30km or a good half an hour drive westwards from Auckland’s city centre are the Waitakere Ranges. Rich in natural and cultural history, this area is today a Regional Park with more than 16,000 hectares of native rainforest and rugged coastline.
The hills, up to 474 meters high, are covered in dense rainforest with towering hardwood trees like Kauri, Rimu and Kahikatea and a jungle-like undergrowth. With its volcanic rocks and over 2000mm of rainfall each year, the area has a number of beautiful streams with waterfalls cascading through the forest.
We are taking you to stunning locations off the beaten track.
Not only to offer great photography motifs and opportunities but also to experience the heart and soul of the Waitakere Ranges. We have chosen locations that are unique in their ways and that show the best of Auckland’s wild west.
The Tour – Where we take you
This tour is all about enjoying NZ’s pristine environment and capturing its beauty on camera. After hiking through the forest we drive to the beach and stay there until after sunset to allow plenty of time for golden and blue hour photography.
Our tour starts approximately 6 hours before sunset – have a look at our tour dates page for exact start times.
We pick you up in central Auckland.
After leaving the city center, the drive is along Auckland’s most scenic route and we stop at selected lookouts offering views back over Auckland.
The Kauri Forest
At our first destination, we take you for two and a half hours into a Kauri forest. You will see native rainforest and magnificent Kauri trees along the way. We will reach a groove of large Kauri trees, unique to the Auckland area and nothing short of the Kauri forests far north. Walking time is about one hour on well maintained paths, leaving enough time to find motifs and to enjoy this pristine environment.
Kauri forests are evergreen, conifer-broadleaf forests. They only grow in New Zealand’s Northland and on the Coromandel Peninsula. In difference to other New Zealand forests, Kauri forests feature Kauri trees in large numbers and size. Kauris grow up to 30 – 60m high with trunks up to 7m in diameter with straight trunks up to their crown. Besides the magnificent Kauri trees the forest features other conifers like rimu, totara, miro and broadleaf trees like tawa, towai and taraire. Trees are often covered in epiphytes and vines while the ground is covered in native, often endemic, grass and ferns. Of course, our forest walk will take you right into this jungle like forest, including iconic tree ferns.
Our next destination will be a short forest walk to a set of two waterfalls off the beaten track. The area around the falls offers several viewpoints, perfect to find the perfect spot. The 11m high curtain-type fall and its smaller neighbour carry water all year round.
The Beach at Sunset
The final destination takes us to the most diverse part of Auckland’s west coast: Bethells Beach.
We arrive one and a half hour before sunset to find the perfect location for your golden and blue hour shots of black sanded beaches and the rugged coast line of volcanic rock formations.
Bethells Beach and neighbouring O’Neill Bay have been featured in many movies and music videos. The area features a stream, lagoon, dunes, rock outcrops and pools, caves and lush coastal bush. Depending on tides, sunset and weather we will explore the two bays to allow you to photograph a range of different motifs in the light of golden and blue hour.
Depending on weather and tides, we may choose to cross a small, unbridged stream.
We will return to the tour van once the last light has faded and we will take you back to central Auckland. For the trip back to the van we provide a strong headlight for each person.