Mercer to Auckland CDB waterfront: 95 km
Mercer to SH2 at Mangatawhiri Rd: 11 km (map 32)
From the Mercer Service Centre walk the marked route 1.5 km that follows the motorway. Turn right to enter some trees and then cross the railway line. Get onto McIntyre Rd, a little used road serving only a few houses. It has views across the Fish and Game swampland, and a relaxing shady section after its start at Kellyville Rd. After heavy rain and when the river is running high, this route may be under water. If the water is high, use the Koheroa Bypass as an alternative. The natural swampland here is how much of the land in the region looked before it was drained and modified for farming. Where the road ends is a pump station with an Archimedes Screw for drainage. Continue following a drainage ditch along the side of the swamp and then take a sharp right hand turn to follow the stop bank, another ditch and the Mangatawhiri River. From the stop bank you can overlook a little-seen corner of NZ with Dutch Polder-style agriculture (where land is surrounded by banks and constantly drained by pumping, since it lies below the level of surrounding waterways).
Eventually you reach SH2, just west of where Mangatawhiri Rd joins it.
SH2 at Mangatawhiri Rd to Totara Park, Manurewa: 36 km (maps 32, 29)
Due to storm damage and kauri die-back disease the Hunua Ranges section is closed as at Oct 2019 until further notice. See the trail status section on the official TA site. See also the regional parks website (scroll down to Hunua). Key track closures are the one through the Mangatawhiri Forest at the beginning, and the Cossey-Wairoa Track at the end of the TA Hunua Ranges section. So the 2019 October map now shows a route along roads all the way through to Manurewa. So, I don’t want to confuse you, but I’m going to give you three options. The first is the current official route. The second is the route formerly suggested on the TA site as an alternative to the Hunua Ranges, but now apparently not considered viable, perhaps due to a mistaken belief that Kimpton’s Track in the Clevedon Scenic Reserve is closed. This is not correct. Traversing the small park is perfectly do-able as it is not Kimptons Track itself that is closed but the Tōtara Track that leads to it, and you can simply take the Puriri Track instead – see the Auckland Council’s web page on this and click through to the map at its end to see what I mean. The third option through the Hunua Ranges is definitely closed as of October 2019 but really I hope things may change in the future so I am leaving it on.
But first, just a word about kauri die-back disease as it is a serious business. The disease has been recently been spreading amongst kauri trees in the Auckland and Northland regions. It is a water fungus that attacks the roots and lower trunk of the trees and eventually kills them. There is no known cure and it is spreading like wildfire, killing an iconic species of native New Zealand tree. Many other types of vegetation are dependent on the kauri, so there is a risk that we won’t just lose the trees but whole forests. The disease is mainly being spread by humans. It is crucial that you don’t walk anywhere near the roots of these trees as you are likely to pick up the fungus on your footwear and spread it further. The roots can be very close to the surface and spread a very long way from the tree. So use boardwalks where provided and clean your footwear using wash stations (and don’t forget your poles). Just spraying anti-fungus solution on your shoes isn’t enough. You have to get all the soil off them in the first instance, as that’s where the spores will be. And then you have to be careful you are not just washing the soil to some place where it can infect further trees.
1. Official Route: SH2 at Mangatawhiri Rd to Totara Park, Manurewa: 36 km (maps 32, 29)
This route is now entirely road walking, for 36.5 km from the point where you depart from the original route at Mangatawhiri Rd to go via the Hunua Ranges through to joining up with it again in Manurewa at Wairere Rd. When you add the section at the start from Mercer of 11 km and the last 7 km into Manurewa, that’s a 54 km stretch. There are probably plenty of motels and Airbnb places along the way, but backpacker accommodation is probably non-existent and there seems to be just one motorcamp (see next paragraph) at 28 km from Mercer. Note that the new route makes maps 30 and 31 no longer relevant.
Start by turning left at SH2 and the Mangatawhiri Rd junction. Walk alongside the busy SH2 for 3.5km (take care!) then turn right into the rural Pinnacle Hill Rd. After you go over the hill turn left into Paparata Rd to Bombay. Then turn right into Barber Rd, and continue as it becomes Hill View Rd. After 3.5 km this runs alongside SH1 and then you turn right into Ararimu Rd. (If you go left on Ararimu Rd and under SH1 there is the Rama Rama Caravan Park several hundred metres along.) Turn left at the next intersection into Ramarama Rd and continue as this becomes Quarry Rd, then Fitzgerald Rd until you turn left into Waihoehoe Rd. After 800m or so turn right and cross the railway line to Drury.
Turn right at the roundabout onto Great South Rd. This is a major road but there is a footpath (and there are now footpaths all the way). Stay on this for 3.7 km to Settlement Rd on the right at a major intersection with traffic lights. Cross over the railway lines and turn left into at a roundabout into the quieter Marne St. Then at a major roundabout turn left for a short distance into Clevedon Rd. If you wish, continue on a short distance to the Papakura shops, and the station if you want to take a train into the CBD for better accommodation options – see at the end of this whole section for more details. But otherwise turn right into Prictor St, then left into Ingram St and right into Prochester Rd. It is 5km along this straight stretch until you turn right at its end into Alfriston Rd and after 150m left into Stratford Rd, which is now the original route, which you can pick up below at the end of option 3 in black type.
- Applaud B&B – 46 Flanagan Rd, about 300m off-trail at left as you approach the railway crossing into Drury while on Waihoehoe Rd. Usual B&B prices but also has tent space. Txt 0274 928 965 Robert.
- Rama Rama Country Caravan Park – 25 Ararimu Rd, Opaheke, Ramarama, 09 294 8903.
Turn right at SH2 into Mangatawhiri Rd and then left into Lyons Rd. Turn left off Lyons Rd onto Paparimu Rd. Keep following Paparimu Rd when it turns left at Paparata Rd. It eventually becomes Hunua Rd. Continue straight ahead on this to Hunua itself. Just past Hunua Village, turn right onto White Rd. Follow White Rd to its end, then turn right onto Sky High Rd. Follow Sky High Rd until it becomes Monument Rd. Follow Monument Rd all the way to Clevedon and pick up the route from Clevedon as outlined in option 3 below. View the 2017 TA maps I’ve linked to in the heading above to get a handle on this and the alternative route to Clevedon I suggest next.
The above route is 11 km Mercer to Mangatawhiri Rd (the point where you meet SH2). Then 22.5 km Mangatawhiri Rd to Hunua, and 12.5 km Hunua to Clevedon, both by road. An alternative, which gets you closer to the original trail, and would be a bit longer but may have camping options, is if you head off north-east from White Rd on Falls Rd (taking the left fork onto Cossey Access Rd near the end) to reach the original route north-west along the Wairoa River to McNicol Rd and into Clevedon. The Ministry for Primary Industries says that areas in pine forest on the north-west of the Hunua Ranges are not closed, but I’m not sure if that’s the sort of forest along the river.
