This underappreciated gem traverses through native bush, along beaches, up and down some serious stairs with serious views and also winds its way through some quiet neighbourhoods.
Weirdly, it never makes it to any of the ‘best walks in Auckland’ lists that invariably get put out at this time of the year. So, I thought I would put together a guide – as it does take a little bit of forethought.
— Warning – the track is officially closed by Wattle Bay for track works—
You’ll need to bring a water bottle, although there are taps at Lynfield Cove and Waikōwhai Park, a charged cellphone and ideally have a copy of the map saved to your phone, or printed out, as there are some ‘tricky’ parts where you are on the road.
Full map available at https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/parks-recreation/get-outdoors/find-a-walk/Documents/wattle-bay-loop-map.pdf
You can also pick up a great brochure from the Puketāpapa local board office.
There are a number of options of where to start. You can start from Lynfield Cove (Off Giletta Road) and go up the hill, but there isn’t much to see and it adds a lot of admin if you are catching a bus or going by bike.
I like to start from the end of Strathnaver Crescent and head down the track, following it till it comes out onto Fairsea Pl. Turn left up Himalaya Cres. then right down Halsey Drive. Head along till you come to Manukau Domain, head across the grass to the Opened Stone Sculpture and down the track at the end of the reserve.
Manukau Domain is also another good place to start. There is parking, the bus stop is right there, and you avoid 10 minutes or so of road walking. This goes through some nice bush (with some great stair action.)
You then come out onto Syvlania Crescent. You need to turn left and walk up the road a little bit, the track down to Wattle Bay is on your right.
This track heads downhill, there is a turnoff which you need to go right at, then you come out at Wattle Bay. You can enjoy a rest here before following the path through the Raupō wetland. This path winds along the foreshore and it is well worth taking a diversion down to the ‘small beach’ which is very picturesque.
You then head up a steep path towards Cape Horn Road. There is a ‘lookout’ track which is worth the trip – although there is a stand of pine trees that blocks the view out to the Manukau Heads.
You then continue heading uphill to Cape Horn Road, where you turn right and run down the road 500 metres till the walkway down to Waikowhai Bay. Check out the view from up here.
Enjoy the track down towards Waikōwhai Park, where you can explore a number of different trails and beaches. There is also a playground (due to be updated in late 2021) and a barbeque.
Head down the track past the playground which goes into some excellent native bush. You will see kereru, tui, piwakawaka and many other birds around here.
Take the track that heads to Wesley Bay, an undulating track with occasional great views and forest. Wesley Bay is a great place for a swim, or you can continue on and around the headland (at low tide) to the path running parallel to Aldersgate Road.
At the end of this path you can try to walk around the headland to Taylor’s Bay, or head up and follow the road and various other trails to get there too, including going through Hillsborough Cemetery which has great views, history, and bush paths.
Public Transport: The 25L runs from the City Centre all the way to Lynfield. You can get off at Manukau Domain if you want to skip some of the ‘road’ section, or you can get off at 37 Halsey Drive, just before Strathnaver Crescent.
When finished, you can walk up from a walkway on Aldersgate Rd to a bus stop for the 27H which goes via Newmarket.
Driving: If you have two cars, park one on Aldersgate Rd beside the exit to the park, then drive to Strathnaver Crescent and park there. If you only have one car, you would need to catch two buses – park up at Aldersgate, walk up the walkway to Hillsborough Rd, catch the 27H to Dominion Rd extension and transfer to the 26L, getting off at Strathnaver again.
Alternatively, you could just park at one end and do a ‘return’ journey.
Check the tides before you go. If you head off from the Strathnaver end, make sure you get to the end of Wesley Bay an hour before high tide, otherwise you will have to go the long way around via Hillsborough Rd – or scramble over some rocks.