If you imagine 'picturesque West Auckland' you're probably immediately thinking of black sand, and a line-up of stunning beaches including Piha, Bethells Beach, Huia, Karekare, because it really is an embarrassment of natural riches. Add to that the eateries and activities that enhance our enjoyment of those places, like the simple perfection of a post-surf beer, and you may think you have West Auckland covered. But the charm of the west is wide-ranging, and you don't need to go miles from the CBD to feel it.
Kids' birthday party venues are also in abundant supply in West Auckland, you can utilise top-notch playgrounds like Tui Glen, Royal Reserve and Olympic Park to have a free-range party, West Wave Pool is a great option, or the amazing Whoa! Studios, or Kiwi Valley Farm, which I think us adults enjoyed as much as the kids. Paradice Ice Skating rink in Avondale is a hit all through the year, and Extreme Edge rock climbing in Glen Eden.
From film and television studios to performance spaces and galleries, arts and culture thrive out west. You see it at Hoani Waititi Marae, which hosts one of the best Waitangi Day celebrations in the country, right through to the many art centres and galleries. There's Te Pou Theatre in New Lynn, Lopdell House, Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, McCahon House Museum and the Corban Estate Art Centre which all give vivid life to creativity.
If you're a keen walker, you may have to make a long list of good trails in the west and work your way through them, but if you're keen on waterfalls (and who isn't) the Kitekite Falls, Fairy Falls and Mokoroa Falls are big hits, with Karekare Falls an excellent family-friendly option.
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If upping your steps at the mall is more your style, schedule a stop at the NorthWest shopping centre. Every time I go there, I drive in and start to wonder if I've taken a portal to a much bigger and well-designed city somewhere overseas. That's the benefit
of the planning that went into the complex, because the parking is good, there's spacious layout of shops and an array of nice restaurants.
Go out to the famous west beaches for sure, but be sure to enjoy the goodness on the way too.