Possibly your best bet would be to check out accommodation in Hunua to avoid walking 46.2km in a day from Mercer to Clevedon (you could double check my distance figure too but don’t ask Google to do a direct calculation as this will be by a shorter route on SH1).
Option 3. Hunua Ranges (currently closed) and Clevedon Route: 67 km (maps 31, 30)
Branch off at right from Mangatawhiri Rd into Lyons Rd. Follow this to just before its end after 5.5 km. The trail branches off to the right immediately before a one-way bridge. You will probably want to keep going to reach the camping site in the Hunua Ranges 9 km further on, as below.
Head up the Lower Mangatawhiri Track from the Mangatawhiri Rd and follow it along a ridge (highest point 445m) before turning down a spur to the right to join with Mangatangi Trig Track. Don’t go up this track but turn left into A.R.A Drive to the Lower Mangatawhiri Campsite (40 places). You need to book campsites in the Hunua Regional Park via a clunky Auckland Council website. The reason for pre-booking may be due to the use of the park by groups, especially youth groups and the campsites can be fully booked at times. From the campsite head north up the valley and just before the next (more popular) Upper Mangatawhiri Campsite (40 places, toilets) turn south on the road. Two km further turn hard right into Repeater Rd along a ridge. There is a smaller campground here (Repeater Campground, 20 spaces, shelter and toilet, tank water). Book via the same website as the other two.
At the end of Repeater Rd the Wairoa Loop Track leads off. Go down this (and not the other end of the track that met the road earlier). Turn right into Otahu Rd and across the Wairoa Dam and then off a track at left up a spur to reach the Wairoa Cosseys Track going north. After the track turns north-west the Massey Track branches off at left. Head down here to Cosseys Creek. Just before the creek you can detour left a short distance to see the Hunua Falls. There are a couple of accommodations nearby (Kōkako Lodge and Hunua Falls Camp), but these are for school camps and other group-bookings.
Across the creek turn left onto Cosseys Access Rd and after less than a km turn off right to eventually follow the Wairoa River and join McNicol Rd. Stay on this another 7 km and at its end turn left into Clevedon-Kawakawa Rd to reach Clevedon.
There are a couple of takeway shops, a grocery, a fruit and vege co-op, a pub and a petrol station in Clevedon. You pass the Hotel Clevedon before turning right at the main street (Clevedon Papakura Rd) to go north, but most of the other establishments (and public toilets) are a little south of this intersection.
- Clevedon tourist information – 021 445548, 027 2308562, 9am to 7pm.
There doesn’t seem to be any cheap accommodation:
- Bwthyn Bach – 35 North Rd, Clevedon, 09 292 8689 or 021 907 289, Olivia.email@example.com
- Clevedon Hotel & Wairoa Restaurant – 26 Clevedon Kawakawa Rd, 09 292 8783.
- Clevedon Ridge Cottage – 021 445548 or 0274 546491 – can provide pickup and dropoff to/from trail by arrangement
- Clevedon Dairy – 14 Main Rd, Clevedon
- Clevedon Village Farmers Market – fresh local produce & provisions, Sundays 8.30am-12pm, Clevedon A & P showgrounds, Monument Rd, Clevedon.
- Clevedon Co-op – sells fruit and vegetables, 31 Clevedon Papakura Rd.
Clevedon to Tōtara Park, Manurewa: 18.5 km (maps 30, 29):
Note that there are few water sources along this section and traffic hazards on the road walking sections.
A short distance north of the roundabout intersection of Clevedon-Kawakawa Rd with North Rd, and after Twilight Rd, turn left into Thorps Quarry Rd and at its end onto the Tōtara Track (or Puriri Track if Tōtara is still closed – they meet up at Kimptons Track). This goes uphill to a lookout through Clevedon Reserve and into Kimptons Track and then down over the other side to Kimptons Rd. No camping or fires in the reserve. My information as at October 2019 is that Kimpton’s Track is very overgrown and you may have to battle blackberry and gorse. It crosses both private and public land and seems to be the responsibility of no-one in particular to maintain.
When the gravelled road meets the main Kimpton’s Rd turn left into it and continue south-west until you turn right into Brookby Rd and then right again at the roundabout with the intersection with West Rd to stay on Brookby Rd. It eventually becomes Alfriston Rd. Turn right into Mill Rd when Alfriston intersects with it at a roundabout, then left into Ranfurly Rd. Its about 11 km of road walking in total to the suburbs of Manurewa.
At the roundabout with Alfriston Rd and Stratford Rd turn right into Stratford and right again after 600m when it meets Hill Rd at another roundabout. The first turn-off on your left is Wairere Rd. Take Wairere Rd and pass through a roundabout with Charles Prevost Rd right to the end of Wairere Rd at Tōtara Park. Your only accommodation in this area will be motels (The Rayland Motel or Manukau City Lodge are not far off the trail a little further on) or B&Bs (including ones on Airbnb). The Manukau Holiday Park would have been right on the trail but is permanently closed as of April 2018. Maybe someone will re-open it? The Gardens Bed and Breakfast is at 85 Wairere Rd (021 616 989), so right on the trail and not too expensive. North-west across the gardens is the somewhat more expensive Homeleigh Bed and Breakfast (8 Corokia Pl, Tōtara Heights, 021 708 431)
- Brookby Bunk House – Fitzpatrick Rd, 900m off Brookby Rd, 9 km north on the trail from Clevedon. 021 972034 (Mark) or 021 972 534 (Nicky), firstname.lastname@example.org – $20pp, can take up to 10 people, bathroom and communal kitchen. It is on Airbnb.
- You could always take a train into the CBD for backpacker accommodation at several points along the above or following routes. This would also be an opportunity to drop off gear you don’t need. There are stations at Papakura, Takanini, Manurewa, Manukau and Onehunga. It takes about 45 mins from Manurewa to the CBD and as at Dec 2018 costs $9, or $6.20 with an AT Hop card (which costs $10). Check out the Auckland Transport website for more information.
Manurewa to Onehunga: 35.5 km, 9hrs (maps 29, 28)
Puhinui Stream Track: 9.5km, 2.5hr
Walk west across Tōtara Park and the Auckland Botanical Gardens along a path marked with TA signs. You can divert 1 km south to the gardens’ visitor centre and Miko Café if you like. Otherwise go under the Southern Motorway and along the true right-hand bank of the Puhinui Stream through an underpass beneath Great South Rd. Follow this road 400m north and turn left into Kerrs Rd for 500m or so before picking up the stream track again at right. This exits at a major intersection on Wiri Station Rd. If you wish, you can go right into Wiri Station Rd over the motorway for about 350m to Manukau Railway Station, from where you can catch a train into central Auckland, and a further 300m to Westfield mall, where there is a full range of shops, including a Countdown supermarket.
