In honour of the 2008 passing of New Zealand’s mountaineering hero, Sir Edmund Hillary, Auckland has linked a series of existing walking tracks through the Waitakere Ranges into the Hillary Trail (70km; 3–4 days; w arc.govt.nz). Running from the Arataki Visitor Centre via Whatipu, Karekare, Piha and Te Henga to Muriwai, it gives a great sense of the region – regenerating rainforest, stands of kauri, rocky shores, black-sand beaches and historic remains. The highest point is only 390m but it is an undulating track and moderate to good fitness is required. Occasionally slippery, steep paths and unbridged streams can make it a good deal harder in winter, and in any season the last 27km day takes most people at least 10hr.
Nights are generally spent in primitive campsites ($5; book on t 09 366 2000), though you can stay under a roof in Whatipu, Piha and Te Henga. The best source of on-the-ground information is the Arataki Visitor Centre.