The Coast to Coast Walkway in Auckland is awesome. It allows you to see some cities popular attractions at a leisurely pace.
This post covers the walk through my experiences, including details about some of the sites you’ll see and finishes with an FAQ about the walk.
The Coast to Coast walk is 16km long and forms part of the Te Araroa Trail (the walk the length of New Zealand).
If you’re visiting Auckland for a few days, this walk is a great activity to add to your itinerary. Some of the famous sites you’ll pass on your way include:
- The Viaduct
- Albert Park
- Auckland Domain
- Mount Eden
- Cornwall Park
- One Tree Hill
Both times I’ve started the walk from the CBD end so I’ll talk about the things you’ll come across in that direction. You can always walk the other way, by getting the train from Britomart to Onehunga. If you’d like to visit the Auckland Museum, I recommend walking from Onehunga towards the CBD.
Starting from the Viaduct about here, you get a glimpse of Waitemata Harbour, before going through Auckland City to Albert Park.
Are there signs? Yes. I take screenshots of this map but there are signs along the way you can follow. From the CBD direction they are yellow, and from Onehunga they’re blue. You can see a photo of them below, and while they are frequent, you can get lost if you were only using them. Have a backup method on your phone.
About Albert Park: Built in the 1880’s, it features native trees on slopes leading to the park’s highest point. With a fountain as a centrepiece of a seating area at the top, there are several memorials, including one of Queen Victoria. Unfortunately, the trees and offices prevent any city views. Underneath the park are tunnels built during the Second World War as a shelter. It’d be cool if they opened them up to the public!
After a couple of turns, you’ll find yourself walking through Auckland University. This is the main campus (there are six) where most of the students study at New Zealand’s largest University. There’s nothing to note of, you walk through the campus towards Auckland Domain which isn’t far away.
When you reach Auckland Domain, the map I linked to above has you skirting through the park, but you could spend half a day there in other circumstances.
About Auckland Domain: Auckland’s oldest park measures in at 75-hectares and like Albert Park, feels quiet and empty which is awesome given its location. You could visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum, or check out the sites. There are some statues, gardens, the Wintergarden Cafe, small walking trails, and even a duck pond. One end of the park has a bunch of rugby fields, you might even get to watch a part of a match.
Leaving Auckland Domain, it’s time to hit the streets through Newmarket (plenty of retail shops here) on the way to Mount Eden.
If you’ve looked at pictures of Auckland before visiting, you’ve probably come across a photo from the top of Mt. Eden looking over the Auckland CBD. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Auckland. Once you enter the Mount Eden grounds, it’s a steady incline all the way to the volcano’s summit. There are various routes to the top but it’s easiest to follow the map.
About Mount Eden: Mount Eden (Maungawhau in Maori) is a dormant volcano, and you can most definitely see the cone at the top which is quite satisfying (no one can enter, as it would become dangerous if you could). The Mt Eden summit is 196 metres above sea level (tallest volcano in Auckland) with 360-degree views.
After seeing one of the best views of Auckland it’s time to go down the other side of the volcano following the tracks. You’ll be walking through a residential area (Epsom) with quick detours through the Auckland College of Education and Melville Park before entering Cornwall Park.
Cornwall Park is massive and backs right onto One Tree Hill which is a separate park but when they’re combined they are over 220 hectares. You’ll start on Puriri Road, framed by tree branches reaching over from the parklands on either side.
You’ll then need to cross over Green Lane West, where the park’s heart is. There are lots of possibilities here (the Visitors Centre can help), with city views, Acacia Cottage, trails, gardens, and the farm. There are two full-time farmers here with some cows and sheep! Kiwi cliches ftw.
I’m not sure where the point is when you leave Cornwall Park and enter One Tree Hill, but the monument isn’t exactly hiding so you know where to go. The Auckland Coast to Coast map has you following the road up to the monument, but there is a dirt walking track to One Tree Hill you can take (you’ll see it just before passing through the gates). It’s quicker, but quite steep. Either way, before you know it, you’ll be at your final peak.
About One Tree Hill: This time, we’re at a volcanic peak that reaches 182 metres in height above sea level with more incredible views in every direction. The obelisk at the summit was completed in 1940, with a bronze Maori warrior statue standing on it. At the base of the obelisk is the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell.
Most Kiwis identify One Tree Hill as the hill with a lone pine growing on the summit. There have been attempts to grow other trees at the summit, but this one was the only survivor, until Maori activists took to the tree with a chainsaw. The first attack was in 1994 and the second in 2000 where the tree was never able to recover and was felled for public safety. So no, there is no tree on One Tree Hill.
Heading back down the hill, if you’re walking in the right season, you’ll see some baby lambs (cows and sheep are on the farmland) before spitting out onto Manukau Road for the final stretch. You’ll pass the Royal Oak shopping center, the place to go if you need to stop for a bite. You’ll take a quick detour via Jellicoe Park before arriving at Onehunga Harbour. There’s no obvious sign you’ve finished the Coast to Coast walkway until you see the Onehunga Bay Reserve, which isn’t exactly a picturesque finish.
If you want, feel free to spend some time in Onehunga (there’s a cable wakeboard park, the mall, and a mini putt course), otherwise it’s time to walk about one kilometer to the Onehunga train station and make your way back to the CBD (I assume this is the most practical option for most).
Auckland Coast To Coast Walk FAQ
How difficult is the walk? At 16km long, I’d go with a moderate-hard walk as there are two steep inclines, and besides that, the terrain is undulating for a good amount of the way. Everybody should be able to complete the walk. If you need to stop, you shouldn’t have too many troubles finding a bus (or two) to take you back to the CBD.,/p>
How long does the Auckland Coast to Coast Walk take? If you’re a speed demon, you could finish the walk in three hours. But I’d put aside 5-6 for most people, though you could take 8 hours if you fluffed around at all the sites, took lots of breaks, and visited the museum. Add another 40 minutes to get to/from Onehunga on the train as well.
What to bring? It’s hard to answer this. Auckland rains throughout the year, so it’s worth checking what the forecast is in advance.
Even if it’s warm, at least take a light jacket as it’s 16km and if you’re out there for 4+ hours, the weather can change. There are two steep climbs though (Mt Eden and One Tree Hill) so don’t go super conservative with the layers, as you’ll shed them soon enough.
Bring some snacks along, a small picnic could be fun too if someone is willing to carry everything. Don’t forget some cash!
I haven’t been on many Auckland walking tracks, but this one is pretty damn awesome!
If you’ve got any questions about the walk, ask away.
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