Veer off the tourist trail to the North Island’s west coast, starting your day trip to the Waitakere Ranges with hotel pickup in Auckland. Passing through the artsy town of Titirangi, enjoy the short drive to this enchanting region, where native rainforest collides with a rugged coastline.
Learn about the wildlife and lush vegetation of the Waitakere Ranges’ subtropical rainforest during a visit to the Arataki Visitor Centre, which boasts sweeping views over Auckland's cityscape all the way to Manukau Harbour.
Then embark on a guided bush walk through a canopy of ubiquitous giant tree ferns and red-flowered pohutukawa trees (aka New Zealand Christmas trees). Learn from your guide’s illuminating commentary how the indigenous Maori used particular plants for medicinal purposes.
A visit to a spectacular waterfall and coastal lookouts for splendid views of the Tasman Sea is also included. The dramatic scenery was featured in 'The Piano,' an Oscar-winning movie by New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion.
Depending on the weather, you’ll stop for a picnic lunch along the way. After lunch, continue your bush walk down to a beach covered in black sand, where you can stroll alongside the pounding surf or even dip your toes in the Tasman Sea if the weather allows.
Rest your feet on the return trip to downtown Auckland, with drop-off at your hotel.