Given its wonderful geographical location, nestled between sand, sea, and mountains, it’s no surprise that Auckland is home to a number of unforgettable walks. In fact, the sheer number of day hikes near Auckland means it can be a bit of a stress trying to figure out what the best ones for you are. While most are easily accessible and not too strenuous, some of the walks will make you forget you’re less than an hour from the bustling centre of a global city. If you’re keen to see the best of Auckland by foot then read ahead for our guide to the best day hikes in Auckland.
Mt Eden Volcano Walk
When it comes to Auckland day hikes, there’s none more iconic than the Mt Eden walk. Around 2k, it only takes an hour to complete, but it’s just 5km from the heady heights of the Sky Tower and provides astounding panoramic views of New Zealand’s biggest metropolitan centre, all without you having to travel too far out.
Totara Park – Totara Puhinui Creek Path & Totara Bridle Path
This huge expanse of nature is home to bush walks, mountain biking trails, and even pools to swim in. Easily accessible by car, there are also plenty of amenities in the busier areas of the park, including spaces for barbecues and picnic tables, making this the perfect family day out.
There are two main walks in the park. The Creek Path is a short, mostly flat path that flanks the forest in the centre of the park. It should take under an hour to get through and is ideal for those with children or people who struggle with extended periods of exertion.
On the walk you’ll get the chance to see some beautiful flora and fauna, especially birds. There’s also a playground at the end, so you can rest while the kids burn out the last of their energy.
The Bridle Path is a bit longer but slightly quieter. A favourite among dog walkers and the occasional horse rider, you’ll go through some wetland where you’ll get the chance to see some cool local wildlife. The end of the walk is a bit steep, but other than that it’s quite flat so should be suitable for most. If you’re looking for a day hike near Auckland that also has plenty of other activities around, Totara Park is the place to head.
Rangitoto Island Walks
Around a thirty-minute ferry from Auckland, Rangitoto Island is home to several stunning walks that take in the scenery of the volcanic island, as well as offering great views of the rising cityscape in the distance. The island itself is relatively new, having emerged from the sea around 600 years ago, so it’s a great spot if you’re a bit of a geology nerd. There are dozens of walks on the island, with many suitable for families or those who are less keen hikers.
Some of the longer walks can be up to five hours in length, so make sure to pack plenty of food and water if you’re taking them on. The most popular walk is the Rangitoto Summit walk. A simple climb that takes you through the lush greenery and young lava fields that make up the island, the 7km climb should take around two hours to complete (including a return).
The paths are all well-formed, although if you want to challenge yourself a bit you can take the Wilson Park Track which branches off the main walk and goes over broken lava fields.
Waitakere National Park
There are an endless number of day hikes in this stunning national park that borders the south west of the metropolitan region. The mountainous topology is complemented by thick greenery and an abundance of unique wildlife, making any day trip here a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Upper Huia Reservoir Track is less than a forty-minute drive from the centre of the city and takes around four hours to complete. It’s doable with kids or those who are less adept at hiking, and has mostly paved paths, although there are some uneven areas. The walk itself is full of natural splendour, as well as some feats of human ingenuity: there are two dams and an abandoned mine on the trail for you to take a gander at.
If you want a really unique hiking experience, the Whatipu Caves Track is right at the western end of the park and mixes stunning scenery with some minor caving. It can get a bit muddy, but generally speaking it’s not too hard a trek – unless it rains, at which point the walk tends to be closed for safety purposes.
Our final recommendation for a walk in this stunning park is the Te Henga walkway. The route goes along the cliffside and delivers some unforgettable views of the west coast. Moreover, the trek can be made longer or shorter depending on what you feel like on the day, so experienced hikers can take in the full ten-kilometres, which includes trekking past lagoons and mountains, while those who prefer to take it easy can work up a sweat and head back a bit earlier.
This long coastal walk will allow you to trek through bush, beach, and city. The walk length and direction depends on the sea: at low tide, you can hug the coast, but at high tide there are a series of different routes you can meander through. The walk itself takes around five-hours if you do the whole thing, but can also be split into four smaller loops if you’re with kids or don’t fancy too much exercise: Wattle Bay Loop, Cape Horn Lookout Loop, Captains Bush Reserve Loop, and Hillsborough Cemetery Loop. Each of these has their own benefits, but one thing’s for sure: no matter where you go on the Waikōwhai Walkway, you’ll be blown away by Auckland’s natural scenery.
Less than an hour from Auckland city centre, the Goldie Bush walkway crosses streams and some other unique terrain you only really get in New Zealand. Hilly but not too lung-busting, you can push yourself to get this done in two to three hours, but we think it’s better to take your time and smell the roses (metaphorically speaking, of course – although plenty of the plant life on offer is much more interesting than roses).
A highlight of the walk is Mokoroa Falls, a pair of gorgeous, secluded waterfalls surrounded by lush greenery. They’re about halfway through the trek, just when you’ll be desperate for something refreshing. A great walk for anyone, regardless of hiking prowess.