Auckland’s site on the isthmus between the harbours of Waitemata and Manukau, provides many coastal walking tracks alongside estuaries, inlets, streams and the Hauraki Gulf.
We have compiled a selection of 24 coastal walks into two books – Coastal part one and two. These books are available from Amazon and your local library.
This stunning walk surprised as we set out to discover an original walkway today. Off the beaten track – quiet and peaceful, a wonderful easy stroll of about 4.6km (return) from Whitford Beach alongside the Turanga Creek estuary. Beautiful water views, huge trees, green pastures and majestic houses grace this walkway.
This track is accessed from the end of Clifton Rd from Whitford Beach.
Long Bay Regional Park is situated on the northeast coast of Auckland and is one of the cities most popular recreation destinations. The long sandy beach, extensive park facilities and range of walking tracks make it a great place to walk. Enjoy the open fields or native bush. Be refreshed by the ocean air and the stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf and its many islands.
Parking is plentiful at Long Bay and there are toilets, water fountains, children’s playground and BBQ’s within the park area behind the beach. Take in some history with the Vaughan Homestead or a walk to the military pillbox.
Long Bay Regional Park offers explorers a range of walks from 15 – 20 minutes up to 3 – 4 hours, all of which are highly rated. There is more detail on each of the walks provided below, but here is a brief overview:
Nature Walk: this is a short loop walk through native bush of about 15 – 20 minutes.
Granny’s Bay Walk: this loop takes you through the wetlands and bush to the ridge, detour to the pillbox and then to Granny’s Bay. Return via the rocks if the tide is low enough. Time approx 45 – 60 minutes.
100 Acre Walk: add this detour to the Granny’s Bay walk and enjoy a kilometre walk through the regenerating native bush. Time is approx 15 mins from the Granny’s Bay walk.
Okura River Walk: this is a good half-day trek and extends beyond Granny’s Bay to the Okura River mouth. At lower tides, you can return along the rocks and beaches.
This short walk is a loop that commences from the end carpark of the Long Bay and takes in the Wetland and Nature Trail tracks. Once at the far carpark, walk northwards through the chain across the driveway. About 100m from the start, turn left at the coastal track sign and head into the flat wetland area. Follow the pathway for a further 300m until you reach the bridge where you will cross the stream that heads to Long Bay Beach. Keep a lookout for a variety of swamp birds.
Head across the bridge and up the hill. 100m on the right is the Nature Trail which follows the stream for about 250m before existing just below the historic Vaughan Homestead. The Nature Trail tracks through attractive NZ native bush. Turn left to view the Vaughan Homestead or right to head back to the start.
Granny’s Bay Walk: 45 – 60 minutes, 3.8km
This is the most popular walk at Long Bay Reserve as it provides stunning views across the Hauraki Gulf and access to the less busy and beautiful Granny’s Bay.
Take the same route as described above for the Nature Trail, however, continue to climb the hill track until you reach grass fields. Once at the top of the hill, walk through the grasslands towards the clifftop. This is where you get your best views across the water and all the way to Auckland.
A small detour on a bush track, through the fence line, near the cliff takes you to a historic pillbox. There are glimpses of views back down Long Bay Beach from here. The track at times is closed due to slips, so be mindful of its condition.
At the fence, take a left and continue to follow the track down the hill to the Beach. At high tide, it is a beautiful swimming beach and very private. As the tide recedes, it becomes part of the ongoing coastline and not so attractive for swimming.
There is a second Bay over the next hill that is also pretty but be aware that clothing is optional here and so most may not want to stop here for the swim and picnic!
The return to Long Bay can be achieved by walking around the rocks if half-tide or lower, or by retracing your steps up and over the hill. Take care though as it can be slippery when wet.
100 Acre Walk: 15 – 20 minutes, 1.6km
Enjoy a tranquil stroll through native bush on the 100 Acre Track. This is a regenerated area of native bush and enjoys great birdlife. The track is wide and grassy, a little muddy in the wet. The flowering Tea Tree and birdsong are highlights.
Access the 100 Acre track from the walkway to Granny’s Bay or from directly adjacent to Granny’s Bay.
