The Puhinui Stream Forest Trail is a tranquil escape from urban Auckland, just 25 minutes from the city and five minutes from central Manukau.
Auckland Botanic Gardens visitor services manager Micheline Newton says the trail has been well used over the last few months, drawing plenty of garden visitors and Totara Park users.
The bridge that connects the gardens with the park has been replaced, improving access to the trail, says Ms Newton.
"As part of Manukau Beautification Trust's 'Eye on Nature' programme, 1500 children will be exploring the forest during next month," she says. A family day is to be held on April 12 which will show how forest can be better cared for.
Linking the native forest walking tracks between the park and the gardens, the trail winds around Puhinui Stream.
There are multiple entry points on to the trail, and you can walk the full length or take a shorter walk. The four-kilometre trail will lead you on a loop of the forest, taking about two hours to walk at a leisurely pace.
Totara Park stretches over 216ha and offers an adventure playground, public swimming pool which is open during summer, many more bushwalks and bridle trails, mountain bike tracks and picnic areas.
The gardens offer 64ha of lush botanic collections, a cafe and plenty of space to relax.
Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times on the forest trail and in the park's main picnic area. Dogs are prohibited from all playgrounds.
Entry to Totara Park is from Wairere Rd, Redoubt Rd and the lookout point off Goodwood Drive or Eugenia Rise.
For the Auckland Botanic Gardens, take the Hill Rd (Manurewa) exit on the Southern Motorway and follow the signs. For more information go to www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz or www.aucklandbotanicgardens.co.nz.