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by Shaye Boddington

Things To Do in Auckland: The Hillary Trail (Let Your Mind Be Blown!)

When people think about things to do in Auckland (New Zealand's largest and busiest city) - a mind blowingly beautiful hike might not be the first thing that comes to mind. And that is just another reason why I freaking love this country so much... Drive 40 minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city center and you get to the starting point of this trail...

I mean come on? WTF right? How can such a little country be so scenically blessed!

The Hillary Trail: A Must Do Auckland Attraction

The Hillary Trail is a ridiculously stunning multi-day hike in the remote wilderness of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The entire hike takes 4 days (stay 3 nights) and each day is packed with breathtaking scenery ranging from dense forest to vast sand dunes and ocean vistas.

When I did the Hillary trail I wasn't expecting a lot - but my mind was blown. There were multiple moments where my jaw literally dropped and I stood there having having my famous WTF-moment (As in What the ****, how is it possible to be so beautiful!). I live 20 minutes from the start of the hike and I kept thinking "How did I not know about this place!".

The trail starts at the Arataki Visitor Center (300 Scenic Drive, Waitakere) and finishes at Muriwai Beach. 4 days of scenic bliss. I will warn you though, if you don't come out of it having a booty like Beyonce or a butt like Beckham - you probably never will. The full 4 day hike is a workout and reasonable fitness is definitely a bonus.

Here's a photo of me resting my tired booty with Whatipu Beach in the background... So rugged. (Me, that is).

auckland sightseeing


Looking for Smaller Snippets of Scenic Splendor?

If you're not quite ready for your Beyonce butt - you could choose to do a smaller section of the hike. This could be 1, 2 or 3 days. The section of the trail that we did most recently (and got all the photos in this article from) was 2 days, 1 night. We started at Karamatura (Located on Huia Road, just before the Huia Settlers Museum) and did a really big hike to get to Pararaha Campground that day. We walked at a steady pace for about 6-7 hours. It was magnificent and definitely a stunning part of the Hillary Trail. The Pararaha Campground was beautiful too - and like all the DOC campsites (Department of Conservation) it can be booked online at their website.

This campsite has a nice covered area to cook, running water (needs to be boiled) and a composting toilet (breathing while using it is optional). Oh, it also has a stream running alongside and is set in a lush forest clad valley... A little bit awesome...

auckland hike

auckland sightseeing


..And just when you think you've seen the best the Hillary trail has to offer you head on from Pararaha campsite towards Karekare beach. Your mind is blown again (so blown that you're forced into a handstand!)...

auckland beach


Between Pararaha and Karekare, the rugged hills hit the wild oceans of Auckland's west coast. This part of the walk is a pretty easy 2 hours and contains never ending awe inspiring scenery. So much beauty in such a small section of the Hillary Trail!

Yes, you need to walk a little bit for it, but to me, this is Auckland sightseeing at its best...

auckland beach

auckland beach


Bite Sized Hillary Trail Experiences...

If your Auckland trip is on the skimpy side of things in terms of time - A day trip out to Karekare beach and a walk to the Pararaha Campsite for lunch would be a 10/10 way to spend the day!

Another option is to do the part of the Hillary trail that stretches from Te Henga (Bethells) Beach to Muriwai Beach. This walk follows the cliff line along the coast and is equally amazing. You would probably want to organise a ride in and out, or hitchhike - because doing a return walk in a day would be a bit full on. It's an enjoyable 1/2 day walk.

If your fitness levels are pretty high, you can go on a full day mission from Piha Beach to Muriwai beach - again this stunning part of the trail follows the cliffs and forests along the rugged coastline. I've never done it in one day myself, but have been told that having a juicy Orange waiting for you at the other size is better than any orgasm you'll ever experience.


Plan Your Trip

Yes, the Hillary trail is parked up beautifully in Auckland - a modern and busy city - but don't let this fool you! The Waitakere Ranges are a remote wilderness and you need to plan your trip and pack well. Auckland Regional Council have an excellent planning guide and a whole lot more information on the Hillary Trail. I'd recommend you read as much of it as you can before embarking on your adventure. Find out more here and watch the video below...




If you're seeking adventure travel in Auckland - The Hillary Trail is without a doubt one of my #1 suggestions! Add it into your itinerary along with canyoning and kayaking (from Auckland city to one of the outer Islands!) - and you're in for a treat of a time!

I hope you enjoy the wild side of this magnificent city - I know I do :)