Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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Karekare 'Little & Large'

Piha, Auckland

Submitted by Mal Law

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done

Closed More info

CLOSED DUE TO KAURI DIEBACK. You can sign up to e-updates re the track situation in both the Waitakere and Hunua Ranges here.

Please notify us if this has changed.

Grunt Factor: 21 ?

Gnarl Factor: 54 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, some big hills

Native bush


Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +10.5%

Average Downhill Gradient: -10.9%


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Estimated Times to Run







Starting from the car park, turn right on to the road and cross the one-lane bridge across the creek. On the far side bear right on to Pohutaka Glade Walk, which starts in a grassy clearing and then becomes a stunning sandy avenue amongst big old pohutakawa trees. A few hundred metres along is another grassy clearing. As you enter this look out for the track to the beach on your right (if you miss it you'll end up at the same place anyway).
On hitting the beach turn left (south) around the first point and pick up the Hillary Trail orange markers. These take you through sand dunes on to a track at the base of the cliffs and then through an old tunnel (once part of the tramway that was built to take felled logs to Whatipu for shipping.)
At the far end of the tunnel (only short, no headlight required) turn right and again follow the Hillary Trail markers through more sand dunes to the mouth of the beautiful Pararaha Stream.
A mix of boardwalk and sandy single track takes you to another junction (just over 4k into the run) where you turn left on to the Buck Taylor Track.
This gnarly bit of trail climbs steadily through lovely native bush, eventually topping out at around 300m altitude after two kms (ignore the left turn on to the Zion Hill track towards the bottom of the track.)
At the top of Buck Taylor turn left on to the Zion Ridge Track, which undulates for a km or so (past a huge pouriri tree) before starting to drop more steeply towards Karekare Beach. As you break out of the bush briefly you'll get stunning views of the beach and west coast before the trail drops once again into mixed kanuka forest. The next couple of kms are amongst the sweetest bits of downhill running anywhere in the Waitakere Ranges.
The trail spits you out at the clearing on the Pohutakawa Glade Track - turn right and follow it back out to the road. This is the 'Large' lop done.
You could cut your run short at this point or if you still have the energy to tackle the 'Little' loop, re-cross the bridge and run past the car park for a few hundred metres, keeping a sharp eye out for the start of the La Trobe Track, which is on your right, immediately before the first bach.
Take a moment to clean and spray your shoes at the kauri dieback station before slogging up the hill for about a km. The next junction you come to is La Trobe (left - closed from this point on because of kauri dieback) and the Tairere Track, which continues straight on (signposted to Lone Kauri Rd). This drops down to Company Stream, which is easily crossed with care (can be slippy) and after one more short uphill you start dropping downhill again. After a few minutes you'll get your first views of the beautiful Karekare Falls on your right, and soon after will be spat out of the bush right next to these. A great place for a dip on a hot day, or turn left and follow the easy trail back out to Lone Kauri Road. Turn right and run a hundred metres back to the car park. Done!
(The creek next to the car park is also a great place for a refreshing dip.)

Classic west coast black sand beach, pohutakawa that are stunning when in flower, nikau groves, stunning coastal views and a beautiful waterfall with great swimming hole to finish with.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

Plenty of parking and toilets.

7 km

13 minutes




The Hillary Trail markers on the beach are Orange plastic sticks. They can be a little hard to see, particularly in poor weather, so keep a sharp eye out for them.


Short-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

There is no drinkable water on the 'Large' loop. On the 'Little' loop there are a couple of streams that are generally OK if flowing well, but for a run of this length it is probably advisable to just carry your own.

Like everywhere in the Waitakeres the trails can get very muddy in winter or after heavy rain. This generally just adds to the fun though!

No real hazards other than lots of tree roots. Tides aren't an issue and the run down the beach can be done at any time.

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