A man standing on top of a green hill overlooking the Omanawanui Track and coast

Omanawanui Track – Epic Ridge Walk Near Auckland

Home » New Zealand » Omanawanui Track – Go on an Epic Ridge Walk near Auckland

Located at the entrance to the Manukau Harbor, the Omanawanui Track is a scenic escape into the West Coast’s rugged beauty. The track gives you stunning views of huge cliffs covered in native bush.

The swirling waters of the Manukau Harbor are not somewhere you want to swim. But it is an amazing sight to view from high above on the trail. Whether you are an avid hiker or a casual walker the Omanawanui Track is a great experience for locals and travelers.

Omanawanui Track Map

The Omanawanui Track is next to Whatipu Beach at the entrance to the Manukau Harbour. It is 40 km (25 miles) from downtown Auckland and takes 1 hour to drive there.

The last few kilometers/miles of the road are unsealed and not in the best condition. Some people in the reviews did not like driving on this road. But we had no problems with it. Just be prepared that you will have to drive on a narrow dirt road at points.

See below an Omanawanui Track Map to plan your trip. You can also find a more detailed map of the track on All Trails.

Read here: Auckland’s best Coastal Hike 🥾

A map showing the location of the Omanwanui Track

Omanawanui Track Car Park

The Omanawanui Track Car Park is on Google Maps. There is a lot of parking but it can fill up quickly on weekends and public holidays. We went on Easter and it was packed.

As a lifelong Aucklander, I was surprised at how busy it was when we went. I had never heard of the track or Whatipu Beach but plenty of other people certainly had!

If the main car park by the beach fills up there is another overflow car park down the road. But you should get there early if you want a good spot. There are also toilets by the main car park, so I recommend using those before starting the trail.

Read here: A Night in Paradise at Lane Cove Hut

The Omanawanui Track car park surrounded by green hills

When to Go

I recommend only doing the Omanawanui Track on a clear day. It is usually very windy in this area of the Waitakeres. So if it is cloudy it will not be enjoyable on the track.

Track Starting Point

Track Length: 4.8 km/3 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: moderate, there are hills and 2420 stairs
Dogs: not allowed on the trail

The starting point of the Omanawanui Track is not obvious from the car park. You will need to walk towards the beach where you will see a small footbridge. You will then need to take another small bridge to the left to take you to the track.

There is a small information area near the first bridge with some interesting information about the area’s geology. So do check that out.

When you start the track you will notice there are lots of rocky outcrops in the surrounding hills. This is because over 120 million years ago there was a huge underwater volcano. This created the big cliffs and rugged landscapes around the track.

From the start of the track, you will head straight up a fairly steep hill. After just a few minutes of walking, there are great views over Whatipu Beach and the surrounding hills.

Don’t miss any of our New Zealand posts, subscribe here 💌

A path to Whatipu Beach covered in dark volcanic sand
A man walking up some stairs next to an old volcanic lava flow on the Omanawanui Track near Auckland New Zealand

Path to Paratutae Island

Partway up the hill there is the option to walk a side path with views of Paratutae Island. It is about a 20-minute return walk. I highly recommend it!

It is only a short walk to the lookout point and there are great views of Paratutae Island and Whatipu Beach. Just walking to this point and returning to the car park is worth it if you do not feel like a long walk.

Paratutae Island used to be a Maori Pa site. It was in a great strategic location due to its location at the entrance to Manukau Harbour. Today it is a popular fishing spot and you will see fishermen on the sheltered waters on the left-hand side.

View of Paratuetae island from the Omanawanui Track

Fun Fact: You can see from the photo that Paratutae Island does not seem to be an island. This is because in the past it was an island. But over time more sand piled up on the rocks until it was connected to the mainland in 1989.

A man with black denim shorts and a backpack on looking out over Whatipu beach from a lookout point on the Omanawanui Track

From the viewpoint, you can see waves crashing on the sand bar at the entrance to Manukau Harbour. This sand bar makes the harbor entrance very dangerous. It is the main reason why it is not used by many boats to access Auckland.

It was the location of New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster. In 1863 the HMS Orpheus was sailing to New Zealand carrying soldiers to fight in the land wars. The boat hit the sand bar and sunk causing 169 out of the 289 people on board to drown.

