The Waitakere Ranges are a forested mountain range West and slightly South of Auckland. They stand between the city and the West coast beaches, which are popular tourist destinations known for their black sand. Their natural beauty and mountains-to-the-sea -style gorgeous views make the ranges a destination in themselves as well. I took one trip through the Waitakeres last year and will doubtless take many more.
Today I’m at the Southern end of the Waitakere ranges near Whatipu. This is a really cool — if somewhat remote — area. There’s a few campgrounds and campsites around, but it’s definitely nowhere near as built up as the more popular destinations like Piha.
Whatipu is also rumored to be haunted. I’m writing this the day after Hallowe’en, which is probably a coincidence. I didn’t encounter any ghosts on this trip, though the trail is dodgy enough that it wouldn’t surprise me if someone were to become one on a hike around here!
The carpark — such as it is — is a gravel lot in front of a wooden kiosk (pictured, with some of the fantastic Waitakere ranges in the background). The kiosk has some of New Zealand’s trademark completely unhelpful trail maps and a few warnings about not dying. I was planning on taking the Kura Track and returning by way of the Omanawanui Track, which the guide listed as somewhat challenging. Fair enough.
This is a shot of the Whatipu Lodge, which I’m sure is hopping in the Summer. There’s some trademark microscopic birds here too; I have no idea what they are (I would call them marsh birds, but I don’t think that’s actually a thing).
There’s also a nice little picnic spot where I had my lunch. It’s adjacent to a peaceful little pond and a great view!
Afterward, I spent a few frustrated minutes trying to figure out how to get to the trail head! I decided to head across this bridge which, spoiler alert, was not the right way…but it still was, in a sense, because it took me to the beach!
This isn’t mud on the trail, it’s black sand.
Over this grassy knoll, we can sneak a peak at the beach!
Back in North Carolina, I never really considered myself a beach person. Most likely because I had not yet found a beach I loved as much as New Zealand’s beaches! That blue water, and the gradient of the blue sky…and the black sand…sublime.
There’s a couple other intrepid beachgoers, but what piqued my interest is that rock with…something…on top.
I was wearing my hiking boots rather than my sandals, and I was not enthusiastic about walking across this water and getting my feet wet before the hike; that’s a recipe for blisters. Also, truth be told, I’m not enthusiastic about heights either. Climbing that ladder to inspect whatever it is that’s up there (solar-powered lighthouse? Weather station?) was not high on my list of things I wanted to do. Sometimes I try to face my fears, but this time I decided to walk away.
Alabama ain’t got nothin’ on New Zealand’s blue skies, I can tell you that right now. But Sweet Home Waitakeres, while it has the same number of syllables, does not exactly flow as well.
And here we must bid farewell to the beach. I spent so much time posting about it that the actual hike will have to wait until next time! I’m super happy with some of the pictures I got out of that hike, and I can’t wait to share them with you!