Otherwise, head left on Wiri Station Rd for 2.5 km, over the railway lines to the traffic lights, then right into Roscommon Rd, then left into Vogler Dr, right into McLaughlan Rd and left into Aerovista Pl. Don’t follow the road all the way to the end but keep straight ahead between buildings to the paved track that follows Puhinui Stream. Cross the bridge to the west bank and when the path turns west at a house get onto Price Rd beside it.
Puhinui to Onehunga: 25 km, 6.5 hrs
At the north end of Price Rd turn left into Puhinui Rd and west walk for 3 km. When it reaches Tom Pearce Dr go north and then east to walk parallel to the airport. (The airport is 15 km from Tōtara Park in Manurewa and 19 km to Onehunga, should you be landing at Auckland and wanting to knock off a bit straight away). Then turn right and north into George Bolt Memorial Drive, the main route into Auckland Airport, for 1 km, past the Airport Shopping Centre. There is a large supermarket here and many fast food outlets. (If you are a frequent visitor to Auckland Airport and have wondered who Tom Pearce was, he was president of the NZ Rugby Football Union in the 1970s and a strong supporter of racially selected South African teams. George Bolt was a pioneering NZ aviator, flying the country’s first airmail in 1919 amongst other achievements.)
After 1 km turn left into Ihumātao Rd for 3 km to leave behind airport hell and then right into Oruarangi Rd and then left into Ihumātao Quarry Road. A track through the Otuataua Stonefields begins at the end of the road. Māori trapped the sun’s warmth by piling up these stones to expand their kūmara-growing season. The Māori garden mounds, the storage pits, and the drystone walls of later Pākehā farmers are still prominent in this area.
You now more or less follow the water’s edge to Onehunga. You pass some bird hides and cross the Oruarangi Creek on a pedestrian bridge along the Māngere Foreshore Track (aka Watercare Track) that takes you past restored wetlands and sewage treatment ponds and sees you cross a bridge over the outflow from the Māngere Lagoon, a former volcanic crater with remains of its cone in the centre. Behind that is another, much higher volcanic cone, the site of Māngere Domain. These volcanoes are part of the Auckland volcanic field that consists of about 48 mini-volcanoes. The field is dormant but not extinct and a new volcano could pop up any time, with the last eruption occurring only 500 years ago on Rangitoto Island.
You then enter the Ambury Regional Park. At the end of the track, where you turn north into Kiwi Esplanade, is a rangers house and a basic campground with drinking water, toilets and barbecues.
Follow Kiwi Esplanade across the peninsula and then around the waterfront on its north side to Coronation Rd and the old Māngere Bridge, now reserved for foot and cycle traffic, across the inlet. If you need to stock up on food, turn south on Coronation Rd before going over the bridge and a few hundred meters along are takeaways and small supermarkets. On the other side of the bridge stay on the coast at left, past Airport Harbour View Motel on Onehunga Harbour Rd, then Orpheus Drive to cross a footbridge just past the Manukau Cruising Club over the four-lane motorway to Onehunga Bay Reserve and the start of the Coast to Coast route. The Onehunga Shopping Centre and train station are about 500m east of here. From the footbridge you can spot your next objective – the obelisk marking the top of Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill.
- Ambury Regional Park Campground – 43 Ambury Road Māngere Bridge, 09 366 2000, email@example.com Forward bookings essential.
- Airport Harbour View Motel – 6 Onehunga Harbour Rd, Onehunga, 09 634 5300.
- Airport Skyway Lodge – 30 Kirkbride Rd, an older style of motel located between the Māngere Coastal Track and the Mangere town centre, 0800 726 880 freephone or 09 275 4443 (backpackers/motel/airport transfers)
- Auckland Airport Kiwi Motel – 144 Mackenzie Rd, Māngere, located near the Skyway Lodge and also relatively cheap (and possibly better value), 0800 991 885 freephone. Includes restaurant, continental breakfast, free 24 hour shuttle to/from airport.
- Māngere Bridge Homestay – 1 Boyd Ave, Māngere Bridge, not far south of Kiwi Esplanade, 09 636 6346, firstname.lastname@example.org
Onehunga to Ferry Terminal, Auckland CBD via Coast to Coast Walkway: 14 km, 4-5 hrs (maps 28, 27)
This route is across the Auckland Isthmus that divides the Pacific Ocean from the Tasman Sea. The region is also known as Tāmaki Makaurau (‘the spouse desired by a hundred lovers’) for its fertile volcanic slopes, sheltered fishing sites, strategic command of land routes, access to sea routes on either coast as well as to the greatest waterway in New Zealand, the Waikato River. At its narrower points Māori used to drag canoes over from the Hauraki Gulf to the Manukau Harbour.
As with the section that follows, from Devonport to Long Bay, the TA maps are not detailed enough to show exactly which streets to take. You can do without them by following these notes. There are also large blue signs along the route to mark the Coast to Coast Walkway but these are not quite frequent enough to guide you without a supplementary aid such as notes or a map.
From the north side of Onehunga Park on Beachcroft Rd go north up Horns Reserve by Normans Hill Rd, then turn right into Arthur St and left into Quadrant Rd. You come to Jellicoe Park. You first see some historic buildings on the corner, including the brick military blockhouse built in 1860. It was very strategically sited, giving a commanding view over possible Māori invasion routes to the south and east. Walk east along the park’s margin on Grey St to the stone arch entrance and then diagonally cross the park on the sealed pathway to the other stone arch, built to commemorate the dead of WWI. Return to Quadrant Rd, which soon becomes busy Manukau Rd. Stay north along this, though the Royal Oak roundabout and a shopping area, including a PaknSave supermarket at left after the roundabout. (The TA route departs a little from the Coast to Coast route by going straight along Manukau Rd from Quadrant Rd, so ignore the blue sign that suggests you go left on Trafalgar St.)
At Cornwall Park/Maungakiekie One Tree Hill Domain take the road into the domain and pass the Stardome Observatory on your left. Keep left on Olive Grove when Bollard Ave branches off at right. You may wish to go up to the top of the volcano at the next turn-off at right and you can take a track down the other side so you don’t have to retrace your steps. There are tracks all over the mountain so it pays to spot your next volcano, Mt Eden, from the top so you know which direction to go down. It’s the more westerly flat-topped mountain. (If you were wondering about the name of Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill, the original ‘one tree’ was chopped down in 1852, an in recent times the single pine on the summit attacked as a protest in 1994 and 2000 and finally removed. And the Māori name means the mountain of kiekie, a forest vine. The mountain was once the site of a pa (fortified village), holding several thousand people. Māori terracing and kūmara storage pits are still visible.) If you are sticking to the lower road, keep going to a very large roundabout, passing the information centre and toilets on your way, and exit onto Pōhutukawa Drive going north. After it crosses Greenlane West Rd it becomes Puriri Dr, lined with puriri trees.
