Tawharanui Ecology Trail
Time: 2 hours (or 1 hour for the very fit)
There is one easy walking choice for me if I have a friend visiting from out of town, and that is the Ecology Trail at Tawharanui. It encapsulates all that is beautiful and special about our coast and the birdsong is a joy. Nearly everyone can manage it and the views of the outer Hauraki Gulf are spectacular.
If you need an easier walk, try the bush trail at Parry Kauri Park, or, if you are more of a hiker, the Dome Valley carpark to Govan Wilson Road trail is a challenging but beautiful 14km day trip.
We are spoilt for choice in our region so check the Auckland Council and Department of Conservation websites for more wonderful options or for organised trips visit
Matakana Bike Trails
Time: About 1 hour
This ride has been established by the Matakana Cycle Trail Trust and takes you from Matakana to Omaha and Point Wells. The ride is recommended for more confident cyclists as it includes sections on gravel roads.
It includes a mix of off-road shared paths, cycle lanes and quiet roads with 50km–70km hour speed limit. Caution is required if crossing Matakana bridge from the township which is shared with traffic.
For younger family members, the trail to Jones Road from Omaha including Point Wells is completely flat.
Matakana Bikes is located at the Matakana Country Park. Since 2010 they offer full workshops, bike hire and stock a wide range of cycling accessories, from tyres to helmets. Owner Paull is a Shimano approved mechanic.
Mangawhai walking trails
Cliff Top Walk 2-3 hours or 3 hours either side of low tide to complete the loop.
Mangawhai is located on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway just 80 minutes drive from Auckland CBD. Turn to the right off SH1 at Wayby Valley Road, just where the speed limit changes from 80 to 100kph and follow the signs to Mangawhai.
From Whangarei it is 50 minutes south. Turn off SH1 at Waipu. You can park at the Mangawhai Surf Life Saving Club car park. The track is signposted from there. The loop can be walked in either direction with many locals preferring to walk the beach first as the views can be better with the sun behind you.
For more on walking in the Mangawhai area and organised trips visit www.mangawhaiwalking.co.nz
Tawharanui Bike Trail
Distance: 5.0 km
Time: 45 minutes
Set on a remote peninsula, Tāwharanui Regional Park boasts some of the Auckland regions most beautiful white sand beaches, rolling pastures, shingled bays, native coastal forest and regenerating wetlands. Tāwharanui is New Zealand’s first open sanctuary integrating conservation, recreation and farming.
This multi-use walking and mountain biking track starts at Anchor Bay and heads for the western end of the park. The track passes through the pest proof fence for unique views of the coastline, nearby islands and the park itself. Walkers return via the golden sand beach for which Tawharanui is famous. Mountain bikers return via the park vehicle track. Follow the blue marker post. Please note there is no pushchair or wheelchair access.