“Yeah Omanawanui, that’s fucking SICK up there, best views in, like, the whole fucking park!”
“This bit though, that’s just fucked. Just not made for pedestrians aye, don’t go down through there, it’s fucked up. The trail comes over the top of Kitekite falls instead. Yeah that’s fucking sick too.”
Driving a (borrowed) black BMW SUV doesn’t give off the greatest first impression around here – we must have really looked like out-of-place city slickers. However, even through his bolshy (if not frosty) initial reception, the man in the local Piha store’s enthusiasm and love for his local area shone through. Once we got him going, he started to rave about how wonderful the Waitakere ranges were to walk and hunt regardless of the weather, despite its perceived inferiority to New Zealand’s other great parks.
“Yeah man, I reckon one of the best times to go up to Karekare is when it’s like this!”. He pointed out the window as we tried to hide our perplexed looks. “You know, when it’s SHIT!”.
And while he could have chosen more eloquent words, it was clear that he thought this gem was unparalleled. Of course, as this was where we learned to trail run and learned to love trail running, we nodded and chimed in when we could, hopeful that we’d convey that we were almost real Piha locals.
Luckily the rain eased off over the week but after our 77km epic we both agreed that wild weather on Auckland’s west coast creates an appealing layer of beauty. With stunning vistas of gusty fronts rolling over one another from the Tasman sea and piercing sunbeams through the gaps of cloud, it would almost be a shame if the horizons were clear and blue. The weather over the week meant that many of the trails were sloppy and perhaps more suited to tobogganing. On ‘The Great British Bake Off’ series, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry normally send you home for producing a soggy bottom. In our case, we came home to get one. Mud and bog come included free when running in the New Zealand winter and we were happy to embrace it, I mean otherwise we’d quickly get pretty sour about the whole ordeal.
Written by Jeff
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From Arataki visitors centre to Muriwai beach this trail crosses through some of the best trails that Auckland has to offer.
It is almost essential to drive to the start point and get picked up at the other end as there is no public transport available (it’s a long drive between the start and finish too). We started at 6:30am and finished the first day just as the sun set, the second day was much easier and we had some friends meet us on the final Te Henga walkway stretch to help us finish off the trail.
Length: 77km (45km/32km)
Duration: 2 days, 1 night (we were lucky enough to spend the night at Piha at Rosie’s family bach and we recommend staying at Piha the night before too).
Difficulty: Nightmares about slipping over by night, plenty of cursing by day