With the Waitakere Ranges off-limits to hikers following a rāhui that was placed over the West Auckland scenic bush, tourists and Aucklanders are looking for alternative walking tracks to enjoy over the coming months.
Auckland Council has voted to close the Waitakere Ranges and parts of the Hunua Ranges to the public to help stop the threat of Kauri dieback disease.
The council has unanimously opted to shut off forests in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park by May 1, 2018.
Luckily for those desperate for trail time, the city offers decent alternatives to the stunning Waitakeres, meaning those track closures, more than potentially saving kauri trees, are also opportunities to get out there and explore new trails.
1. Shakespear Regional Park
Instead of heading west, head north to the stunning Shakespear Regional Park, right at the tip of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
According to the Auckland Council, this is "New Zealand's most visited and accessible open sanctuary integrating conservation, recreation and farming".
Shakespear has a good network of trails and boasts stunning views of the harbour. It includes walking and mountain biking trails that suit all levels and abilities.
2. Okura Bush Walk
Still north of the Harbour Bridge, the Okura Bush Walk is a well-known Auckland trail with a bit of everything.
It is a three-hour return walk so ideal for a half-day trip.
You will walk through a kauri forest, so it is vital to use the foot wash stations available to stop the spread of kauri dieback disease, winding down to the Okura River estuary, past the marine reserve and the historic Dacre Cottage, to end in Stillwater.
3. Riverhead Forest
If you're keen to stay out west, swap the bush for the forest and head to Riverhead. You can stick to the forest roads and just enjoy the silence between the tall pines or venture deeper through the trees and find the trails the locals know all about. Whatever the level of adventure you're looking for, the forest always delivers.
4. Hunua Falls
"But what about the pretty waterfalls in the Waitakeres? I wanted to go see those!" I hear you and it sucks but we've got to give our kauri a fighting chance. In the meantime, we suggest a walk to the equally pretty and very accessible Hunua Falls, less than an hour south of the city centre.
The kauri in the Hunua area are healthy but need your cooperation to stay that away so, once again, please remember to clean your boots and respect the closure of some of the tracks, using the detours in place.
5. Waiuku Forest
If beautiful tall pine trees and sand-based trails are your thing, set the GPS towards Waiuku Forest, at the mouth of the Waikato River, just south of Auckland, on the west coast of the Waikato district.
This little known forest is popular with locals for its network of gnarly trails that give anyone a good workout, rewarded with stunning scenery.
If you don't feel like walking or running, go horse trekking and even fishing.
6. Duder Regional Park
Duder's coastal views alone are enough to make it worth the drive (it is nearly an hour from the city centre, past Clevedon).
On the Whakakaiwhara Peninsula, it is a beautiful spot to look at the Hauraki Gulf from.
Predominantly undulating grassland, the trails are not awfully technical and a lot of the park is accessible to mobility-impaired visitors, even when the ground is wet.
There are friendly farm animals hanging around and, if you're feeling adventurous, the mountain biking farm loop is good enough to get the blood pumping.
7. Ambury Regional Park
If you haven't had enough of coastal views on your tour of other regional parks, Ambury has a lot more of those to offer as it sits neatly fronting the Manukau Harbour.
Farm animals wander around and the park is also the home for shorebirds.
Ambury has a 2.5km mountain bike route and a couple of walks, including a farm walk and a foreshore walk. Both are easy and short (1-2km), ideal for families.
8. Tāwharanui Regional Park
Looking north again, the Tāwharanui Regional Park lies just past Matakana, on a remote peninsula facing Kawau Island.
It includes white sand beaches, rolling pastures and a native coastal forest as well as wetlands.
For bird-watching enthusiasts, this is the place to be as many rare native species can be spotted in the area.
During the day, you might be lucky to spot saddleback, North Island robin, bellbird, fantail, pateke and the occasional kaka. Kiwi and morepork like to wander around in the darker hours.
There is also a large network of walking and multi-use tracks, with varied degrees of accessibility.
9. Waharau Regional Park
It's a bit of a drive but, again, not one you're likely to regret. Waharau lies peacefully by the Firth of Thames, on the eastern side of the Hunua Ranges. It includes a variety of scenery, such as forest, farmland and river banks.
The trail network in Waharau includes longer tracks through regenerating forest (including Lower Link Track, Upper Link Track and Waharau Ridge Track). If you fancy a shorter walk, take the Waharau Bush Walk and get out in time for lunch somewhere.
10. Totara Park
Totara Park is not far from downtown Auckland, right near the Manukau CBD and next to the Botanic Gardens (so there's a bonus walking idea in here if you're keen).
The 216ha park includes a network of walking tracks through the large stands of native bush and farmland.
The park also has a range of mountain bike tracks in the northeastern section.