to conquer the giant eroded neck of a volcano, though care should be taken when approaching the path in both directions. A grassy lookout awaits at the top of the lion's shoulders, offering stunning views in every direction.

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Russell Street.

WATTLE BAY LOOP

Making up a portion of the ten-kilometre Waikowhai Walkway, the Wattle Bay Loop is an easy combination of suburban scenery and coastal bush with a perfect little spot for a picnic by the beach. Begin at the Manukau Domain, following the road from Halsey to Canberra Avenue, down through Wattle Bay Reserve and back along to the Domain. There's plenty of easy-going ground to enjoy a yarn plus the track offers beautiful harbour views from the western end of the Manukau Domain.

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TAMAKI DRIVE

While there may not be a blanket of native bush, the serenity in this instance comes from the lapping shores of the Waitemata Harbour. This quintessential Auckland pedestrian trail covers around ten kilometres from downtown to the end of St Heliers Bay. On your travels you'll be treated to sweeping view across the harbour to Rangitoto and back to the city, and pass Takaparawha (Bastion Point), Orakei, Mission Bay, Kohimarama and Vellenoweth Green.
If you're thirsty, there are plenty of options for a drink.

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Published on May 02, 2018 by Francois Finlay

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