Arataki Visitor Centre – a treat for everyone

I’ve always wanted to live in a tree house. Sadly, I have resigned myself to the fact that this is not likely  but I think I may have found something almost as good.

The Arataki Visitor Centre in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park should be on the itinerary of every visitor and every resident (adult or child) in Auckland.

The building is an unusual shape because it cleverly nestles into its surroundings with decks that curve around existing trees and hang high over the forest as it stretches out like a beautiful carpet. Indside, it’s like a cave with a high curved ceiling and a peek of the city at one end, bush at the other. The displays of animals that live in the Waitakeres (kiwi, weasels, stoats, possums, wetas) and interactive games and puzzles will keep the kids amused while the grownups read stories of the area and pore over maps. This is the place to talk to the knowledgeable staff to find out about the tracks in the park, to pick up a map, or book a campsite or lodge. You can also talk to them about how you too could volunteer to help out in the Park.

There are 250 kms of tracks in the Waitakere Regional Park but if you haven’t got much time, don’t worry. Cross the road via the tunnel which is covered in paintings by local school children and walk the Arataki Nature Trail: 1.6 kms (1 hour 15 mins) of well maintained pathways that will give even the most inexperienced walker a taste of the bush.  Key plants and trees are marked and signs explain the features of the forest, including a glade of mature kauri.

Back at the visitor centre you can plonk yourself down with a cup of coffee in one of the best window seats I’ve ever seen. Surrounded by majestic trees and sweeping views you’ll soon be dreaming of your own tree house. As for me, I think I’ll just move in.

How to get to the Arataki Visitors Centre

The visitor centre is at 300 Scenic Drive, 25 kms from Auckland City centre. Take State Highway 16 (north western motorway) and head west. Take Exit 2 onto Great North Road and follow signs to Titirangi. Drive through Titirangi Village and at the roundabout, take the Scenic Drive exit. Continue for 6km and the visitor centre is on the left. It should take about 30 minutes.

Categories: New Zealand

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