Eventually Puriri Dr meets Manukau Rd again. Head diagonally right across the crescent-shaped piece of land between the two arms of road that run from Puriri Dr to Manukau Rd in order to enter Kimberly Rd and across Melville Park. On the other side turn right into St Andrews Rd. This almost immediately becomes a driveway through the University of Auckland Faculty of Education and then a path through some buildings before becoming a drive again, past tennis courts. Keep Mt Eden ahead as your goal and you won’t get lost. Turn left into Epsom Drive. If you keep going west a few hundred metres you come to Mt Eden Village, with many cafés and the like. But to stay on the route turn right into Cecil Rd and left into Owens Rd. A path leads off this at right into Mt Eden Domain. Here is another volcano you may wish to climb, Maungawhau /Mt Eden, Auckland’s highest at 196m. Not only does it have a great view but the crater on the summit is almost perfectly formed. Whau trees, whose wood is as light as balsa and was once used by Māori for net floats, still grow on Maungawhau (‘the hill of the whau tree’).
The trail passes a small forest of tōtara and rimu on the volcano’s southern slopes. There are a confusing number of tracks and roads on the mountain and it is easy to get disoriented. The official route goes north on the road from where the initial track meets it. Then back south up a track to the road around the summit and down the road on the east side and then north. If you don’t wish to go to the top, keep going north on the road when the track first meets it. Your aim is to get to the north end of the domain where Puhi Huia Rd exits it onto Clive Rd. Take Clive Rd north-east away from the domain (not north-west, where it skirts it). This gets you to Mountain Rd, which goes north, crossing the motorway. On the left just before the motorway you will see the unusual and massive Californian/Spanish mission style building (complete with Moorish turrets) of Auckland Grammar, the city’s prestigious boys school. At busy Khyber Pass Rd Mountain Rd meets Park Rd on the other side. You can turn right down Khyber Pass Rd to the major shopping area of Newmarket. Otherwise keep going on Park Rd to Auckland Domain.
From the corner with Carlton Gore Rd, take the path down behind the cricket grandstand and onto the driveway going left. Keep on the left-most drive to go to the left of the duck pond and Wintergarden Café. (On the right beyond the café is the Wintergarden (hot-house) itself and Auckland War Memorial Museum dominates the skyline on the rim of the volcano Pukekawa further uphill.) The first path you come to going downhill at left is the paved Centennial Walkway. This takes you to Grafton Gully. At the bottom cross over onto Grafton Rd, which heads up to Symonds St and its surrounding Auckland University precinct. Continue into the narrow, tree-lined Alfred St through university buildings and turn right into Princess St alongside the popular Albert Park. (You can duck down through here to the Auckland Art Gallery and the main city-centre thoroughfare of Queen St.) At the end of Princess St go down through the pocket sized Emily Place Reserve to Emily St. This takes you down to Customs St. At Queen St, turn right and walk to Quay St. The ferry terminal is the large sandstone and brick Edwardian building right opposite, on the waterfront (naturally enough).
- Auckland DOC Visitor Centre – Shed 19, Princes Wharf, adjacent to The Crab Shack and overlooking the ferry terminal. Hut passes, booking advice and plenty of information and advice available.
- Auckland Transport for bus, train or ferry information, 0800 10 30 80 freephone or 09 366 6400.
There are over 30 hostels in Auckland, so it is not possible to list them all. Suffice to say that the ones in the centre of town tend to be party places in multi-story buildings and those further out located in homely surrounds of large old houses. Oaklands Lodge and Bamber House are examples of the latter that are on your way into town on the trail near Mt Eden and which are rated highly by users on Hostel World. Inner city hostels near the ferry terminal are Fat Camel, Nomads, Queen St Backpackers and Juicy Snooze (by Emily Place, where you walked down to Quay St). A little further away is the well rated The Attic on Wellesley St (though I didn’t see anything too special about it when I stayed there, aside from a good kitchen and nice balcony area). The YHA hostels are furthermost from the trail. There is plenty to do in and around Auckland of course (consider Waiheke Is, Rangitoto Is or Piha), but if you just want to keep going you could easily head over to the North Shore and stay at the motor camp and resupply in Takapuna.
- YHA Auckland International – 5 Turner St, Auckland, 09 302 8200.
- YHA Auckland City – 18 Liverpool St, Auckland, not quite as close to downtown as the other YHA, but well rated, 09 309 2802.
- Oaklands Lodge – 5A Oaklands Rd, Mt Eden, 09 638 6545.
- The Attic – 31 Wellesley St, Auckland Central, 09 973 5887.
Devonport to Long Bay Regional Park via North Shore Coastal Walk: 23.5 km, 6-7hrs (maps 27, 26)
The all-tide route follows the coast north on cliff-top tracks, pedestrian shortcuts, steps and footpaths. The route was the first fully marked up urban TA section and there are frequent TA signs. Parts of the signed route are very steep. There are steps and narrow grassy tracks which may become slippery in wet weather.
It is also possible to walk almost all the way on the shoreline, but Auckland Council does not recommend this route. Rocks may be very slippery and unstable underfoot. Because high sandstone cliffs are subject to sudden rockfalls, please keep at least 10 metres out from the cliffs. You will need to take careful note of the time of low tide, as there are several points where you can be cut off by the rising water. Check tide times on the NIWA website. Enter Murrays Bay as a representative location in the drop-down list of locations. You will see low tide times indicated by the negative height numbers. If you want to walk the whole way during one low tide you will need to make sure low tide is at the mid-point of your walk and don’t take the walk too slowly (by siting around in cafe or going to a supermarket, say). There is no foreshore route between Milford Beach and Castor Bay and Wairau Creek cannot be safely forded at any stage of the tide. If you are unsure of the state of the tide, please follow the signed all-tide route. Also, after heavy weather events, some parts can be affected so follow marked alternatives or self-navigate the streets.
There are toilets at almost every beach, and sometimes drinking fountains as well.
Take the ferry from Quay St over to Devonport. They go every 15 mins during the commuter period and every 30 mins in the middle of the day. On weekends it is every 30 mins. You can go inland a bit to Devonport’s cafés and shops. The suburb is known for its well preserved heritage buildings dating from the 1880s and is a popular tourist destination, but expect high priced boutiques and restaurants as a result. Devonport is also the home of NZ’s navy and you can visit the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum on King Edward Parade. As for the TA trail, head east along the coast on King Edward Parade. Then turn left into Cheltenham Rd. You can choose to skip North Head by following this to Cheltenham Beach. Or you can take the long way round the coast of the head by turning right into Jubilee Ave. Another option is to climb up to the top. North Head is a popular visitor site for its gun emplacements, built in the 1880s when a Russian invasion was feared. There is a network of tunnels (you will need a torch) associated with the guns that has been subject to much urban legend, including beliefs that the tunnels are still stacked full of live explosives, inhabited by ghosts, and the site of some dismantled vintage aircraft.
