Roadtripping the Waitakere Ranges and Piha Beach from Auckland, New Zealand
Have you ever had the feeling your heart wants to be in two places at the same time? Like ehm, really badly? That’s what my heart wants right now. I came home from New Zealand for love but now that I’m home with my outdoorman, I want to go back so bad to the country where I left a major piece of my heart behind. I’ve spent all day editing videos of my New Zealand trip and seeing those shots really made me a bit nostalgic. For a moment, I was back in the mountains and all the adventures I relived in my memories. A lonely tear ran across my face and to strengthen the feeling, I played the music I always played while roadtripping in New Zealand. As I said, I left a major piece of my heart behind when I left New Zealand, probably the biggest part so far…
Now that I started blogging and writing full time, I hope to be finally able to write all the blogs I want to write. I’ve made a list of New Zealand blogs I still want to write and there are some thirty stories I still want to tell. THIRTY! Apart from the weekly updates and a blog about hiking on Rangitoto Island, I haven’t really written about my New Zealand trip a lot yet. So it’s about time to get started and share my adventures with you. Today I’m telling you about my Waitakere Ranges roadtrip that I took from Auckland late December.
Before I went to New Zealand I had not really arranged much, just my first week in Auckland and the mountain huts for the Routeburn Track. As I expected to need quite a bit of time to buy a car in Auckland, I figured I’d stay there for six nights. However, it took me less time than expected and so I decided to open up my Lonely Planet guidebook and found some things to see around Auckland. A roadtrip to the Waitakere Ranges seemed like the perfect day out.
The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is located just a 40 minute drive away from central Auckland. This is quite amazing since Auckland isn’t exactly a small city yet you can be in the outdoors within no-time. Within no-time if you’re not driving a manual car on the left hand side by yourself for the first time in your life, that is. While trying to find my way through the city, the gas indicator notified me I was running low on petrol and as I had no idea where I was, I had a small panic attack. Luckily Google Maps soon helped me out and minutes later and with a tank full of gas and a latte in my hand, I took off for the Waitakere Ranges and Piha Beach.
As I wasn’t too early, I decided to make two stops during the day: Piha Beach and Arataki, the Waitakere Ranges visitors centre. I started my roadtrip while it was raining in Auckland, but by the time I made it to the ocean, most of the clouds had disappeared and the sun had started to shine. Soon after leaving the city the road changed into a windy way eventually leading me all the way down to Piha, a small town located on the oceanside. As it was December 31st many people took a day off and went to the beach, so it was a little crowded. On the beach there were mostly surfers as Piha is a true surfers paradise. I spent a few hours on the iron-sand beach, wandered through the sand, enjoyed the sun and took pictures of the rugged coastline. In Piha town there wasn’t that much to do and so I stepped back into my car in the early afternoon and took off for the Auckland-side of the Waitakere Ranges: the Arataki visitor’s centre.
This part of the Waitakere Ranges is covered by an amazing green and pristine bush. The amazing Kauri trees can be found here, yet they are rapidly being killed by the spreading Kauri dieback disease. Therefor always make sure to clean your shoes when entering on of the many hiking trails. The park has over 250 kilometers of hiking trails, however some of them closed due to the Kauri dieback.
I started my visit to Arataki with a short stroll along some boardwalks and viewpoints of the area. The views of the bay and Auckland in the far distance are simply stunning. Then I quickly went into the visitors center for some information and hiking maps and I had a picknick on one of the tables provided. New Zealand takes excellent care of their visitors and I just love the fact that there are picknick tables everywhere.
While eating a peanut butter sandwich I decided to hike to most popular Waitakere Ranges hiking trail: the 1.6 kilometer Arataki Nature Trail. The path is quite easy and wide and so it can easily be done by anyone. The trail led me through an ancient forest, showing me all kinds of ferns (this is also where I got the idea to have a fern tattooed on my forearm) and of course I saw some giant kauri trees. Some of them take 800 years to complete growing, which I think is pretty amazing. After about an hour on the trail I made it back to the car and slowly started making my way back into the city of Auckland, where I watched the fireworks on the Skytower for New Years Eve that same evening.
From Arataki it wasn’t too far back into the city and so this makes a great day trip from Auckland. If you are lucky enough to spend some time in this city, definitely consider to visit the Waitakere Ranges and Piha Beach. There is limited public transportation in this area, so driving your own car is definitely recommended.
In case you got curious about the Waitakere Ranges and its beaches and trees, check out the short video that I made of my visit.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my visit to the Waitakere Ranges and Piha Beach. Had you heard of this area before?
Want to read more? You may also enjoy the following posts:
– Hiking on Rangitoto Island in Auckland
– The best hikes in New Zealand
– New Zealand for first-timers: 10 important travel tips
– Auckland for 5 days – a post by fellow blogger Amy of Out Chasing Stars
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Thanks for sharing!