Waitakere Ranges Regional Park#4 in Best Things To Do in Auckland
Tucked along the North Island's west coast less than 17 miles away from the city center, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park boasts 40,000 acres of forest and beaches. Everything from hiking and biking to bird-watching and strolling along the park's black sand beaches can be enjoyed here. Must-see landscapes in this sprawling parkland include Piha and Whatipu's beaches and Fairy Falls waterfall.
According to recent travelers, the Waitakere Ranges cannot be missed. Though past visitors said the views alone were worth the drive, outdoor enthusiasts will also enjoy the park's hiking trails. But remember, most forested parts of the park, including their paths, are closed until further notice due to a kauri dieback epidemic that has infected some of the park's kauri trees.
The easiest way to reach Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is to drive. There is no entrance fee, and complimentary parking is available in select areas. Most visitors choose to spend a half or full day at the park, but travelers can also stay in one of the on-site campsites. Restrooms and picnic areas are spread throughout the park. Pedestrians are welcome 24 hours a day, while drivers can visit between 6 a.m. and 6 or 9 p.m. To learn more about Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, stop by the Arataki Visitor Centre (open daily from 9 or 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m.) or check out the park's website.
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#1 Rangitoto Island
Situated just off the coast of central Auckland across from Devonport is Rangitoto Island, a volcanic island known for its superb hiking trails and panoramic views. Multiple trails are available for island exploration, including the popular Summit Track, which takes hikers through lava fields and the world's largest pohutukawa forest to the island's summit.
Prepare for stunning vistas and a steep, yet doable hike when visiting Rangitoto Island. If you're not keen on hiking, travelers recommend opting for Fullers' Volcanic Explorer Tour, which includes round-trip ferry transfers to and from downtown Auckland and a four-wheel drive road train tour of the island.
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