Amazing off-road running so close to Auckland. Variety of terrain, kauri dams, swimming through rock pools. climbing waterfalls and boulder running.
From Titirangi follow the signs to Huia. Drive straight through Huia towards Whatipu. Follow the gravel road and you will come to the Whatipu public carpark.

 

I reckon this run is one of the best training runs you can do in Auckland, just 50 minutes from the city centre on the west coast is Whatipu - the start point for the training run.  Just follow Huia Road from Titirangi - right at the end of the road is Whatipu.  A truly rugged west coast beach.  At the end of the road there is a big car park and a lodge/campground.  The lodge has a small shop which is ideal for that after run pig out.

From the car park head out towards the beach, this is where we start into the run, nice and easy.  Just follow the coast north from Whatipu, sticking pretty close to the sea where the sand is harder - the soft sand is quite sapping and there’s a long way to go. 

It’s about 30-40 minutes of this easy running up the beach to the start of the Pararaha track.  The track doesn’t come all the way out to the beach but you head inland towards the Pararaha valley when you hit a stream.  Just follow the stream inland. 

After a couple of minutes you’ll hit the start of the track and the first 5 minutes is through swamp, going along a usually very wet track with the odd piece of boardwalk.  You’ll then climb slightly and come to shelter and a junction of tracks.  To the left and up the hill is Muir track.  This is the one you tell grandma to take - it climbs steeply up the hill and then back down to the car in Whatipu - bye bye grandma (slow coach!). 

We head down towards the sound of the stream and head upstream.  The next 30-40 minutes is following the stream up the valley.

Now, tactics differ here depending on the weather.  If it’s cold and you’re a softy then you try to stay on the track.  It kind of weaves from one side of the stream to the other and if you come to an obstacle like a waterfall, a water pool or large boulders, then the track will generally go up one side or the other and avoid any shenanigans in the water or on rocks.

If it’s a nice hot sunny day  - then tough it out.  Just go up the guts of the valley staying in the stream the whole way.  There are some great water holes you’ll have to swim through, some boulders and small waterfalls to climb up and the odd Kauri dam ruins to go through.  This section up the stream is one of the highlights of the run  - boulder hopping like a coast to coaster, or sliding down into the water holes that make you go ohhhh when they reach that special height of your legs (for the guys anyway - it’s bloom’in cold).

Basically you follow this stream until you hit a track called Odlin Timber Track.  There is a stream junction just before the track.  Go straight and you hit the track and take a right - start the quite steep uphill.  Follow the Oldin timber up and you come to Orange Peel Corner.  Not sure what the story is with the name but so many times I run through here and there are some orange peels next to the track signs…no shit!

Take the track to the Karamatua forks.  When you get to the Karamatua forks go right, along Donald Mclean Track and follow this to its end.  If you’re still feeling fresh I recommend taking a slight detour and doing the Bob Gordon Track.  It starts just after the forks junction and loops back onto Donald McLean Track.  It’s quite a grunter but really nice….if you’re into that sort of thing.  At the end of Donald Mclean - take a couple of minutes jog up to the trig.  Amazing view of the Waitakere ranges and the Manukau harbour.  Its magical on a fine day!

Mostly downhill from here - just back track a bit (couple of minutes) along Donald McLean and head down the Puriri Track.  This has a junction about 10-15 minutes down which comes out onto Huia Road - cross straight across and you start the decent along Omanawanui Track.  This is an amazing track - mostly downhill but with some steep little ups and on the left as you head down to Whatipu are some wicked views of the Manukau harbour.  You kind of run down a steep spur with the drop off on the left straight into the water.  There’s definitely some nice spots to stop for a breather.  At the end of the spur you drop off to the right down to the car park which you can see from the top.

Event: The Wild Turkey Off-Road Half Marathon and 16km. Check out www.lacticturkey.co.nz for details of that race held in January. Classed as Auckland'd premier off-road run.  Due to the popularity of this event and the fact that some of the area the event goes through is a scientific ecological reserve, there is a limit of 300 competitors.  This limit was filled easily by race day so enter early.

On the Lactic Turkey website there is a download called RaceReviewer that lets you see the course in 3D photo or map format. You can follow the competitors as they go around the course....[here]

 

To just get only the best section (the Pararaha), you can start at the Lone Kauri Road carpark and go down Buck Taylor Track which takes you to the start of the Pararaha. Then you go up the stream and when you hit Odlin Timber Track turn left and it takes you back up to the carpark.