You can walk around North Head without getting your feet wet so long as the tide is no more than about 2/3 high. The only point where the tide is an issue is near the beginning of the track for a few metres, and for the rest the route is on a well-constructed concrete path above the high tide. You pass searchlight emplacements, and one tunnel complex on this path. Start the coastal route around the head by walking through the Navy Museum grounds. Once on Cheltenham Beach, walk its length and exit at Bath St Reserve into Bath St and turn right into Vauxhall Rd to go up and over into Narrow Neck Beach. Exit onto Old Lake Rd and turn right into Hamana St. This becomes Seacliffe Ave. Turn left into Winscombe St, walk past Takapuna Grammar School and Belmont Intermediate School to turn right into the busy Lake Rd. Keep right when it turns westwards to branch off into Clifton Rd and go to the end to enter Takapuna Beach. This route involves quite a lot of road walking but the coastal alternative is hard going over jagged rocks. Along Takapuna Beach and other parts of the North Shore Coastal Walk you can fantasise about which of the multi-million dollar homes you would have and be amazed at how many prime sites are ruined with atrocious architecture (clear proof that most of the inhabitants have more money than taste). At Takapuna Beach there is a small motorcamp at the north end (8.5 km on your walk from Devonport) and a large shopping area inland.
Takapuna to Milford: You can walk all the way along the beach and rocks from Takapuna to Milford Beach in anything but very high tides. Between the beaches the route follows the North Shore City heritage trail Takapuna–Milford Walk and crosses private property thanks to the owners’ goodwill. Please respect the environment and the privacy of local residents, and do not trespass on private property. The pathway in this area is not properly constructed all the way so take care.
Milford to Castor Bay: You can’t get between these two beaches on the water’s edge at any state of the tide. Nor can Wairau Creek be safely forded say the official notes though a good low tide and some wet feet may well get you through. From Milford Reserve at the north end of the beach cross the Wairau Creek footbridge onto Inga Rd, which becomes Beach Rd as you go north. A ‘Walkway’ sign and TA signage marks a path between houses off at right at the letterbox for no. 61A. This takes you to the Esplanade which goes to Castor Bay Beach Reserve. (If you miss the path, turn right into the Esplanade when it meets Beach Rd.) Then go up what looks like a private driveway (signposted Rahopara Pā) follow the John F Kennedy Memorial Walkway through Kennedy Park to Beach Rd and turn off at Huntly Rd to get to the sands of Campbells Bay. Kennedy Park is worth visiting to see the gun emplacements and observation building that were disguised as holiday homes to foil aerial observation by the Japanese during WWII.
Campbells Bay to Murrays Bay: Along the beach find the Possum Ladder Track up to View Rd. It is heavily festooned with TA signage so you won’t miss it. Sea Dog Alley at right just before the road joins Beach Rd will take you to Whitby Cres. Forde Way, opposite the intersection with Kowhai Rd, will take you to Mairangi Bay. From the north end of the bay take the Crows Nest Rise Walk along the cliff tops to Murray’s Bay. However, there is also a popular concreted coastal walk on top of a pipeline from Mairangi to Murray’s Bay that is easy walking if the tide is not too high.
Murrays Bay to Browns Bay: Again a cliff-top path (the Cliff Top Walkway) will take you between the two bays. You come out at Churchill Rd. Go straight ahead, inland, then turn right into Rothesay Bay Rd to arrive at Rothesay Bay beach. And again a walkway from the north end of the bay follows the cliffs and comes out at Beechwood Rd. Head down this past two or three houses then turn into a path between houses at right. There is a shopping area one street back from the beach at Browns Bay.
Browns Bay to Long Bay: Running off Manly Esplanade at the northern end of the beach is the Lotus Walk. This takes you to Sharon Rd, which joins Beach Rd. This goes to Waiake Bay, with the suburb of Torbay behind it. At the north end of the bay turn right into Waiake St off Beach Rd, then left into Rock Isle Rd, and right into Rewi St. This turns sharply left to become Cliff Rd. At its end Cliff Rd turns into Gilberd Pl and then Oneroa Track to the Long Bay Regional Park.
There are many motels and B&Bs along the whole North Shore section, as well as supermarkets and cafés. Takapuna has the largest range of shops. Other centres are Devonport, Milford, Mairangi Bay and Browns Bay. There are only two camp grounds, with the small Takapuna ground being right on the route and handy to a major shopping area and the North Shore Motel and Holiday Park being 1.5 to 2 km off-trail. There is NO camping at Long Bay Regional Park.
- Devonport Motel – 11 Buchanan St, Devonport, 09 445 1010. Fairly expensive but with character.
- Karin’s Villa – 27 Clarence St, Devonport, 09 445 8689. Minimum 2 nights stay. German spoken.
- North Shore Motel & Holiday Park – 52 Northcote Rd, Northcote, 09 418 2578 or 0508 90 90 90 freephone. Camping, cabins and motels.
- Takapuna Beach Holiday Park – 22 The Promenade (north end of Takapuna Beach), 09 489 7909, Campsites, caravans, motel & cabins. Note that the camp is quite small and popular, and has seen better days.
- Browns Bay Olive Tree Motel – 24 Glencoe Rd, Browns Bay, 0800 002 486 freephone or 09 929 4616.
- Consider Airbnbs all the way up the coast, as there some on the clifftops with million dollar views. Not too expensive if you are a couple.
- For local assistance (in/around Campbells Bay), contact Rob Howe 027 692 2674. Rob has walked most of the TA between Cape Reinga and Hamilton and is happy to advise/assist as he can.
- Auckland Transport for bus or train information to/from Long Bay Regional Park, 0800 10 30 80 freephone or 09 366 6400.
- North Shore Taxis, 09 488 8000.
Long Bay to Stillwater: 8.5km, 3hr (maps 26, 25)
If the tide will be dead low when you get there you can walk across the Okura River estuary if you are game. Check the NIWA tide service and also consider the amount of recent rain and wave height from wind or swell. To make this crossing walk the length of the Long Bay Regional Park, passing the male nude beach at Pōhukukawa Bay. At the very north end of the park go down to the waters edge and walk across the mud to Dacre Point. At the 4th white marker the water should be about hip deep. Starting from the northernmost point of the Long Bay reserve and taking an arc left to Dacre Point should point you up on the river bar, so avoiding a deeper channel further into the inlet. However, you could walk up the inlet to Okura (at the end of Okura Rd) and cross to the spit opposite where the water should also be shallower. If you wish to avoid getting your feet wet altogether or the tide is high, then you need to make this decision before you enter Long Bay Regional Park. In this case, walk south-west on Beach Rd from the park road entrance, then turn left into Glenvar Rd. Stay on this until you turn into East Coast Bays Rd. Then turn into Haigh Access Rd. When this takes a sharp turn left the Okura River Walkway branches off and takes you down the river to Dacre Point.
