Leading Location for Trail Running: Waiheke Island, Auckland- New Zealand.
Whether it is the quiet solitude and unique fragrance of the native bush or the stunning views from cliff-tops and headlands which appeals, Waiheke Island’s trails offer a diversity and tranquillity rarely found so close to the city.
Waiheke Island, a short ferry ride from Auckland, New Zealand, in the Haruki Gulf, has a reputation as the Kiwi playground of the rich and famous with its boutique hotels, pricey wineries, and colorful arts festivals. Like much of New Zealand, however, this is mixed with stunning vistas and hiking tracks that seem isolated from the rest of the world due to the rugged landscape and thick bush.
The Waiheke Island Coastal Loop is about 3.6 miles long and located near Oneroa, New Zealand. The trail is great for hiking and trail running and normally takes 2-3 hours for a hike, and less than an hour for a tempo trail run.
The advantage of this six kilometer track is that it starts and ends at the ferry terminal, requires no additional transportation, and gives you a representative slice of the island flora coupled with spectacular ocean views and close-up looks at some of New Zealand’s priciest mansions. Just because you can’t afford them doesn’t mean you can’t dream!
Starting at the ferry terminal you cross an open beach in Matiatia Bay which can be blocked at high tide (if this is the case simply do the track in reverse by walking up the road towards Oneroa, giving the tide time to go down). The track out of the bay is clearly marked, although somewhat narrow, and makes a sharp turn to the right towards Owhaneke Bay with multi-million dollar mansions perched on the hillside above the trail. The walk here is spectacular and you’ll find yourself stopping many times to snap photos.
Turning into the bay after a kilometer or two, the trail goes along the top of a sheer cliff that still provides plenty of walking room. The surface is hard-packed and provides good footing as it goes steeply up and down; however, in wet conditions it could be treacherous so plan your trip accordingly and wear proper shoes with plenty of grip.
At the bottom of the trail, it flattens out onto a wide sandy beach and then turns up into the bush for a rather steep 100 meter climb to the trig (ship navigation marker) on top of the hill for great views. As you come up the hill the trig is to the right, across the road, and then the trail continues down the hill, backtracking along the road in the direction you came from, a short distance on the right.
This final pleasant downhill section is filled with native plants and shaded for most of the way, which is a welcome relief from the exposed and windy trig. The trail empties into a dirt road, which you will take to the left and will put you onto the main road. To return to the ferry terminal to complete the loop go right for 15 minutes. If you have extra time and energy you can also go left at the road and take a short 15 minute walk into Oneroa, where there are restaurants and shops to browse and enjoy.