We started 2010 with a visit to Hunua Falls, a pleasant 30m waterfall located in the Hunua Ranges Regional Park, Auckland’s largest forested landscape, about an hour’s drive to the southeast of the city. There were lots of people around, enjoying picnics in the sunshine, on this Public Holiday. The park has the largest tract of indigenous forest on the mainland in the Auckland region and contains an almost intact succession from coastal to submontane vegetation. The Hunua ecological district contains 20% of all NZ’s indigenous species including over half of the ferns and fern allies.

We wandered around some of the tracks and viewed the Falls from different angles and distances, including the point where the water falls into the pool below.

From there we drove a few kilometres north to the attractive village of Clevedon with a view to visiting some wineries that we had read about, but unfortunately as it was a Public Holiday they were all closed! Oh dear!

Instead we continued our drive towards the scenic coast, calling first at Duder regional park, located on the pohutukawa-fringed Whakakaiwhara Peninsula, which juts out into the Tamaki Strait. Duder Regional Park is a 148-hectare coastal farm park. Here you can enjoy some of the region’s most spectacular 360-degree views.  Its landscape, including rolling pasture, high coastal ridges a remote headland, adds to the feeling of isolation and tranquillity, almost as if you were on your own Gulf island. The peaceful setting provides for a number of recreation opportunities including walking, picnicking, horse riding, mountain biking, orienteering, fishing, exploring the rocky shore and swimming at high tide.

Later we continued along the impressive Pacific Coastal Highway in the general direction of Maraetai, a beautiful seaside area fringed with Pohutukawa trees which was absolutely packed with Aucklanders enjoying the sunshine. We ended the day at the tiny village of Whitford, which is situated at the head of a sea inlet, where we found a delightful café to enjoy hot chocolate and coffee on the lawn by the edge of the creek surrounded by a dozen sleepy ducks.