Walk north along the beach past historic Dacre Cottage (which has a long-drop toilet) and along the Okura Bush Walkway to Duck Creek Rd. Where the track joins the road is the Stillwater Motor Camp. Further on is the Stillwater Boating Club (which may have toilets for public use).
- Stillwater Motor Camp – 2 Duck Creek Rd, Stillwater, 09 424 7518.
Stillwater to Wenderholm: 24.5 km (map 25)
The 2018/19 map initially showed a new route from the motorcamp to Orewa, but then a new map was published showing the old route and a hard to see dotted line for the new route. So I guess the current official route is the ‘old route’ but I’m going to give you both. Lets call the new route an ‘alternative route’ and the old one the ‘official route’. The alternative route is shorter, but you have to get across the Weiti River from the motorcamp somehow. It doesn’t look like you can wade across so you will you have to ask someone at the boat club to take you over. The official route takes you through the Silverdale shopping area where there are big operators like Bunnings hardware and The Warehouse, plus supermarkets and Macpac, so you may want to go this way if you need to buy camping gas or make running repairs to your gear. It is an area of spread-out mega stores and busy traffic – not very pleasant. There are two supermarkets in Orewa, though maybe not as big as the Silverdale ones.
Stillwater to Orewa Estuary: 13 km, 3hrs
Keep going north from the boating club on Duck Creek Rd. It turns south-west and winds around a bit, generally going west, becoming Spur Rd, and eventually joining the East Coast Rd some 5.4 km from the boating club. Turn right and north into this road and proceed for 2 km. Turn right into Forge Rd, and then quickly left into Tavern Rd at the Placemakers depot. This takes you under the Hibiscus Coast Highway as Tavern Rd becomes Silverdale St. After passing through a roundabout the Silverdale Centre, with various large stores, ATMs, food outlets and a supermarket, is on your right. There is a Macpac outdoors store in here. At the next intersection turn left into Millwater Parkway. Follow this 1 km to Longmore Lane on the right. This turns into a track and you take the first left onto Te Ara Tāhuna – the Orewa Estuary walkway.
Cross over the Orewa River on the Hibiscus Coast Highway and then over to the coastal side to get to Orewa Beach. You will encounter the Orewa Beach motorcamp on the way.
A shorter and more pleasant alternative (8km) to all this walking through mega-store country is to get a ride on a boat across the Weiti River from the motorcamp to the Weiti Boating Club on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. From there walk along a foreshore road and then track heading north-west. You should be able to get onto either Scott Rd or more likely, Cedar Terrace. Go along that inland to Rd. Turn left into this, then right into Beverly Rd and right into Brightside Rd. A short way along a cycle path and pedestrian path turn off at left. Go down here. At its end turn right into D’Oyly Dr, left into Vipend Rd, right into Glenelg Rd to a green area that leads to the sea front. Walk north-west along the shore to Walton St. Take this to Rosario Cres, keeping left when the crescent loops around to itself, to find the path down to the shore labelled Amorino Park. Follow the path here to the bridge over the Orewa River. This was the official TA route for a brief moment until someone probably decided the chances of getting the boat ride were not so high. You do miss out on resupply options in Stillwater, but there are supermarkets (smaller I think) in Orewa.
Orewa Estuary to Wenderholm: 11.5km, 3hrs
Walk to the end of the beach. There are a couple of supermarkets one block inland (on Moenui Ave and Moana Ave) about a third of the way along. You can walk round the beach to Hatfields Beach at low tide. But there is a great view on the inland route. To take this, walk along the Hibiscus Coast Highway (HCH) up the hill to Oceanview Rd. This doesn’t exactly meet the HCH but appears to join a walking path above the highway on the right that starts just past the bus stop at the top of the hill. A public walkway leads off Oceanview Rd and down steps to Hatfields Beach / Otanerua.
You can easily walk around the coast to Waiwera Beach at low tide (though the first bit might be the most difficult when the tide is not dead low – maybe you can short cut over the first section of hill). Otherwise it is a case of walking on the Hibiscus Coast Highway. There are no cliff-top tracks. If you are doing the beach/rocks route, as soon as you get to Waiwera Beach get onto Waiwera Pl, which leads diagonally away from the beach at the southern end. This joins Waiwera Rd, which has a couple of thermal resorts on it, one at the intersection and one closer to the beach. Then turn right by the mini-mart to cross the Waiwera River on the Hibiscus Coast Highway. On the other side turn off at right to the Perimeter Track around the peninsula of Wenderholm Regional Park. Pass through the grounds of the historic Couldrey House to the carpark where there is an information board and map of the park, as well as toilets.
- Stillwater Heights Backpacker Retreat – Duck Creek Rd, Stillwater, 022 121 0120 (Jeff). $25 for tent site or open air shack. Private room available. Was on Airbnb but not as of April 2018. No longer be available?
- Kereru Cottage – Stillwater Cres, 021 832 358 (Lisa).
- Pillows Lodge (aka Orewa Beach Backpackers) – 412 Hibiscus Coast Highway, Orewa, 09 426 6338.
- Silverdale Bed and Breakfast – 41 Whangaparaoa Rd, Silverdale (600m off the TA route). Apartment, studio, caravan. 09 421 1460, Seaside_BnB@xtra.co.nz
- Orewa Beach Top 10 Holiday Park – 265 Hibiscus Coast Highway, 09 426 5832. Pinewoods Motor Park is another camp in the area, a bit over 1 km east of the south side of the Orewa River Bridge, near Red Beach, at 23 Marie Ave.
- Schischka campground – Wenderholm Regional Park, about 1 km west of the jetty. This is another regional park campground like those in the Hunua Ranges where you are supposed to book in advance and no cash payments can be made on arrival. 09 366 2000, option 1 for booking 8am to 8pm.
Wenderholm to Puhoi by kayak, 7 km, 2hrs (map 25)
At the present time, the walking route from Wenderholm Regional Park to Puhoi is incomplete, but you can hire a kayak to paddle to Puhoi, provided the tide is right. The cost is about $50. The operators are in Puhoi and they will bring the kayak to you by road and can take your pack back with them. You will need to pre-book the kayak. Probably the best state of tide is mid-tide to just after high tide, so the current is going in your direction and there is enough water to make the trip interesting. Check tides with NIWA. If you use the drop-down list of locations on this site then Matakana River is pretty close to Puhoi River.
The alternative is a 6 km road walk, beginning by going to the end of Schischka Rd, past the camping ground, and turning right onto the Hibiscus Coast Highway. This then joins up with SH1. This is a busy and dangerous stretch of road. Turn off it at left on Puhoi Rd to reach the village.
Puhoi was settled by Europeans in 1863 from Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. There is a general store (open 7am–7pm), tearooms (50 Ahuroa Rd, open Fri–Sun 10–4), an historic pub and two or three cheap Airbnbs in the area.
