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The Kitekite Falls Walk – Swim at the top of one of Auckland’s best waterfalls

Tucked away on the wild and rugged west coast of Auckland, you’ll find the Kitekite Falls Track.  Not only does this track weave its way through a beautiful patch of native bush, but hikers can enjoy a swim, both at the top and the bottom of the cascading waterfall.

This is the side of Auckland that all too often goes unnoticed by visitors.  It shouldn’t though; the Kitekite Falls Track is absolute magic!

It also happens to be one of our favourite Auckland waterfalls.

Whether you’re a local looking to get a dose of fresh air, or a visitor keen to see Auckland’s natural beauty, this is an easy day hike that should be on your to-do list.

Why the Kitekite Falls Track Should be Top of Your Auckland To-Do List

What Makes the Kitekite Falls Track Unique?

Few cities can claim a hike as beautiful and falls as impressive whilst still being so close to the Central Business District.

How fortunate are those of us that live in Auckland?!

From the moment you leave the car park until the time you return (which will take about an hour return), this is a hike that’s out to impress.

Stunning bush, cascading waterfalls, crystal-clear streams, pools to swim in, and eels to feed; the Kitekite Falls Track has it all.

Don’t worry though, we didn’t spot eels anywhere near the swimming pools!

A father and his three kids feeding eels in Auckland.

What Should You Expect From This Auckland Hike?

The Kitekite Falls Track is one of the most incredible walks in Auckland. It is a multi-loop trail that allows for access in a number of directions.  You can choose to undertake the track from either direction and can also opt to walk up to the top of the waterfall (or not) and can take a slight detour in the bush also.

As the hike is so manageable (aside from a relatively small uphill slog, where I stopped to catch my breath a few times), we really do recommend you complete the full walk.  The views from the top are well and truly worth the effort to get there.

The Kitekite Falls Track Route

The Kitekite Falls route map is included below.

Your journey will start from the car park which you will notice is to the west of the track’s start point (marked with the green koru symbol).

Bathrooms are located at the start of the hike (and also slightly to the north) but there are none on the track itself.  It is important that visitors keep to the tracks (to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease), so be sure to use the bathrooms before you begin your walk.

Kitekite falls route map.

The Kitekite Falls Track – The Main Track

The Kitekite Falls Track is actually a combination of three tracks; Byers Track, Knutzen Track and, of course, Kitekite Track.  With the same path in and out, these tracks join together to create a stunning loop that can be walked in either direction.  We opted to complete the track in a clockwise manner but saw plenty of other walkers coming from the opposite direction.

As you walk, you’ll skirt around the Kitekite Stream, slowly moving higher into the valley.  All the way, you’ll enjoy a wide range of beautiful flora; NZ native ferns, beautiful trees (including our native giants, the kauri tree), mosses and bush.  This part of the country really benefits from the west coast’s rain, making it lush and green, and a real treat to walk through.

There are two unformed water crossings on the loop – one on the walk itself and another crossing the bottom of the walls.  On both occasions, you’ll need to hop over rocks to avoid getting wet feet.  Neither will be particularly challenging for most people, but some may need assistance.

Remember, if you are visiting after heavy rain, it is important that you don’t cross the track at the bottom of the waterfall.  If this is the case, we suggest approaching the track in a clockwise manner to visit the top of the falls, before doubling back again.

At the bottom of the waterfall, you’ll find a beautiful, big swimming hole.  It’s safe to jump in the water here and, though the water is chilly, it’s the perfect way to cool off on a warm day.  Should you wish, you can even swim right up to and behind the waterfall itself!

The Connect Track – To the Top of the Falls

If you approach the hike in the same way we did, you’ll turn left at the loop (in a clockwise direction).  This will connect you up with the track to the top of the waterfall before too long; this is the Connect Track.

The walk to the top is one of the only steep tracks on this walk.  The steps are well-formed for the most part and there are a few opportunities to stop as you walk up – perfect for a little breather, should you need it.

Once you’re at the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views back over the valley and a number of swimming holes.

The first swimming hole is fairly deep and large and is set well back from the edge of the cliff.  It’s perfect for families and those looking to cool off without taking any risks.

The other swimming hole is more exciting and is actually tucked over the cliff.  It’s much smaller and really only suitable for a relaxing dip, but its views are second-to-none.

