Short Walk. A beautiful introduction to the flora and fauna of the Waitakere Ranges and a great addition to any visit to the Arataki Visitor Centre. The track is really a network of three gravelled loop walks. The Identification Loop is short and level, while the upper and lower loops contain graded descents and ascents. Making your way to the kauri knoll at the end of the lower track is recommended as a great example of remnant Kauri forest. 1.6km. (Source).
From the Arataki Visitor Center follow the path past the Education Center (eg head AWAY from the ice cream stand) and veer left towards the art filled under road tunnel. Once through the tunnel turn left and you’ll see the shoe cleaning station straight ahead. This is the official start of the Arataki Nature Trail and Plant I.D Loop.
This is one for the entire family, in fact last time we visited I saw a family group of three generations (think parents pushing kids in a pram with their parents following alongside with walking frames). I’ll be honest though and say they probably went as far as the Plant ID trail because some of the ascents on the Upper and Lower loops are quite steep even Isabelle, who is the “harder” of my two kids (although you wouldn’t guess it by looks alone) get’s a tow up some of the steeper sections.
The nature trail comprises three sections – The Upper and Lower Loops and the short Plant ID loop which veers off from the main trail on the right just past the clearing with the shelter.
The Plant ID trail is a level loop with a number of trees and plants with accompanying plaques to help identify them. Isabelle likes to practice her Maori pronunciation by reading these plaques and then we have a competition to see who can find the real life version of the picture first.
On the other hand both the Upper and Lower loops are undulating walks following gravel pathways to the numerous viewing platforms and/or information boards en route. There are both boardwalks to help navigate some of the wetter areas and there are stairs at the Kauri Knoll.
At the very far end of the trail is the Kauri Cathedral. To get to it you ascend a very steep incline to arrive at a ground level viewing platform among a “Cathedral of Kauri”. In my opinion unless you are a tourist and this is your one and only chance to see our Kauri trees – don’t bother … There are far more impressive stands of Kauri in the Waitakere Ranges which are much easier to get too.
The section I think is by far and away the coolest on the Nature Trail is named “Wet Feet” – thankfully it doesn’t mean that you will get wet feet (although both Isabelle and I were prepared for just that) in this case wet feet refers to the buttressed roots of the Kahikatea tree which intertwines with its neighbours for support in unstable swampy ground. In fact before reading the information board located here I didn’t even know that the Kahikatea was our tallest native tree! I’d always just assumed it was the Kauri which I’ve now come to realise are our largest native tree in girth, not height.
Isabelle’s favorite section was a random bench seat in the middle of nowhere ..
Apparently its “soooooo cuuuuute”
Each to his own I guess. 😉
The other stuff;
Location – 300 Scenic Drive, 6km from Titirangi
Directions (from the CBD) – Take State Highway 16 (north western motorway) and head west. Take Exit 2 onto Great North Road and follow signs to Titirangi. Drive through Titirangi Village and at the roundabout, take the Scenic Drive exit. Continue for 6km and the visitor centre is on the left.
Parking? – Yes (very large)
Toilet Facilities? – Yes, located inside the visitor center.
Kid Friendly? – Yes, very much so, in fact I’d be surprised if you didn’t see a multitude of kids out enjoying a walk in nature.
Till next time