- Puhoi River Canoe Hire – 84 Puhoi Rd, Puhoi (Opposite the Historic Puhoi Church), 09 422 0891 or 027 2841672. Operating daily 1 Sept–30 June (closed Christmas Day).
- Hibiscus Kayak Hire – 021 133 6938, based in Waiwera.
- Auckland Sea Kayaks – 0800 999 0899 (freephone), 09 213 4545, operating throughout the summer months. They cover the Auckland region so may be less geared up for you to kayak the Puhoi River economically.
- Kauri Glen Lodge – 35 Fiddlers Hill Rd, about 1 km south-west of Puhoi village, 09 422 0598 or 0274 792 328, email@example.com Upmarket and expensive but TA official notes say: “Ask for the special walker/backpacker and/or lodge guest rates.”
- Puhoi Backpacker Accommodation – 10min walk from start of the track. 09 422 0009 or 021 722 266 (Pip ), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Puhoi Pub – Cnr Saleyards & Puhoi Rd, Puhoi (limited accom), 09 422 0812.
Puhoi to junction of Remiger and Ahuroa Rds via Puhoi Track: 5 km, 2hr (map 25)
Please remain on the track at all times – for personal safety and to protect the kauri trees on the route from kauri die-back disease (spread by walkers’ shoes). Begin by crossing the river opposite the general store into the domain. A track leads here to the graveled Cook Rd. There are two routes up. The one via the Arthur Dunn memorial lookout is more direct but steeper and can be slippery when wet. Turn off left from the road through native bush and kauri to pine forest. Near the end there are spectacular young kauri on the left and you cross a swing bridge over the Puhoi River to Remiger Rd. Walk along this road and continue when it becomes a track.
Puhoi Valley to Govan Wilson Rd: 37.5km, 1.5 days (maps 25, 24, 23)
Dunns Ridge Track: 2.5km, 1hr
Cross some stiles onto the track up the ridge and along a fence line. Keep strictly to the route over farmland and do not freedom camp in this area. You pass the ‘Sugarloaf’ rock formation. A stile is in place if you want to climb up to this very peaceful & picturesque spot with beautiful views across the valley and out to the coast. You may get cellphone reception here and along some of the other ridge lines that follow. You then pass through Dunns Bush (a QEII reserve), following orange markers, then down a fence line on a ridge to a gate and a carpark. Go down the road (Tolhopf Rd) through a rural subdivision to its intersection with Ahuroa Rd.
Moirs Hill to Waiwhiu: 16 km, 4-5hr
Much of this is along operational forestry roads, so watch for trucks and don’t wear headphones. Go straight on along a 4WD track (Barkers Rd) to Moir Hill. Stay on this grass/clay track and don’t be tempted by the gravel forestry road nearby. There are few markers. Pass the transmission tower at the top and head west along a forestry road on the ridge 4.5 km to the end of Matthew Rd. After 1 km turn right into Woodcocks Rd and then left into Edgerly Rd 500m further on. At the end, cross the stile and follow the marked fence line down the ridge. Stick with markers so you don’t end up at someone’s house when you exit onto a driveway for no. 121 on Old Kaipara Rd. Go right into this road, then keep left when it takes a sharp turn to become Streamlands Swamp Rd. (Warkworth is about 4km east of this point over a small bridge, and has a supermarket if you wish to resupply.) After a short dog-leg east at Kaipara Flats Rd, go up a ridge on Smyth Rd. Turn off at right just before the top to go across to Kraack Rd and on to Kraack Hill. Keep left when the road branches, but go straight through the next intersection and then right (still on Kraack Rd) to Waiwhiu and across SH1. If want to get to Warkworth, 7km south-east, this is probably a good point to catch a lift, though traffic may be going fast past the intersection (and it may be worth noting that this stretch of roads is considered one of the deadliest in the North Island in terms of crashes!)
Waiwhiu to Govan Wilson: 15 km, 6-7hr
Over SH1 are some tearooms, toilets and DoC signage for the Dome Forest Walkway. The track ascends about 1 km to the lookout, where there are views across the Mahurangi Peninsula to the Hauraki Gulf. Then it is a scramble around large rocks and some up and downs along the ridge to the Dome trig (336m). The narrow bush track now follows along the ridgeline through attractive podocarp and broadleaf forest with glimpses of the surrounding countryside and coast.
The track eventually joins Waiwhiu Valley Rd (a private forestry road). This forestry area is open daylight hours only and no camping or fires are permitted. Turn right into the road and after 300m branch off at left to cross the Waiwhiu Stream and follow it upstream for about 1.3 km before climbing steeply. Turn right when the track meets another at a high point to turn north-east past Conical Peak and down to Govan Wilson Rd past a rusty old bus, a private home, and down some steps. It is 3 km along Govan Wilson Rd to the intersection with Matakana Valley Rd. The small settlement of Matakana with a Four Square, café and accommodation options is 6 km south on this road. As a country get-away from Auckland, the village and surrounds is well populated with expensive B&Bs and boutique attractions. Only one or two of the Airbnbs are priced below $100.
- Warkworth i-Site Visitor Information centre – 1 Baxter St, Warkworth, 09 425 9081.
- DoC – Unit 12, 30 Hudson Rd, Warkworth, 09 425 7812
- Long distance buses InterCity and Northliner Express Coach Service pass through Warkworth.
- Warkworth Mahurangi Backpackers – 11 Wickens Place, Warkworth, 09 425 7513.
- Walton Park Motor Lodge – 2 Walton Ave, Warkworth, 09 425 8149, email@example.com
- Ribbonwood B&B – 7 Thompson Rd,Warkworth, 09 422 2685, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sheepworld Caravan Park – 12 L.Phillips Rd, just off SH1, about 1 km south of Waiwhiu (and 4 km north of Warkworth). Cabins, camping, on-site caravaning. 09 425 9962. Don’t be confused or mislead by the photos of lakes and snowcapped mountains on the website!
- Nanekoti Homestay – 111 Edgerley Road, Kourawhero, about halfway along the Dome to Moir Hill Route, 09 425 9756, email@example.com
- Govan Wilson Twin Rimus (Matt and Jas) – 107 Govan Wilson Rd, on the trail, 021 205 7404 (Matt). Camping (or in the barn if its raining), hot shower, wifi, a cold beer and coffee in the morning. $20pp/night. Produce, chocolate, chips and drinks also available for purchase.
- Mandy Logan is at 256 Govan Wilson Rd, just after you join the road, and happy to have walkers camp for the night. Please contact in advance: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Matakana Information Centre – Matakana Cinemas Foyer, 2 Matakana Valley Road, Matakana, 09 422 7433, Matakanainfo@xtra.co.nz
- Andros B&B – 1 Courtney Lane, Matakana, 09 422 9903 or 027 291 2744.