Okura River Walk: 2.5 – 4 hours, 9km
Make a day of your time at Long Bay Reserve and complete the Okura River Walk. This is pleasant and spectacular. The track these days is pretty good, although still has some muddy patches in the wet towards Okura River.
This walkway can be completed as an out and back walk or using the track one way and the coast the other. The coastal return should only be attempted when it can be completed within 2 hours of low tide for the entire trip. It can also be very rocky and slippery but is a great option for more confident walkers. I have completed this one many times when it was a route I ran a lot and it is amazing but requires care.
Take the track to Grannys Bay and then continue over the next hill to Pohutukawa Bay. The track then climbs again upwards adjacent to farmland on the left and clifftop bush on the right. The walk is grassy and undulating, with views along the way. As you get closer to the Okura River Mouth, the track heads more westerly until you drop to the Okura River.
If the tide is low enter the ‘beach’ and then turn right to return via the coast to Long Bay. If the tide is not low, retrace your steps to return to Long Bay.
Buggies and Wheelchairs
Many of the Long Bay tracks can be accessed by buggies and wheelchairs. The constraint is more the hills as some are steep.
Cudlip Point Loop Track is a stunning walkway in the Mahurangi Regional Park, about 50 minutes drive north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. This track is one of three main walks in the park and includes amazing coastal views, beautiful beaches and a range of grasslands and native bush. It is quite hilly, so requires a reasonable standard of fitness.
Beautiful gardens, huge Pohutukawa trees, history, sculptures, monuments, swimming and wonderful Harbour views ensure the Parnell Rose Gardens Loop is a walk for all to enjoy. Add to this the onsite Redwall Chinese Restaurant and famous Rosie Cafe and you have the perfect experience.
One of Auckland’s iconic landmarks, Rangitoto Island is an amazing day out. Arrive by ferry or private boat and explore, The 360-degree views of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf from the summit are spectacular. There are plenty of other walking tracks if you are keen to explore further and short lava caves that are worth investigating.
1.5 – 2 hours return to summit, plus side walks. 1/2 day to full day to circumnavigate the island.
Formed track – lots of loose, fine scoria
0/5 – most tracks not suitable. Vehicle Road is ok.
Rangitoto Island is one of Aucklands most famous volcanoes, seen from many parts of the Auckland Isthmus. Its impressive ’round’ shape and obvious volcanic look make it instantly recognisable.
Rangitoto feels like a volcanic island. The black, rough scroria rock is all around and the many shapes of hard set lava are spectacular and at times dangerous looking! These days the bush has grown a lot on Rangitoto Island, making it a more pleasant and quite stunning walk, even on hot days.
Top suggestions to see:
Spectacular views of Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf from the summit
Volcanic rock and formations
NZ Native bush
Lava caves – some which you can explore – they are only about 30-40m in length and marked on the map above
Swim – there is a lot of rocky coastline but the water is beautiful in summer! You can take the trek to Islington Bay for a sandy beach but this is up to 2 hours! I will add this to the Google Map when I get the chance to GPS the other tracks.
View the remaining historic and original waterfront cottages.
Swimming – brave the rocky rugged coastline for a dip or swim at sandy MacKenzie Bay and Islington Bay.
You will want to allow at least half day for exploring this amazing and unique island and can easily take a full day to circumnavigate the island and take in the summit. Some of the bush is so beautiful and the views back towards Auckland give a unique and picturesque perspective.
Walking Difficulty and Suitability
Rangitoto is a steady walk and requires average fitness and steadiness on your feet. It is not suitable for wheelchairs or baby buggies, having stairs. Underfoot, the scoria can be slippery but fine if you stay aware.
Walking to the summit (260m) is uphill all the way. There are plenty of beautiful views you can take in to have a break if needed. It can also get hot – so have plenty of water, along with some snacks.
There is also plenty of options for easy walks if a person uses the Vehicle Track around the perimeter of the island. Once off the vehicle track, the routes are generally quite steep and unsteady.
Wheelchair and Buggie Suitability
Rangitoto is generally not suitable for wheelchairs and Buggies unless you stay on the Vehicle Track. This is a dirt road and gets reasonably close to the summit but a 20 – 30 min walk up stairs and steep hills will still be required to reach the summit.
