The Hillary trail is one of or maybe the best multi day hike in the north of the country, the trail starts at the Arataki visitor center, the vistor center is located on Scenic Drive 6 km from Titirangi in west Auckland and the trail finishes at Muriwai beach around 80kms in length all together.
The Hillary trail is split into eight sections altogether
Section 1 Arataki visitor center to Karamatura valley
Section one is the toughest section as most of the walk is through native bush, in the summer the track is dry but in the winter it can be tough going, section one would take you around five hours of solid walking and is around 10kms in length
Section 2 Karamatura valley to Whatapu Beach
Section two is one of the most scenic sections there is still alot of steep trails here but the views across the Manukau harbour are stunning, you will decend down to little Huia at the mouth of the Manukau harbour then head back up hill and another decent down onto Whatipu this section is around five hours walk and around the same length as section one, you can do section one and section two in one day and book a cabin at the Whatipu lodge or camp in a tent if you bring one yourself.
Section 3/4 Whatipu Beach to Piha Beach
Section three and four can be walked in one day as well these two sections are our favorites, Whatapu Beach to KareKare Beach is easy as most of the walking is on sand and level, the whatipu section takes you along the wetland behind the beach, then at KareKare beach you head up into the cliff tops on your way to Piha, around half way along this section is a look out that over hangs a dramatic cliff you are looking straight down into the west coast water below and a stunning view of the Manukau Harbour entrance, you then head inland and around the back of Piha and down onto Piha beach this is a full day of walking around 10 to 12 hours from Whatipu to Piha.
Section 5 Piha Beach to Anawhata Farm
Section five takes you along Piha beach then re enters the native bush you now leave the west coast behind and head inland to Anawhata farm this part of the trail is only aound 5 kms long however you are climbing all the way to the end this section will take around 2 hrs of walking.
Section 6 Anawhata to Bethells Beach
Section six Anawhata to Bethells Beach you start decending down to Lake Wainamu and the trail is mostly along a stream bed and sand based so the walk is easy, there are some fantastic sand dunes here, you could easily do section six and seven in one day
Section 7 Bethells Beach to Muriwai Beach
Section seven is an easy walk you can go two ways here the first is to follow the track over the hills behind Bethells or a better alternative is to walk along the beach and around the corner to Oneils beach and on Oneils you will came to a cave in a rock you cannot miss it as this is the only rock on the beach, here you can head up a track and rejoin the hillary trail at the top, the rest of this section is along the high cliff tops to Muriwai township and the end of the Hillary trail.
Section 8 Alternative finish from Bethells to Swanson Road
Section eight is an alternative finish to the Hillary trail, while we have not walked this section we can tell you this alternative route is longer than section seven at around 20 kms and 9 hrs walk this alternative finish takes you back through native bush down through the Waitakere ranges across Scenic Drive and down to swanson road and the train station.