Sensational side trips from Auckland #2: Hunua Ranges

You don’t have to travel far from the city to find yourself in the wop-wops (that’s what we Kiwis call the back of beyond). Sitting to the south of Auckland, and about an hour’s drive from the centre, the Hunua Ranges are Auckland’s largest forested landscape. They’re a great place to head for a spot of walking, mountain biking or a family picnic.

On your bike
Several mountain bike trails wind their way though the park. Beginner riders will enjoy the 14km Valley Loop Track, which starts at the Mangatawhiri car park. Take your togs, as there are lots of swimming spots in the river along the way.

For a more challenging ride, hit up the Mangatawhiri Challenge Track – 15 kms of ridge-riding and singletrack.

On foot
The Cossey/Massey Loop is a 5km loop walk offering panoramic views, giant kauri trees and a spot of rock hopping across Cossey Creek. The Hunua Falls Loop Walk is a gentle, 20 minute amble through lush forest.

Wildlife spotting
Keep your ears pricked for the beautiful call of the kokako bird. The Hunua Ranges are the only location in mainland Auckland where you’ll find this rare bird. The park is also home to Hochstetter’s frog, the world’s most primitive – and unusual – amphibian. Completely silent and without webbed feet, its also extremely well camouflaged – you’ll need eagle eyes (and a fair amount of luck) to catch a glimpse of one.

Take a picnic
Picnic spots abound throughout the park. The Hunua Falls are a popular snack site, or head to the Wairoa Reservoir.

Stay the night
Camping is permitted in the park and campervans with a Self-Containment Certificate can stay overnight in selected car parks. Head here for more information.

Getting there
Head south on State Highway 1 and take the Papakura exit. Follow Beach Road across Great South Road and along Settlement Road. At the Edmund Hillary School, turn right into Hunua Road. Follow Hunua Road through the Hunua Gorge to the Hunua village.

Hunua Falls: Just before you enter the village, turn left into White Road, then right into Falls Road and follow this road to Hunua Falls.

Wairoa and Mangatawhiri Dam: Drive through Hunua village, continue for a further 8km and then turn left into Moumoukai Road. Wairoa Dam is on the left about 1km along this road. Mangatawhiri Dam is at the Moumoukai Road.

Need mountain bike hire for the park? Allow us! Head to our hire page to see our great range of off-road beasts.