The Hobsonville Point Walkway circumnavigates a newly developed area of Auckland. Much of the walkway follows the foreshore and offers pictureque harbour views . This is a walk of variety – parks, developments, wharf and historic homes.
Starting by the West Harbour Marina, the West Harbour Loop walk is fully paved, winds through wonderful bush and provides stunning views over the water back to Auckland city. There are a range of facilities at Luckens Reserve to make this walk more comfortable.
December is a beautiful time of year to get out walking when hopefully the weather starts becoming more stable and before it gets too hot. We are also blessed with the red pohutukawa tree blossoms at this time of year.
One of our favourite places to head out for a walk from is Mangere Bridge Township. We have documented five walks from this area. The village cafes are a great place to meet walking companions before and/or after a walk. On Sunday mornings there are small markets to buy goodies at. And a little further south, in Kirkbride Road, is a place where you can indulge in fresh strawberry ice-cream while the strawberries are in season. And if you are walking with children, then Ambury Park Farm is always a fun place to visit.
The Mangere Bridge walk circuits vary in length. And you have the option of linking two or more if you are feeling creative and energetic. Take a look at the selection at this link: Mangere Bridge Walks
Other places to enjoy the pohutukawa tree blossom are:
Without any obvious fanfare, the Westhaven Promenade unofficially opened yesterday (30th January 2015) for walking and cycling. And it is magnificent. Wide and spacious with wonderful views of our City of Sails. It really brings us close to the waterfront and we hope that many people will enjoy this facility. (Officially opened on the 16th February 2015).
The next stage is an interim cycle path to link North Wharf to this new boardwalk, as announced by Auckland Transport. This will form part of a 20km continuous walkway and cycleway that runs from Herne Bay in the west to Tamaki Drive in the east.
This walk begins near the ridge village of Titirangi and follows the path down through Atkinson Park to Titirangi Beach and French Bay.
Much of the walk is through regenerating native bush with the occasional tall old tree, totara and kauri, to look up at in awe, as well as groves of young kauri. You will pass by a small waterfall, and today it was very dry.
On a fine day, the beaches on the edge of Manukau Harbour glisten in the sunshine. Take a picnic to have on the grass.
Part of the track is in good condition, and another part would be difficult to navigate in winter. Sturdy shoes are recommended.
Playground and public toilet at Titirangi Beach. Dogs on leash. Stripe Cafe recommended.
Description: Some level paths with many steps and steep inclines. Suitable for most ages and levels of fitness and mobility, designed with sturdy flat shoes or running shoes in mind. Muddy in winter. To see: Native bush, stream, Manukau Harbour beaches. Time: approx.75 minutes (about 6.0 kms). Descent 266m, ascent 257m. Start: Atkinson Park, Park Road (between South Titirangi Road and Titirangi Beach Road). MAP
Waikowhai Park is a large piece of bush land and attractive park land off Hillsborough Road. The view from the car park above the playground has views across Manukau Harbour to Mangere Mountain and Ambury Park Farm.
It has a fantastic playground for older children that has an extra long slide and a flying fox. There is also a large off leash dog exercise area. There are public toilets by the playground. It’s a great place for a picnic on a fine day – there are tables by the playground, seats along the undulating bush tracks and plenty of grass in the park land.
We like to find excuses to head to Mangere Bridge for a walk. The village has a vibrant atmosphere, as the cafes that spill out onto the pavement bring the village to life and there are always visitors. Sunday mornings are market days which bring in extra visitors.
On a fine day the view of the Manukau Harbour is brilliant, and if you are lucky there is interesting bird life to watch. During the summer months, we like to stop and get fresh veggies (and strawberries) from the market gardens in Kirkbride Road.
Today we embarked on a new buggy friendly loop walk that we had overlooked on previous visits. This one starts (and ends, of course) at Mangere Bridge Village, and heads around the harbour edge, under the motorway bridge, partly through the industrial area, along the base of Mangere Mountain and returns along the Kiwi Esplanade.