- Hesselwood (SC, B&B), 09 422 9344, email@example.com
- Matakana Village Cottages (self-contained and B&B ) – 202 Matakana Valley Rd, 09 422 9337 or 021 189 4242, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Matakana Outback – 844 Matakana Valley Rd (just beyond where the trail north leaves the road), 09 422 9514 or 021 558 514. Cottage (10% discount when you mention seeing them on the Te Araroa website), camping also available at $25 with outdoors shower. Meals/snacks on request.
Govan Wilson Rd to Pakiri via Mt Tamahunga (Te Hikoi o Te Kiri) Track: 11 km, 4-5 hrs (map 23)
Go north on Matakana Valley Rd for 450m to a narrow, steep, and slippery track that leads to 8 km of ridge walking to the highest point of Tamahunga (437m) through the Omaha Forest and down to Pākiri village. The track begins by climbing uphill to a short boardwalk over a swamp, across a bridge and a further climb to a well formed track to a grassy knoll with views (between gorse). The track takes you below a weather satellite tracking station before descending and then climbing steeply again over rough and sometimes slippery ground. It turns east through a pine plantation and up and down a steep and muddy saddle onto farmland. Take the turn left down the ridge through farm pasture to the southern end of Bathgate Rd. Pass the school and cross over Pākiri Rd to continue in the same direction north on Pākiri River Rd to Pākiri Beach Holiday Park and the beach itself.
- Pakiri Beach Holiday Park – 261 Pākiri River Rd, 09 422 6199. Camping, cabins & motel units as well as bunk beds in shared room ($30 to $40 depending in time of year). Discounts to TA walkers. Camp store stocks a variety of food, drinks, toiletries, fresh milk and bread.
Pākiri to Mangawhai Heads: 30 km, 7-8 hrs (maps 22, 21)
Its now 11 km walking along the beach north. There are two issues to be aware of. First is that the area is the nesting ground for the critically threatened NZ fairy tern, the country’s most endangered bird, with a population of only about 40 birds. Their nests are simply scoops in the sand above the highest high tide mark, usually in areas with shell fragments, so as to disguise the eggs. Many eggs, and indeed chicks, are crushed because people walk on them. However, in this situation the parents are usually above you, screeching and dive bombing, so pay attention when you experience this. The birds usually nest about 1 km apart to avoid competition, so each nest is very isolated. Many of the nests are fenced off to try and ensure breeding success. Another bird that nests on the beach is the NZ dotterel, a small, long-legged bird with a brown specked back. Populations are declining where there are no active protection efforts. They commonly nest around river mouths. Which leads to the next issue:
The streams and rivers you need to cross as you walk the beach can sometimes be deep after heavy rain and/or with high tides. If you need to go inland to find a safer place to cross watch out for bird nests. In general it is preferable to avoid sand dune areas altogether for this reason. And, in the unlikely event you have a dog with you, note that they commonly destroy nests and kill chicks, so really need to be under strict control. On one stretch they are prohibited altogether.
So, head to the beach from the road end near the camping ground and cross the Pākiri River on your way north on the beach. Take plenty of water. Halfway along the Mangawhai Forest fronts onto the beach. There is a road end and then a track to take you over Te Arai Point, where there are toilets at a carpark. No camping allowed. Then you resume beach walking for 3km. A little over half way along there is a stream crossing that can be up to thigh height. Then you turn inland through another section of the Mangawhai Forest at a road end (Pacific Road), and turn right when it joins Black Swamp Rd.
After passing the Riverside Holiday Camp (one of 3 camping grounds in and around Mangawhai!) cross the estuary on the Insley St Bridge. Then turn right into Moir St, past a Four Square, then left into Molesworth Drive through Mangawhai village. As you pass an information centre (09 431 5090) and the golf course on your left turn right uphill into Findlay St to pick up a walkway around the estuary. Just past the Mangawhai Heads Holiday Park you get onto Wintle St, which takes you to the end of this section at the Mangawhai Heads carpark. For resupply in the area there are two smallish Four Squares – the one already mentioned and one at the heads (3 Wood St), plus the Mangawhai Deli at 3/7 Wood St (open Wed to Sun 9 to 3).
An alternative to walking through Mangawhai is suggested in the official notes of continuing along the beach north of Te Arai Point onto the spit and organising a boat ride across the estuary to the heads.
- Local Transport – Leabourn Shuttles, 09 423 7416, email@example.com
- Riverside Holiday Park – 41 Black Swamp Rd, 09 431 4825. Tent sites, caravans, units, kitchen, laundry, wifi and TV/games room.
- Mangawhai Travellers Rest – 4 Insley St, Mangawhai Village (opp 4 Square), 09 431 5389, 021 023 77242 (Alan/Lisa). $20-25pp bed inside, $15pp camping incl free wifi, recharging, shower and toilet.
- Hidden Estuary sleepout retreat – Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai, 021 112 6161 (Simon). Sleepout with double bed both upstairs and downstairs, use of main house bathroom or compost toilet available. Spacious grounds with private estuary front access. BBQ, kayak and surfboard also available. On Airbnb. Good price.
- Mangawhai B &B Basic cottage or camping in the orchard. 11 Longview street, just off Molesworth Drive, near shops, food and toilet at Mangawhai village. Koha of $5 pp appreciated. 021 796 496, or just show up and help yourself. Keep the gate shut to stop the pet rabbit escaping. Hosts Mark and Kerry live at 9 Longview Street.
- Tudor Oaks Motel – 47 Moir St, Mangawhai, 09 431 5393 or 027 493 1901. Close to trail. Has ‘backpacker unit’, slightly cheaper than other units, but well above a hostel price.
- Mangawhai Holiday Park – 71 Moir Street, Mangawhai, about 250m west of the trail. 09 431 5435 or 027 483 9335. No website.
- Tara Retreat – 247 Tara Rd, Mangawhai, about 3 km off trail from Insley St bridge. Cottage/caravan and glamping accommodation and a free vegetarian meal for Te Araroa walkers. Wifi, massage therapy and yoga available.
- Mangawhai Heads Holiday Park – 2 Mangawhai Heads Rd, Mangawhai Heads, 09 431 4675. Motel style units, cabins, tent sites, some right on the beach front.
- Fairways B&B – 240 Molesworth Drive, opposite the golf course, Mangawhai Heads, 09 431 4042 or 021 619 311.
- Mangawhai Lodge – 4 Heather St, Mangawhai Heads, 09 431 5311. Upmarket.
- Debbie’s Flax Studio – Mangawhai Heads Rd, 021 519 480, firstname.lastname@example.org Double bed studio, hot alfresco shower, kitchenette, tea/coffee provided. $50pp. On Airbnb.
- Mangawhai Backpackers: Coastal Cow – 299 Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai Heads, 09 431 5246; 021 0253 4500.
Always check the Trail Status pages of the official Te Araroa website for recent changes or alerts on the trail.
Last updated 12 October 2019
Header photo: Auckland central city looking north on a rainy day from Mt Eden crater