Summary: Wanting to get away from the urban area, we took a day trip to visit the beautiful beaches of West Auckland. By renting a car for the day, we road-tripped it, stopping several places along the way for either short hikes, or a mellow walk along the beach. Stops included Kitekite Falls track, Mercer Bay Loop, Piha Beach, and Karekare Beach. Only 45 minutes from Auckland, this sparsely populated area of the North Island embraces the mellow, quiet beach life and makes for a great break from hustle and bustle of central Auckland.
Kitekite Falls Track. After picking up our rental car in central Auckland, we headed West. Our first stop, roughly 45 minutes later, was at Kitekite Falls Track. This out-and-back trail is just 1.5 miles and is well-maintained. It is a pleasant, short hike, that is accessible to hikers of all ages. There are a few steps to contend with, but most of the hike is flat and easy and great for families with small kids. At the end of the trail sits Kitekite Falls. You can swim here or just sit back and enjoy the waterfall like we did.
Note: This path is currently closed due to damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle which hit just one month after our visit. Check the website for updates on trail repairs.
Out to the Coast. Next we headed further West until we hit the coastline, stopping along side of the road to capture a picture of this beautiful place.
Mercer Bay Loop. Once on the coast, we wanted to walk along the shoreline so we stopped to walk the Mercer Bay Loop. At just 1.3 miles in length, this is also an easy, short hike that is accessible to most hikers and kids of all ages. Parking is available at the trail head.
Piha Beach. Our next stop was at Piha Beach. Lion Rock (show below), divides the North and South portions of Piha Beach. We took a stroll along this scenic spot before hopping back into the car where we had a picnic lunch. We did not see many places to eat so packing lunch is probably advisable when visiting West Auckland.
Karekare Beach. Apparently there a falls here where they filmed the movie, The Piano. But we somehow missed them, likely due to the fact that we didn't spend much time here. The freshwater creek that runs between the car park and the beach was high that day so we just viewed the beach from afar. This beach is also the location of Karekare Surf Life Saving Club house. Coming across the tablet (photo below), made us do a quick internet search to learn more. This very cool, all-volunteer organization, is part of a larger 74-club organization which provides lifeguards across this island nation's beaches.
Not pictured in this blog, unfortunately, is a stop at a local ice cream shop before heading back to Auckland to return our car at the end of our West Auckalnd day trip. New Zealanders have their ice cream down pat!