Auckland has hundreds of adventure opportunities to explore if you dig deeper than the city walls; waterfalls, wild western beaches and cute cafes are all easy enough to find. Below is an easy to follow 1 day itinerary if your strapped for time but want to explore West Auckland and it's Waitakere ranges to it's fullest. You will need access to a car.
Karekare waterfall and Piha beach are both easily accessible via a short walk from their respective car parks, Kitekite falls however needs a basic fitness level as it's around a 40 minute walk with a few steep mounds; the upper level of the waterfall is the steepest section of the walk but isn't difficult if you don't have respiratory or leg problems.
This itinerary requires a full day and it's always best to start your day as early as possible, depending on day of the week and where you are staying you want skip as much traffic as possible and also check out these places before it gets crowded. Leaving the house before 8am is usually a good start.
What do I Need?
• Good walking shoes
• Packed lunch and water bottle (to save money otherwise there are plenty of cafes around)
• Togs and towels
• Safe driving ability/not easily prone to car sickness**
Make your way to Titirangi and click here for Google maps directions to Karekare falls, it's around a 30 minute drive with a distance of 23.3km. Once you reach the carpark on Karekare Rd walk across the bridge on the road and up a slight hill until you are met with the bush walking track on your left; La Trobe Track. Follow this track for no more than 10 minutes and you will have reached the falls.
The water is fresh and 100% safe to swim in but it is freezing cold, a few minutes in this water and you'll forget its summer. The top of the waterfall can be reached via the walking track in the bushes in front of the falls, however I'm not sure if this is still blocked off to help prevent the spread of Kauri dieback disease.
Make sure you spray and scrub your feet at all of the cleaning stations when entering and exiting any bush walks, our native Kauri trees are slowly being killed off by a disease which we are yet to find a cure for, so please help preserve our native and clean your shoes!
If you're wanting exercise this is where you will find it, Kitekite Falls are my favourite place to visit in Summer; the water is beautifully fresh and the view at the top is amazing (killer Instagram opportunity).
Kitekite falls are a 15 minute drive from Karekare and are situated a 5 minute drive from the Piha beach carpark. Click here for Google map directions from Karekare to Kitekite.
Once you reach the falls, walk across the little stream and across the rocky platform to where you will find the walking track which will lead you to the top, it's only about 15 minutes but can be a killer on your quads.
Piha beach is home to one of New Zealands most popular reality TV shows; Piha Rescue. First and foremost I should tell you that Piha is by far one of the most dangerous, swim-able beaches New Zealand has, with unpredictable rip currents and strong waves many people have died despite the efforts of lifeguards. Always swim between the flags and only when lifeguards are on.
Piha is popular among surfers and anyone wanting a thrill on their beach day, the waves are big and fun to jump in if you're a confident swimmer. You can walk the length of the beach which is separated by 'Lion Rock' and many walking tracks and lagoons can be located in or around the beach. South Piha car park has a food shack that is open during the summer months, and North Piha hosts a cafe and restaurant if you want to splash out a little bit more.
*Sunblock is 110% required when visiting New Zealand, especially in Summer. Unfortunately our ozone layer has been so badly damaged to the point you can get a blistering sunburn in under an hour. Any supermarket or pharmacy has stocks of sunblock for reasonable prices.
**The roads out to Piha can get very windy and narrow at times, locals drive this road on the daily so don't feel you have to go 80kms an hour if you don't feel safe enough doing so HOWEVER pull over in any/all of the slow vehicle bays if you have cars coming up behind you that can clearly take the corners with more experience. Pissing off a West Aucklander with slow driving is the last thing you want to do.
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