A good place to start your New Zealand hiking vacations in
West Auckland is the Arataki Visitor Centre at the border of the
Waitakere Ranges. The centre is filled with valuable information for any hiking trip or multi day hiking tour. Displays give an insight to the Ranges' fauna and flora and the five dams that collect fresh water to distribute to Auckland's households.
The Arataki Centre is found about six kilometres from Titirangi on Scenic Drive. Follow the link to locate the Centre on Google maps. Approaching the centre a strong sense arises of the relationship between the land and NZ native Maori population. A twelve metre high pou in the middle of the building facade honours the relationship between the Te Kawerau a Maki and the Waitakere Ranges and symbolizes their guardianship of the Arataki Visitor Centre.
In the centre exhibits give inside about the role of the Waitakeres as a water reservoir, regional wild life, the efforts to maintain its biodiversity and the role regional timber milling history played in the past.
The five dams in the Waitakere Ranges were build between 1907 and 1971 and supply about 26 percent of Auckland’s fresh water needs. Their names reflect the stream that feeds them. The water treatment plants in Huia, Titirangi and Swanson take their raw water for treatment and distribution.
Show cases provide the chance to encounter the dark loving reptiles like the ancient weta or chameleon like geckos. Other displays remind on rare species like the kauri snail or complete extinct ones like the moa bird. While interactive stations educate to distinguish native birds and their song on planned hiking topurs or hiking trips. Some of the widely known Ne Zealand bird species are the kereru, tui, and fantail. As a reminder to how fragile our ecosystem is and how much effort from volunteers goes in to maintain it introduced pests like the possums, stoats, ferrets and rats find mentioning too. A close by educational nature trail gives information about the rich plant life.
The centre also works as an information hub for all the hiking trips and multi day hiking tours with their overnight stays on camp-sites or lodges within the Ranges or in one of the other 26 Regional Parks around Auckland. Trampers may even start their adventure vacation with the four days and three nights Hillary Trail from the Arataki Centre. Experienced staff of the centre can of course assist you by planning this multi day hiking tour on your hiking vacations. They also offer advice about suitability of shorter or longer bush walks as well as information on guided tours throughout the extended net of more than 250 kilometres of tracks.
Exploring the region independently on your own terms may require a car. Auto rental New Zealand is a flexible way to travel. Choose budget or premium vehicles for all travel purposes. Use them local or long distance, one way or in a loop or combine them with other means of travelling. More information about the parks all around Auckland is found on the website of the Auckland Regional Council.
Encountered flora on a bush walk....