Description: Mainly level paths, including ramp to bridge over the motorway. Suitable for users of average fitness and mobility. To see: Views of Manukau Harbour, One Tree Hill, Mangere Mountain; Pukeko and shore birds habitat. Time: approx. 60 minutes. (about 5.5 kms) Start: Coronation Road, Mangere Bridge MAP
We made the most of today’s fine weather and walked the circumference of Hobson Bay. Many of our walks touch on parts of Hobson Bay Walkway but to do the full circuit, we needed a low tide (check the tides here).
About half the route is along the busy roads, until we climb the ridge via Pt Resolution Bridge beside the Parnell Baths, to the quiet streets of Parnell and then back down again to the Bay and along the Freda Kirkwood Walkway.
The painting above depicts what can be seen along the route, there is plenty to look at – trains, boats, sheds, birds, mangroves, board walks, beautiful houses; with views of Rangitoto, North Head and Mount Victoria.
We started this walk from Orakei Train Station, but you can choose your own start point at a convenient place along the circular 9km route.
Description: Mostly level paths, with some steep paths and steps. Suitable for most ages and levels of fitness and mobility, designed with flat shoes or running shoes in mind. Can be muddy on the foreshore. LOW TIDE access only. To see: Boats, trains, beautiful houses, birds, boardwalks, mangroves. Time: approx. 1 hour 45 minutes (about 9 kms). Start: Orakei Train Station. MAP
We have complied four books of short circular nature walks in Auckland that help you to discover volcanoes, native bush and the vast coastal areas. These short walks are great for young children to learn about the environment, to appreciate what they can discover when they go out walking, and to obtain the pleasure of walking.
These four “Nature Walks” books are now available on Amazon and from your local Auckland library.
The twelve volcano sites that we visit are: Three Kings, Glover Park, Lake Pupuke, Mangere Mountain, Mount Eden, Mount Victoria, Mt Albert, North Head, One Tree Hill, Orakie Basin, Pigeon Mountain and Meola Reef.
How many cities do you know that still contain the native bush? The twelve native bush areas we visit are: Bayview, Blockhouse Bay, Dingle Dell, Hillsborough, Le Roys Bush, Moire Park, Oakley Creek, Opanuku Stream, Parnell Albaron, St Johns Bush, Tahuna Torea, Totara Park.
From inlets to harbours there are many coastal paths to explore. Coastal Part one
The coastal areas we visit are: Ambury Park Farm, Blockhouse Bay Gittos Domain, Churchill Park, Hillsborough, North Head, Northcote Point, Parnell, Remuera to Hobson Bay, Tahuna Torea, Te Atatu Peninsula, Wattle Downs, Wynyard Quarter.
Coastal Part Two.
The coastal areas we visit are: Belmont, Conifer Grove, Half Moon Bay, Hobson Bay walkway, Mangere Esplanade, Mission Bay, Onehunga Foreshore, Point England, Point Erin, Takapuna, West Harbour, Meola Reef.
It was low tide this morning as we walked around the Pahurehure Inlet at Papakura. The frosty ice crunched under our feet when we started our walk, and yet it did not take long for our bodies to warm up after the cold start to the day.
Part of the Pahurehure Esplanade walkway has slipped into the estuary at one point, but we managed to find a short detour. This walk is full of contrast – the quietness of the tree lined suburban streets and the reserves, the busy noise of the Southern Motorway, the happy sound of sports grounds in use on this Saturday morning, the peacefulness of the estuary path along Pahurehure Inlet.
Suggested cafes (from a friend who lives in the area): In Papakura there’s the Robert Harris which is probably the best coffee, and then there’s the local Pizza Box – they have some good dishes and a good selection, and their coffee is quite good too.
There is a children’s playground in Ray Small Park. Please check signage for off leash dog exercise areas.
Description: Mostly level paths with a short run of steps. Suitable for most ages and levels of fitness and mobility, designed with flat shoes or running shoes in mind. To see: Papakura Inlet coastal views, shorebirds, parks and sports field, residential streets. Time: approx. 80 minutes (about 6.4 kms). Start: Wharf Street, Prince Edward Park. MAP