The Waitakere Ranges near Auckland in New Zealand are a chain of hills that actually runs through the Auckland Metropolitan area, making it an easy to reach, convenient destination for travellers in search of wild natural beauty, rugged cliffs and secret hidden beaches. There are also larger – not so hidden – beaches that are favorites of surfers.
The Waitakere Range receives plenty of rainfall and this has created a dense, green, almost tropical wonderland, a jungle atmosphere at stark contrast to the snowy peaks, boiling mud geysers and more temperate forests found elsewhere on the islands.
If you happen to be travelling around Australia and New Zealand try to see the lush Waitakere Range from the air; there are many charter companies offering cheap flights to Auckland and around the many scenic areas – an excellent way to get a bird’s eye view of the magnificent terrain below.
It is possible to travel from the heart of cosmopolitan Auckland to dense unspoiled rain forest in a mere 40 minutes or so, an almost surreal experience! Camping facilities are available, as are 250 kilometers of walks and trails, in addition to the Hillary Trail.
The Hillary Trail, named after that most famous New Zealand explorer, Sir Edmund Hillary, follows the range on a north-south axis and covers some 70 kilometers, perfect for a walking or hiking holiday
The Arataki Visitors Centre will provide you with a brochure and any other information you require, to ensure that you do not miss out on any of the treats waiting in the green shade of the tree canopy. Black sand beaches created from volcanic rock, mystic veils of waterfalls and the plentiful streams and brooks have created a magical setting in which a bird-watcher could easily spend hours, looking for shining kingfishers, cuckoos and tui, among the many other birds found here.
The Waitakere Ranges offers a range of activities to visitors, including fishing, swimming and surfing. The only cloud on the horizon is a lack of reliable cell-phone coverage – but, as you are on holiday, maybe that is actually one of the benefits, an excellent excuse to forget about the office dramas and simply relax!