From the tranquillity of the inland forest of the Waitakere Ranges you will witness the raw power of pounding surf on Piha Beach, situated on Auckland’s West Coast.
Rugged majestic cliffs are on either side of the iconic Lion Rock which juts out from the black sand, between Piha and North Piha beaches. People who climb Lion Rock will have spectacular views in all directions.
There are several cafés close to the beach if you just want to relax, get a drink and a bite to eat, there is also a very good art gallery close by that sells local art and has exhibitions regularly. The laid-back seaside village of Piha is just 45 minutes drive from Auckland’s CBD.
At Ihumâtao, north of Auckland International Airport there is an ancient Kauri forest that was buried by tuff from the Maungataketake volcano which erupted thousands of years ago.
The fossilised forest has since been hollowed out by wave action from the Manukau Harbour and is now exposed at low tide. In the mudflats you will see the remains of these huge kauri trees, and other fossilised tree trunks are clearly visible standing upright in the adjacent eroding cliffs.
It is well worth a look if you are staying close to the airport and it is easily accessible at low tide.
Join us on this easy guided tour across one of the largest volcanic cones in the Auckland region, Mângere Mountain also known as Te Pane a Mataaho (the head of Mataaho).
Mângere Mountain was the site of a major Mâori Pâ (fortified village) and there are many earthworks and archaeological features that remain today including these beautiful kumara (sweet potato) storage pits.
When Mâori were living on the mountain these kumara storage pits would have been covered over to keep the tubers cool and dry during the winter months. Kumara were an important food source and the tubers were also kept for planting in the spring.
You can just imagine the hive of activity as food was gathered and stored. It would have been an amazing sight and we are so privileged to still have these well-formed kumara pits on our mountain close to where we live.
The koru or (loop) is often used by the Mâori people of New Zealand/Aotearoa. It is based on the fern leaf that can be seen in the forest. A koru is used in Mâori art as a metaphor and symbol for new beginnings, creation, growth, strength, peace and harmony.
The Kiko Guided Tours logo alludes to this whakaaro (idea) and the "O" is a stylised representation.
This new unfurling fern leaf was adjacent to the track we walked on. I just love the simplicity of form.
Stretches of beautiful black sand beaches, deep blue waters, and rugged clifftops. Soak up the spectacular scenery and admire the rich and abundant birdlife. If you are looking for a magical day out you can’t go past Muriwai on Auckland’s West Coast. There is a gentle walking track to a viewing platform on Otakamiro Point, right above the site of one of our few mainland gannet (breeding) colonies. It truly is magical.
Karekare is an absolutely spectacular West Coast beach. It is just south of another of Auckland’s famous beaches Piha. You can really feel the isolation and rawness of the place. There are generally less people and the beach is pristine. Dramatic towering cliffs rise vertically above a beautiful black sand beach that seems to stretch forever into the distance. There are some excellent coastal walking tracks through wetlands and sand dunes that take you onto this stunning beach.
And Kiko Guided Tours can take you there. This place is a must visit for keen photographers. You will not be disappointed.
When walking in the New Zealand forest you will often see epiphytes, (by definition an epiphyte is a plant that grows on another plant or tree). Epiphytes can be seen within the forest canopy of the Waitakere Ranges, and they are often perched at various heights amongst the branches of other trees. They rely on suspended leaf matter, bark and composting soils for nutrients and moisture and have evolved successfully to retain water to lessen the effect of evaporation.
Just look above you and you will discover these beautiful “tree-huggers”.
Râtâ is considered a chiefly tree (râkau rangatira) by Mâori and was highly prized for making weapons, paddles and flutes due to the tree’s hardness and durability. The nectar was used by Mâori as a food and a medicinal remedy and is known to have good antiseptic qualities. Native birds such as tûî, bellbird and kâkâ also benefit from the nectar.
Râtâ have glossy leaves and the trunks are gnarled and twisted. Râtâ usually begin life as an epiphyte (a small plant perched on a host tree) high in the forest canopy. Its roots grow down to the ground, and eventually enclose the host tree to become a huge tree of up to 25 metres high.
The brilliant red flowers appear during the summer period and are absolutely stunning in contrast with the green leafy background of the forest.
Often it is worth stopping when you are out walking to look at what is around you. There are these little ecosystems of untouched beauty that are growing everywhere amongst the undergrowth along the edges of tracks.
These little plants were nestled amongst fallen tree trunks. I love the way the sunlight has been filtered through the leaves to create a palette of light greens.
These cleaning stations are at most entrances to the tracks throughout the Waitakere ranges and are really user friendly. The visual and written information regarding Kauri dieback is very interesting and incredibly helpful. Kauri dieback is a disease that is gradually killing off our magnificent Kauri trees. As yet there is no cure and mitigating the spread of the disease by cleaning your boots, walking poles and any other equipment will help.
Help stop Kauri Die-back.
Clean you gear and stay on the tracks.