West End Trail – Tawharanui Regional Park
This multi-use walking and mountain biking track starts at Anchor Bay and heads for the western end of the park. The track passes through the pest proof fence for unique views of the coastline, nearby islands and the park itself. Walkers return via the golden sand beach for which Tawharanui is famous. Mountain bikers return via the park vehicle track. Follow the blue marker post. 6km. (Source)
I started this trail from Bay 5 of the Tawharanui Tents Only Campground (which is the furthest bay from the campground entrance). I looked at the map repeatedly as the trail seemed to go directly through the campground which didn’t quite make sense as I could see it returned via the beach. It turns out that the trail actually traverses the HUGE ARSE hills that run behind the campground so after heading towards the main car park I was turned back in the direction to which I’d come.
For those of you whom like me start this trail from the campground there is actually a short cut to reach the hill behind, it’s not signposted but it’s a very clear “path” that heads turns right and heads towards the hills. Once there (as there is no signage) you’ll turn right and directly up what has to be the steepest hill I have ever seen in my life! If you miss this turn off or don’t want to miss out on climbing one hill (who are you?!?!) you’ll continue towards the main beach, climb up the second access way and at the top (to your right) you’ll see the West End Trail signage. By the way, the only toilets you will pass are located here. So stop now if you have too.
From here it’s pretty much just lots of climbing up hills and descending them. The only section where I literally walked around in a circles with my map looking bewildered was when I hit the campground driveway, so to save you the hassle, turn left follow the driveway to head away from the campground. You won’t see any trail signage for quite some time. Approximately 50m’s away from the locked campground entrance you’ll turn right and climb yet other big arse hill, if you reach the gate, turn around and look for the turn off on your left.
This section eventually reaches the predator proof fence, so expect a lot of climbing! The marker poles are a little hit and miss but as you can see the predator fence way off in the distance so as long as you’re heading towards it – all good. 😉 The closer you get to the fence line the more impressive it is! Once through the predator proof fence (after cleaning your footwear of course) following the fence back down the hill towards the beach is perhaps the best section of the entire trail. The way the fence line snakes it’s way down towards the sea is quite a spectacular sight! Although I will note that it looks like this section is EXTREMELY muddy in winter and I’m not sure I’d be quite so enamored with this area if I had to slide my way down the steep embankment.
Once you reach the bottom of the hill it’s back through the predator proof gate (once again AFTER cleaning your footwear). Thankfully from here it’s a flat journey back to your starting point. A short way up the gravel driveway you can elect to return via a beach or if you are mountain biking and managed not to kill yourself getting down the aforementioned hill, you can continue straight ahead along the gravel driveway. I choose to return via the beach because even I would be hard pressed to get lost and the best part of finishing that way?
Kicking off your shoes and hydration pack and running into the ocean to cool off!
For more information, please visit the Auckland Regional Council.
For a trail map, please download the Tawaranui Regional Park Map
Till next time