Book: Cheap travel health insurance with SafetyWing. Read about our experience plus other options here 💪

Path to Signal Station

After the side path to Paratutate Island get prepared for more stairs. But these stairs will also take you to the most spectacular views on the track.

A rocky point surrounding by stormy seas on the west coast of Auckland in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park
A man standing on the edge of a clifftop at the entrance to the Manukau Harbour

From here the stairs take you up a steep ridgeline. From the ridge, there are amazing views of the cliffs lining the entrance to Manukau Harbour.

You can see Auckland in the distance. I enjoyed the feeling of being in such a rugged and wild place while also being able to see the city. Because you easily forget that such amazing nature is so close to the city center.

A group of hikers walking up some stairs on the Omanawanui Track

After the first viewpoint, the track descends into a gulley before ascending another steep set of stairs. If you are reasonably fit the stairs will be no problem. But if you are out of shape it will be a bit of a challenge.

The path eventually climbs up to the trig station. There is a boardwalk around here where lots of people choose to stop to have something to eat. It was very crowded when we arrived so we found a more secluded spot further along to have our lunch.

A woman standing at the top of a set of stairs overlooking the Manukau Harbour on the Omanawanui Track
A woman wearing a denim jacket standing next to a cliff top overlooking the Manukau Harbour near Auckland New Zealand
A wooden board walk in the Waitakere Ranges

At the trig station, many people choose to turn back to the car park. But you can also continue along the path further.

The views after the trig station are beautiful and well worth walking a little further. The track eventually reaches a section that enters some beautiful New Zealand bush.

We were impressed along these sections with how much effort has been put into the track. There are nice wooden boardwalks that make walking a breeze.

The track was closed down in 2018 because of Kauri Die Back and re-opened in 2021. Many upgrades were made to the track during this period and the council has done a fantastic job.

Looking for a FREE place to stay in New Zealand? Sign up to Trusted Housesitters for free + use discount code HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS for 25% off your yearly membership! Read about our experiences here 🤠

A man with a blue hat and a back pack on walking up a set of stairs on a track through native New Zealand bush
A tree stem with an orange Hillary Trail symbol on it

Hillary Trail

In the bush, you may see some orange markers with the Hillary Trail on them. The Hillary trail is a 77km (48 miles) long multi-day hike through the Waitakere Ranges.

Unfortunately, because of Kauri’s Die Back Disease, it is no longer possible to do the whole hike in one go. But if you are keen to do more hikes in the Waitakere Ranges doing sections of this hike is a good idea.

Useful tips? Say thanks with a coffee! 💛

Heading back to the Car Park

If you decide to keep going from the Signal Station through the bush you will eventually reach the road to the car park. You can either walk to the car park down the hill or go back on the path the way you came.

The advantage of going back on the road is that it is all downhill. The disadvantage is that cars will be on it. So you will have to stand to the side and they will leave dust clouds behind. For a more scenic route, I recommend returning via the track.

Here are some websites and services we use and recommend for planning a trip to New Zealand. Check out our Travel Resources for all tips.

✈️ Find cheap flights to New Zealand on Kiwi.com
🏠 Get a free place to stay on TrustedHousesitters
🤩 Find the best hotel deals on Booking.com
🤠 Book attractions and tours on GetYourGuide
🚗 Find affordable rental cars on Rentalcars.com
📲 Get an eSim for instant connectivity on Airlo
✅ Book travel health insurance with SafetyWing
💌 For discounts sign up for our Travel Newsletter

TrustedHousesitters - See the world in a new way

Enjoy the Omanawanui Track!

The Omanawanui Track is a little bit of a hidden gem in Auckland. None of my friends or family have heard of it despite living there our whole lives.

It is a shame because the track is so spectacular but it is human nature not to appreciate or explore what is on your back door stop. Whether you are a local or visitor to Auckland I am sure you will love walking the Omanawanaui Track!


Hey there! Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us to generate income and keep creating content for you. So we greatly appreciate your support! Thanks!

Hi, I am Allan, a travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. I'm a former lawyer who turned into a full-time nomad in 2020. For the last 4+ years I've been traveling the world. I'm always on a hunt for good food, activities on a budget and workouts on the go. I hope you find my tips helpful and get inspired to travel more!

Helpful? Share it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top