How to choose? The Shore is blessed with short and long walks and cycleways, many of which make the most of the area’s stunning coastline. We’ve selected three of the most accessible to help you explore North Shore.
The full North Shore Coastal Walk begins at Long Bay Regional Park and weaves through the beaches and suburbs all the way out to Devonport (or vice versa).
But for something more realistic for day-trippers, try the Takapuna to Milford (“black rocks”) section which has its own challenges and beauty – and a warning to check the tides (as you must do for the full coastal walk). Parts can become inundated at high tide and while there is a concrete path for much of the way, some rocky sections involve a little clambering over uneven rocky sections. If you’re not confident on uneven terrain, you can detour up to Hurstmere Road/Kitchener Road via any of the side roads that lead onto the walkway, and complete the route either way admiring some of the stunning townhouses, apartments and mansions along the coastline, with the added bonus that you’ll get glimpses of nearby Lake Pupuke as well. But do try to get as far as Thorne’s Bay; this sheltered spot is perfect for a swim midway between Takapuna and Milford.
Full North Shore Coastal Walk. Distance: 23km. Time: 7hrs. Difficulty: easy. Access: from the northern end of Takapuna Beach, or from Long Bay. Visit aucklandnz.com for more information.
Black Rocks walk: Distance: 2.1km. Time – could be as little as 20 minutes – but if you have a camera or stop for a swim or crab hunting, allow longer. More info: https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/arts-culture-heritage/heritage-walks-places/Documents/takapuna-milford-walk.pdf
This lovely section of the full coastal walk can start (or end) with a wander up and down the main street of Devonport, with its boutique shops. If you get to the top of Devonport’s Victoria Road, stop in at The Vic – a venue rescued from near-complete decline, now operating as a vibrant community hub, cinema and live theatre venue. Or you might be tempted by the mountain looming over you. This is Takarunga/Mount Victoria. A climb to the top rewards with expansive views of Auckland city, the Waitematā Harbour and the North Shore. While you’re there, look for what’s left of the disappearing gun and lookouts that date back as far as the 1870s. You can then wander back down through Devonport’s heritage streets to the waterfront, along King Edward Parade and the coast to the Navy Museum at the base of Maungauika/North Head – a must-stop venue for food, drinks and ice-creams. Wander through the museum itself to learn about the past and present of the Royal New Zealand Navy, making sure you get right to the back to see local artist Helen Pollock’s memorial sculpture.
From the museum you can walk across a short rocky area on the coast, and take the pathway right around the base of North Head, or head up through one of the many tunnels that honeycomb the mountain. Either way, make for the top and enjoy the views and Department of Conservation information. Make sure you allow time to explore the tunnels and other lookout points, and learn more about how New Zealand planned to ward off the “Russian threat” in the late 1800s.
From the top you’ll see the sandy arc of Cheltenham Beach to the north; steps lead down onto the beach, or you can walk down the road and take a left turn to get there. If the tide’s low, continue around the coastline (mostly sandy) to Narrow Neck Beach. Here is another café for refreshments, just near bus stops with a half hourly service that can take you back to Devonport, or onwards to Takapuna.
The full 9.5km route can be walked, but locals more often tick off short sections as part of their daily exercise regime, or tackle the whole route on two wheels in about 40 minutes.
Starting at Devonport, hire bikes from Cycle Auckland or THINK Electric Bikes, and head up Victoria Road through the shops, turning left into Calliope Road to follow the signs down into Stanley Bay and around Ngataringa Bay until you reach Lake Road. There’s a short stretch here up the cycleway on this main road out of Devonport but you soon make another left turn and from here on, the well-signposted route is mainly on quiet suburban streets, coastal board walks and specially constructed shared pathways across wetlands and through short sections of bush. Take the time to admire the wetlands and small inner harbour beach areas, explore the large O’Neills Point Cemetery on Bayswater Avenue, or stop to enjoy the flying fox at the “pirate park” (officially the Northborough Reserve playground), next to which is burgeoning evidence of Auckland’s urban intensification.
Just beyond the playground, take the left turn onto a bridge and boardwalk that skirts a dense mangrove forest. At the end of this section, the signs mysteriously disappear, but climb (it’s a bit of a haul) Frances Street where you emerge, and cross Jutland Road. Your reward for the drag up Frances Street is a glide down to Hart Street, where you turn right to pedal up towards Lake Road again. This, too, may test your stamina unless you’ve had to foresight to hire an electric bike. At the top, turn left to join the main road cycleway and enjoy the short flat finish to Takapuna.
There are plenty of cafés and restaurants at either end, and a short detour at around the halfway mark to Eversleigh Road leads to the hugely popular Little and Friday café where you can indulge knowing that the exercise will deal with any calories you consume.
You’ll find the map and a guide to the walk at https://at.govt.nz/cycling-walking/cycle-walking-maps/devonport-to-takapuna-shared-path/