Five stunning scenic walks in Auckland

From the bush to the beach and beyond, stretch your legs and enjoy some of the best scenic walks in Auckland.

  • Author

    Discover Auckland
  • Last updated

    Apr 2024
  • Time to read

    7 mins

Looking for a super scenic Auckland walk? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s five of the best must-do walks in and around Tāmaki Makaurau. Whether you’re keen on a coastal trek, a forestwander, a beachy stroll or a bushwalk filled with birdsong, we’ve got you covered.

Stroll through Alice Eaves Scenic Reserve

Let’s start with an easy breezy bushwalk at Alice Eaves Scenic Reserve. This 16ha remnant of coastal forest can be found at the northern end of Ōrewa, a coastal town 40km north of central Auckland. Here you’ll find a peaceful series of bush trails where the only sounds you’ll hear will be birdsong accompanied by a breeze in the branches.

With a combination of cleverly constructed boardwalks, gravel paths and some stairs, you can spend an hour or so strolling in the shade of mature trees, and thoughtful signage will help you identify the broad range of tree species. Catch glimpses of the wide blue ocean peeking between the trunks, then once you’re done, head back to Ōrewa Beach for a swim, an ice cream or a meal at one of the many fine seaside eateries found in the town.

Level: Easy walking, but there are steps. 
Highlights: A good little leg-stretcher for lovers of trees, birdlife and tranquillity.

Explore Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto Island erupted on to the scene just 600 years ago, and today it’s one of Auckland’s most photographed volcanic peaks. Visible from many vantage points around the wider region, visitors can make their way to this island on a Fullers ferry. The journey takes 25 minutes from downtown Auckland, with several sailings each morning and afternoon.

Once on the island, you can choose between short trails that meander the lower slopes, or you can opt for a heartier hike that will see you walking much of the day. The most popular trail tends to be the 7km, two-hour summit track, where boardwalks and scoria paths lead through verdant bush– including the world’s largest pōhutukawa forest. This impressive tree is often referred to as New Zealand’s Christmas tree, and if you visit in December when they’re in bloom, the abundance of crimson flowers will blow your mind!

Once you reach Rangitoto’s summit – an impressive 259m above sea level– you’ll be enchanted by sensational views of Auckland’s skyline and across the Hauraki Gulf. But please be aware, there are no shops or cafes on Rangitoto, so you’ll need to pack all the sustenance you require for an active day trip, as well as sunscreen and appropriate clothing for the elements, from swimsuits and sweaters to sturdy shoes and rain gear.

Level: Take the easy option and simply stroll round the lower slopes, or get a decent sweat on with a hike to the summit– but do keep an eye on the time so you don’t miss the last ferry of the day, as there’s no accommodation here and the water taxi will cost you more than the ferry.
Highlights: Rangitoto is for geology geeks, nature lovers and history buffs. Instagrammers love it too!

Trek the Coast to Coast Walkway

The impressive 16km Coast to Coast Walkway connects the regions Waitematā and Manukau Harbours. Starting (or finishing, depending on your direction) at Te Wero Bridge in the vibrant Viaduct district of downtown Auckland, this hike makes its way across the isthmus to Taumanu Reserve in Onehunga and features many of Auckland’s greatest sights.

During this charming urban walk, you’ll discover pretty city parks, bush paths and playgrounds, and you’ll also get to see some of Auckland’s picturesque volcanic peaks up close, from Maungawhau / Mt Eden to Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill. Other highlights include Grafton Gully and Pukekawa / Auckland Domain (home of Auckland War Memorial Museum), as well as Albert ParkCornwall Park and Jellicoe Park.

Bursting with sites of historical and geological interest, the Coast to Coast Walkway takes about five hours end to end, or you can just do a segment, with plenty of places to stop and rest along the way. This walk also forms part of the remarkable Te Araroa trail, the long-distance track that runs the length of the country. This means this path is well signposted, so keep your eyes peeled for markers.

Level: You’ll need a moderate to high level of fitness to walk all 16km in one go. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and have plenty of sunscreen, snacks and water on hand although there are lots of places to find food and drink along the trail.
Highlights: The views from the top of various summits are inspiring, as is the joy of experiencing a cross section of Auckland’s myriad charms.

To walk or not to walk at Shakespear Regional Park

Head 50km north of the city and you’ll find the 5km Shakespear Tiritiri Path, a little beauty of a wander that has everything from clifftop coastal views to regenerating native forest, and a handful of spectacular lookout points too. Start your adventure at Te Haruhi Bay, then follow the red markers through a grassy paddock that leads to a steep farm track. You may huff and puff from this point, but the stunning views will make it worth the effort. Once at the top, a gravel path will lead you along the coastline where you should spy all sorts of native birds, including matuku moana (white-faced heron) and adorable tūturiwhatu (dotterel).

Looking further out to sea, you can gaze upon the wildlife sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi Island, another splendid place for lovers of bird life, trees and walks. On the last leg of this track, you’ll head back along farmland where sheep lazily crop the grass, before returning to Te Haruhi Bay where you can enjoy a swim, a picnic or a snooze in the shade.

Level: Easy walking, but it can be muddy in winter. Please also be respectful of the farm animals.
Highlights: Unspoiled coastal trails, birdlife and sweeping views of coastal Auckland including Rakino and Rangitoto islands, Wenderholm and Mahurangi Regional Parks.

Wander in West Auckland

Scenic West Auckland is home to black-sand beaches, luxurious rainforest and a captivating network of walking trails. So what will be? Perhaps you simply fancy a lively stroll along the beaches at Te Henga / Bethells, Muriwai or Piha? Or maybe you’ve set your sights on one of the many treasured hiking trails? Mercer Bay Loop Track is a popular choice – at just 2.5km, this clifftop path departs from Log Race Road in Piha and walkers can admire Te Ahua headland, regenerating forest and sweeping views of the boisterous Tasman Sea.

Arataki Visitor Centre at 300 Scenic Drive is also an excellent place to begin your walking adventures in the west as it’s the gateway to Waitākere Ranges Regional Park.Here you can talk to experts about the hiking trails that best suit you. The visitor centre also teaches visitors about cultural and ecological landscapes, and hosts nature activities and art exhibitions. 

Please note that access to Arataki Visitor Centre is currently only open from the Titirangi end of Scenic Drive.

Level: Walks in West Auckland come in a variety of difficulty levels, and many of them are suitable for wheelchairs or strollers. You can take it easy on short trailers, or challenge yourself on tougher routes.
Highlights: Beaches, bird life, magnificent forests, waterfalls. There are also lots of options if you want to stay or dine nearby.

Please note: Wherever you go walking in Auckland, check ahead to ensure the trail you want to walk is open. Please also follow guidelines to help stop the spread of kauri dieback, a devastating disease that threatens these treasured native trees.

Written by Discover Auckland

Last updated 10 Apr 2024

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