The Best Family-Friendly Walks in Northern Auckland – sure to be a hit with the kids!

Auckland has a number of fantastic family-friendly bush walks and nature trails. To find the very best, you’ll need the knowledge of a local. We’ve invited Sian, a North Shore resident to share her favourite walking tracks in the area.

We are so fortunate to live in Auckland; a city that even amongst its mad rush, stillness can be found.

With green spaces everywhere – in the form of parks, playgrounds and reserves, we’re spoilt for choice in regards to family fun in the region.

The following are family favourites, but they’re really suited to everyone looking to get out and enjoy our incredible city.

The Best Family-Friendly Walking Tracks on north of Auckland

Sanders Reserve – Paremoremo, Albany – 25 Minutes North of Auckland City

This gem of a spot is hidden away down a quiet dead-end road. At Sanders Reserve you’ll find the Lucas Creek Estuary lapping at its shores and over 22kms of biking and walking paths. There you’ll enjoy lush bush and rolling meadows and, best of all, it’s only a pebble’s skip from the city centre. 

It provides a fenced off-leash dog park and horse riding tracks as well as walks to Library Point tidal beach.

Sanders Reserve caters for all ages with extensive mountain biking tracks and vistas across to Herald Island, Greenhithe, Hobsonville and the Sky Tower. 

Kids will enjoy spotting hidden creatures inside the magical Faraway Tree sculpture. There is also a fantastic playground with the best views in town to keep the kids entertained!

We recommend grabbing a coffee or a takeaway treat on the way at Constantinople Turkish Café, ready to enjoy the views once you arrive at your destination.

Enjoy seeking out somewhere new to explore in this huge park!

Bring a picnic, bring a kite or bring a bike, you won’t be able to do it all in one day, so mark it on the map and make sure you come back.

Hobsonville Point – Hobsonville – 25 Minutes Northwest of Auckland City

Hobsonville Point is a historic RNZAF area that has been redeveloped into a community and also a plethora of walking and biking tracks.  It is a far cry from the almost deserted base overrun by rabbits 10 years ago!

The modern development has kept the history of the area intact. There you will find original architecture on display, in the form of restored homes and buildings (such as the Sunderland Lounge and Fabric Cafe).

Start your adventure from their outdoor theatre, known as the Rifle Range (kids; try to spot the Fairy Tree Grotto!) and head via bush tracks to the old wharf.

This takes you past the fabulous Harrier Point Park which is dwarfed by a 10-metre high Pied Shag slide (which is currently closed), as well as a flying fox! The kids will love spending time at this unique playground.

Just across the road is the large old boat ramp at the wharf; this is where the RNZAF seaplanes would chug up into the giant hanger. Things are different now though. These days, the hanger holds offices and restaurants – perfect for a drink or bite to eat. There’s even a fun indoor play area to keep the kids busy!

Or you might like to start with a coffee at Catalina Café. Why not let the kids explore the (fantastic) Hobsonville Point Playground whilst you finish off your caffeine-hit? Then stroll along the boardwalks of the Hobsonville Point Coastal walkway, ending at Fabric Cafe next to the ferry terminal.

Alternatively, swing by the Catalina Water Play Park; it’s the perfect way for little ones to cool down on a warm day!

There are many ways to get to the wonderful markets, cafes, restaurants on offer at the wharf and ferry terminal, it’s just up to you how you choose to get there.

Pro Tip: You can also catch the ferry from the city to Hobsonville for a fun transport option. Doing so will start your adventure off on a relaxed note (and entertain the kids).

Devonport to Takapuna (with a Doughnut Stop in between) – 10 Minutes North of Auckland City

The Devonport to Takapuna walk is a firm favourite on Auckland’s North Shore. This suburban walk is incredibly varied and enjoyable for the whole family.

We suggest you start at Takapuna Beach Café (for your coffee hit). From there, enjoy watching the hive of water activities at Takapuna beach, whilst exfoliating your neglected feet in the sand.

