The Hillary Trail is a self-guided four day tramp through 77km of native forest and along the wild coast of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. It connects various park tracks and basic backcountry campgrounds. The trail captures Sir Edmund Hillary's sense of adventure and introduces you to the joys of overnight camping.
You do not need to book to do the trail but you will need to book to use the Auckland Council campgrounds. To make a booking contact us.
You need a high level of fitness and some tramping experience. It can be challenging because of the hilly terrain, variety of track standards and sections of exposed coastline.
This description is based on completing the trail in four days and three nights, staying at Auckland Council campgrounds. However there are many ways to complete the trail, from running it in a day, extending the time taken to complete it and staying in local lodges and B&B’s, or even breaking it down into sections to be completed as day walks. Please see staff at the Arataki Visitor Centre for advice on tailoring the trail to suit you.
There are no tour operators servicing the trail, so you have to arrange your own food, equipment and transport.
Along the way there are a variety of accommodation options, including a number of basic council campgrounds.
The tramp is best suited to the warmer months.
If you're not fit now, build up to it by firstly doing short walks or tramps, possibly including some overnight stays.
It starts at the Arataki Visitor Centre, near Titirangi and ends at Muriwai - or at Swanson where you could catch the Western line train back to Auckland CBD.
Safety is your responsibility. Give a responsible friend details of your trip and tell them when you finish.
Mobile coverage is limited.
West Coast beaches have dangerous currents.
Please check in at the Arataki Visitor Centre before setting out to get the latest weather and track information.
Check out the Map of the Hillary Trail (PDF 571KB)
To pick up a comprehensive Hillary Trail brochure please visit the Arataki Visitor Centre.
The trail starts at the Arataki Visitor Centre on Scenic Drive. If you are catching public transport to Titirangi, you can walk 6.6km from there to Arataki via Exhibition Drive and the Beveridge Tracks. From Arataki the trail descends into the Nihotupu Valley and onwards to Huia. The first night is spent at the Karamatura campground.
12.5km, 4-5 hours from the Arataki Visitor Centre
19.1km, 5.5-6.5 hours from Titirangi
Starts with a steep climb out of the Karamatura Valley, a subsequent descent down to the Manukau Heads and along the spectacular Omanawanui Track. Once at Whatipu, the trail heads north above the Whatipu Scientific Reserve to the night's campground in the remote Pararaha Valley.
The third day begins with a walk out into the Whatipu Scientific Reserve and along Whatipu Beach to Karekare. The trail then ascends above Mercer Bay and via a short road section before it drops into the Piha Valley passing Kitetkite Falls. It then goes through the Piha township and along Piha Beach. Another climb up to Anawhata Road and onto the night's stay at the Craw campground.
The fourth day has two options:
Travel further north through Bethells and onto Muriwai by traversing the Anawhata Valley, passing Lake Wainamu and following the Waiti Stream to the Te Henga Walkway. The trail finishes with a longer stretch of road walking before descending into Muriwai via the gannet colony at Otakamiro Point and finishes at Motutara Road.
Traverse the Anawhata Valley onto a ridge top walk to the Cascade Kauri area and Falls Road exit point. A short climb from there and then a quick descent leads to the rural Tram Valley and Swanson Roads and on to the trail's end at Swanson Railway Station.
27km, 11-12 hours to Muriwai
20km, 7.5-8.5 hours to Swanson
NOTE: If you are planning to include the Te Henga Walkway, please check www.doc.govt.nz for an up to date information on the status of the walkway.
Places to stay
Using the campgrounds means you will need to take a pack with your tent, bedding, spare clothing, and four days worth of food and cooking items. The campgrounds are the Kararamatura Valley campground and the Craw campground.
You may choose to adjust or extend your tramp to stay at one of the following campgrounds or baches:
These campgrounds and baches can be booked by contacting Auckland Council Parks on 09 301 0101.
There are also many privately owned campgrounds, lodges and B&Bs in the Waitakere Ranges area. You would need to book directly. These include, but are not limited to:
Whatipu Lodge and Campground
Tel: 09 811 8860
Piha Domain Camp
Phone 09 812 8815
Muriwai Beach Motor Camp
Phone 09 411 9262
Mobile 021 753 370
Nearest food supplies
Huia Beach Store and Café (note this is 800m from the trail)
1194 Huia Road, Huia
Phone 09 811 8809
26 Seaview Road, Piha
Phone 09 812 8844
The Piha Café
20 Seaview Road, Piha
How to get there
Visit the Maxx website or phone 09 366 6400.
Public transport to the start
Bus to Titirangi and walk along Scenic Drive to Exhibition Drive (a walking track starting at the intersection with Woodlands Park Road), then turn right onto the Beveridge Track that leads up to the Arataki Visitor Centre.
Public transport at the end
There is a bus or train service at Swanson. This service is fairly regular during the week, but limited during the weekends and trains may not run some weekends or public holidays while maintenance work is being done for Auckland’s forthcoming electric trains. There is no public transport at Muriwai.
The Arataki Visitor Centre is on Scenic Drive, 6km from Titirangi. From Downtown Auckland, take State Highway 16. Take exit 8 for Great North Road; keep left at the fork and follow signs for Avondale/New Lynn/Great North Road/National Route 11. Merge onto Great North Road; continue onto Ash Street and then Rata Street. Continue onto Titirangi Road. At the roundabout, take the second exit onto Scenic Drive. The centre is 6km from Titirangi Village and located on the left side. An alternative access route from the north is to follow Swanson Road onto Scenic Drive past the Swanson Township. The centre is on the right side about 5km past the Piha Road turn off.
From Downtown Auckland, take State Highway 16. Take the Lincoln Road turnoff and turn right onto Universal Drive, then follow Swanson Road which merges into Scenic Drive North. Take Te Henga Road on the right then Falls Road 1.5km down on the left. The Cascade Kauri carpark and trail head are at the end of Falls Road. To get to Lake Wainamu, stay on Te Henga Road which merges with Bethells Road; a carpark servicing Lake Wainamu is approximately 6.4km down Bethhells Road.
From Downtown Auckland, take the north-western motorway and take the Lincoln Road turnoff. Travel on Lincoln Road to Universal Drive, then at the roundabout take the second exit to Swanson Road. The train station is 3.4km along Swanson Road. If you are arranging pick up from the end of the Swanson Pipeline Track on Tram Valley Road, travel 300m past the station, turn left onto Christian Road and directly right onto Tram Valley Road. The track entrance and exit is about 1.8km down the road.
From Downtown Auckland, take State Highway 16 to Waimauku. Turn left into Muriwai Road and travel for approximately 8km before turning right in Motutara Road and continue on to the park. If you are arranging to be picked up from the end of the Te Henga Walkway, instead of turning into Motutara Road continue going straight into Oaia Road for 3.4km and turn right into Constable Road. Travel approximately 1km to a small parking area at the track entrance and exit.
Drop off and pick up locations
It is ideal to be dropped off at the Arataki Visitor Centre. You may choose to arrange you own pick ups at various places along the trail, including Huia, Whatipu, Karekare, Piha, Lake Wainamu, the end of the Te Henga Walkway on Constable Road, the Cascade Kauri Park at the end of Falls Road, or where the Swanson Pipeline Track meets Tram Valley Road.
There is limited parking available at the Arataki Visitor Centre.