Tourists swimming on a waterfall swimming hole at the top of Kitekite Falls.

When you’ve had your fill of stunning views and swimming, you’ll continue back down on the track that you just climbed.

If you decided to walk in the other direction around the loop (from the right-hand side), you are also able to get to the Connect Track. Remember though, if there has been a lot of rain recently, you’re not encouraged to cross this way.

Byers Walk – A Beautiful Detour

Referring back to the hiking map, you’ll notice a secondary piece of track sitting slightly to the east of the track in and out.  This is Byers Walk.

This lovely little bit of track makes the walk back more interesting.  It features a beautiful old rata tree towards and end (which is similar to a pōhutukawa; New Zealand’s Christmas tree) and a forest of nikau palms.

At the end of Byers Walk, you’ll find yourself back on the main track and almost finished with your circuit.

How to Get to the Kitekite Falls Track

If you’re feeling inspired to get out into the great outdoors, you’ll need your own transport to get to Piha.  Located on the outskirts of West Auckland, the area is fairly remote; that’s half its beauty.

You will find the Kitekite Falls Track car park at the end of Glenesk Road, Piha 0772.

Regardless of where you come from, you will come along Scenic Drive, West Coast Road or Forest Hill Road, before connecting up with Piha Road.  Piha Road weaves its way through the bush, around the clifftops and then down into Piha, before changing into Seaview Road.  After a brief drive, you’ll turn right onto Glenesk Road and follow it until the end.

There, you will cross a little bridge and find yourself in a fairly large field; this is the parking area for the Kitekite Falls Track.

Though the area is safe, it’s always a good precaution to tuck any valuables out of sight.  Or better still, take them with you in your day bag.

With your bag packed and your car secure, you’re now ready to begin your hike!

A man leaning over the fence of a fence near the sign, "Please Don't Harm the Eels."

What to Take on Your Kitekite Hike

As there are no shops near the Kitekite Falls Track, you’ll want to come prepared with anything you might need.  There as limited supplies available in Piha but as it’s such a small community, you should expect to pay a little more.

Instead, we recommend you prepare yourself for the hike before leaving home. You’ll want to take the following:

  • Plenty of water to last the hike.
  • Snacks to keep your energy jump. It’s a fairly easy walk but you can never be over-prepared when it comes to food and drink.
  • Sunscreen.  The sun in New Zealand doesn’t play around!
  • A hat.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Bug spray.  There weren’t too many sandflies there, but as you’ll be around water, it’s a good idea to take precautions if you’re prone to be bitten.
  • Luncheon meat.  Stay with me, as I know that seems like a strange addition to this list!  As you cross the bridge into the car park field, you’ll spot a group of friendly eels.  They love tucking into luncheon meat (ham/fresh meat also does the trick) and will happily eat from your hands – just mind your fingers.
  • Finally, be sure to take your togs (swimming costume), both to swim in the Kitekite Falls but also to pay Piha Beach a visit.  It’s one of the most iconic and stunning beaches in all of Auckland (and you’ll literally be down the road from it).  If you visit the Kitekite Falls Track and don’t at least checkout Piha, you’ll be doing yourself a real disservice.
Young tourists swimming on the swimming hole at the top of Kitekite Falls.

Kauri Dieback Disease; What Is It and What Do I Need to Know?

Kauri dieback is quietly attacking and killing some of New Zealand’s most treasured trees.  This disease is spread without any obvious signs and at this stage, there is no cure for it.

Caused by microscopic organisms that like in the soil, the best way to prevent this devastating disease is to prevent the spread of infected soil.

For this reason, you’ll notice there is a cleaning station set up at the start/end of the hike.

It is incredibly important that you follow the instructions here and correctly disinfect your shoes.  Likewise, ensure you stay on the marked paths throughout your hike.

Whether it’s the Kitekite Falls Track or any of the other fantastic hikes in Auckland, if you see stations or signs promoting you to prevent kauri dieback, it’s important that you follow the instructions given.

Working together, we can all minimise the spread of this disease, keeping our giant kauri trees healthy for future generations.

Kauri dieback cleaning station.

Though hiking is unlikely to be the first activity that springs to mind when people think about Auckland, there are many walks in and around the region that are worth checking out.

The Kitekite Falls Hike is one of them!

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