If the tide is low you can continue around the rocks to St Leonards Beach (it is a nudist beach – you’ve been warned), and up the stairs to St Leonards Road.  Alternatively, walk up Clifton Road where you’ll see countless huge cliffside homes gracing the street. 

Once you hit Lake Road, head in the direction of Eversleigh Road, past the houses from Season 2 of The Block NZ.

A must once on Eversleigh is to stop at Little & Friday, a gem of a cafe, for coffee and their drool-worthy food – their jam and cream doughnuts are a real fave! 

From there, weave your way to Northboro Reserve (which is set in the shape of a giant boat). Then hit the waterside track which takes you to Bayswater Bridge for some fish-spotting in the mangroves – complete with the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge as your backdrop.

You really can’t ask for a better suburban walk that gets the heart rate up, and appeals to all ages!

The best part about this walk is you can start and finish at any point. However, if you decide to head all the way to Devonport, you might like to ride your bike instead as it is quite a hike! 

Mahurangi West Regional Park – 40 Minutes North of Auckland City 

These Mahurangi West Regional Park walks are filled with bird song, sheep-dodging and the most stunning views around! With three different options to choose from it caters to all age levels and abilities.

You can walk to your own private beaches at Te Muri Beach or Sullivans and Mita Bays or take in the spectacular cliff-top views across to Mahurangi East, Lagoon Bay and Saddle Island.

You’ll walk through paddocks speckled with friendly sheep that come so close you can smell the lanolin. Enjoy listening to the ubiquitous tuis and kererus, perched in the huge puriri trees throughout this well-established beautiful regional park

We suggest you take a bucket and spade and turn the kids into ‘mini marine biologists’, peeking into rock pools hunting for treasures from the deep!

There, the beaches froth with marine and birdlife. Take a minute… stay still… and look for the dotterels that skitter-scatter along the beach.

Or if you’d prefer, why not launch your Stand Up Paddleboard or kayak in the calm waters of Sullivans Bay and thread your way through the moored yachts. Work your way around to Opahi Bay, gliding over stingrays basking in the sun. 


Pro Tip: On the way up, do not forget to stop in at Puhoi to get coffees. You’ll also want to pick up some of their famous cheese (at the Puhoi Cheese Cafe), and enjoy a Puhoi pub visit – perfect for a cool drink and fish and chips.

Wenderholm Regional Park – 30 Minutes North of Auckland City

The Wenderholm Regional Park offers estuary, bush and beach walks.

These trails are found in and around the grounds of the picturesque historic Victorian-Edwardian Couldrey House.   Make sure you take the time to read the information boards – you’ll learn lots about the fascinating history of this beautiful building.

Fun fact: One of the original owners was Robert Graham. In the mid-1800’s, he founded Waiwera Hot Springs

If you visit when the house is open, you can have a look inside – you’ll just need a few coins to enter. If you’re a history buff, there is also lots of information about the area when local iwi (Māori tribes) lived on the land.

Whilst visiting Wenderholm, you’ll want to hike up the hill. The walk takes visitors through stunning native bush, filled with bird song, to the lookouts that boast views of the beach and back towards the city. We suggest you get the kids to hunt for native bird feathers on the way.

Eagle-eyed hikers will also get to see how they used to get water to Couldrey House (before modern plumbing)!

One of the possible walks in Wenderholm pops out in the grounds of Couldrey House; this is a tranquil place for a picnic in its quaint cottage gardens, with curious fantails flitting around.

If you feel like a beach walk, just stroll across the grassed area dotted with pohutukawas and you will find yourself on the calm shores of Wenderholm Beach.

Next to the beach, you’ll find an estuary. When the tide is high it is the perfect spot to throw in a line, paddle the kayak/SUP or set a net.   

Pro tip: Make sure you swing by Orewa en route to fill up your picnic basket from one of the yummy eateries. On the way home, you can also stop for an ice cream.

There are many fantastic family-friendly walks on Auckland’s North Shore. From stunning beaches to native bush, playgrounds to cafes; each of our favourite spots will soon become favourites for your family too!

Guest post: Sian Williams. Photo credit: Fraser Clements

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