The Waitakere Ranges are PACKED with sites to see all throughout the expansive rainforest. You will find everything from hiking trails to viewpoints to beaches to waterfalls.
One of, if not the most famous of waterfall hikes is the Kitekite Falls Track. The walk is great for everyone and is a perfect opportunity for those that want to get some hiking in around the North Island of New Zealand.
This guide will go over some logistics of the track along with plenty of pictures and other helpful info along the way.
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1) Where Are the Waitakere Ranges
While many people might just think all the hiking and natural beauty is on the South Island of New Zealand, there is still PLENTY of incredible landscapes on the North Island as well.
The Waitakere Ranges make up over 16,000 hectares of land, which is full of hiking trails, waterfalls, beaches, and an incredible coastline.
What makes the Waitakere Ranges and Kitekite Falls such a hot spot, is that it is only a 45 minute drive from Auckland to get you there. You can make it a day trip or an overnight depending on how much you want to see and do.
Unfortunately the Waitakere Ranges have been going through some tough times as the Kauri dieback disease has been eating away at the Kauri trees all throughout the ranges.
Due to this many of the trails around the area are closed as experts try to contain and destroy the disease.
The Kitekite Falls Track, however, is open and you will need to take extra precaution when entering and exiting the track by washing your shoes thoroughly at the checkpoints. For more info about which trails are open check out the latest.
Below you can see a Google Maps view of the drive between Auckland and the start of the Kitekite Falls Track. If you zoom into the map, you can see I pinpointed down two parking lots.
One of them will take you directly to the start of the track, while the other is just a few minute walk away if the first one is full (you should see signs pointing you off to the second parking lot as you approach the trail by car).
2) How to Get to Kitekite Falls
As you can see above, the drive to Kitekite Falls is not too far away from Auckland’s city center.
Although it is pretty close all things considered, there is no public transport between Auckland and the Waitakere Ranges. That leaves you with two main options to take part of the track:
1) Rent a Car
If you plan on doing a New Zealand road trip, then you can easily add on the Waitakere Ranges to your plan. That is exactly what I did when I visited the country as I headed there as a day trip from Auckland.
Renting a car is a pretty popular option in New Zealand since there are just so many cities to see and activities to take part of. Overall, it just will make your trip that much more seamless and enjoyable.
There are several companies that offer car rentals either from the airport or from the city center. I recommend you take a look at the Driving in New Zealand Guide that goes into detail about the car renting process as well as the rules and regulations of the road.
Do note though that the drive down into the Waitakere Ranges can be a windy one. There are some tight turns and narrow streets to get you down there so just be super careful during the drive.
→ Be sure to check out Rentalcars.com when it comes to renting a car in New Zealand. The site will show you car options & prices from a variety of companies. This ensures that you will be able to choose the perfect car (and deal) for your trip to the country.
2) Join A Tour
Your second main option here would be to join a day tour from Auckland. There are a few companies that run these tours ranging anywhere around $60-$100+ NZD per person depending on how long and how much is packed into the day.
With the tour it may include other things like a visit the Arataki Visitor Centre, Piha Beach and Lion’s Rock, and taking part of the Kitekite Falls Track.
It is nice to have everything taken care of for you from pickup to drop off but of course it does come with a price.
Learn More: you can check out some Waitakere Ranges tours to find one that works best for your trip!
3) Kitekite Falls Track Fast Facts
- Trail Name: Kitekite Falls Track
- Starting and Ending Point: Kitekite Parking Lot off of Glenesk Road
- Length: 3.6KM Round Trip
- Duration: 1.5 Hours
- Track: Boardwalk / Dirt / Pavement
- Difficulty: Easy
Optional Add On: Once at the bottom of Kitekite Falls, you have the option to climb 20-30 minutes to the top of the falls. You will get some great views from above and can even try out the natural swimming pool.
Hiking Packing List
In general when it comes to hiking, there are a few main aspects to consider. These includes clothing layers, hiking shoes, hydration & fuel, electronics, and other essentials.
Below in a breakdown of some of the top items, but be sure to check out the Hiking Packing List for a more comprehensive view.
Layering is going to be a top consideration when hiking. You will want to be prepared for all sorts of weather so you can be comfortable in different situations. Some items may include:
→ Hiking Shorts
→ Hiking Pants
→ Short Sleeve Shirt
→ Long Sleeve Shirt / Sun Hoodie
→ Mid Layer Fleece
→ Puff Jacket (not always needed)
→ Packable Rain Jacket (Columbia Watertight II)
Note that your layers should be made of moisture wicking material as they are breathable and quick drying.
Having appropriate footwear will also be very important. You will want to have shoes with the necessary grip and support to keep you safe on the trail.
Whether it is hiking gear, electronics, or just some miscellaneous items, here are some other essentials to bring along on hikes.
→ Hiking Backpack (Osprey Talon 22) & Rain Cover (Joy Walker Cover)
→ Hiking Poles (Black Diamond Trekking Poles)
→ Water Bottle (CamelBak Chute or Katadyn Filter Bottle)
→ Portable Charger (Anker PowerCore 5000mAh)
→ Action Camera (GoPro Hero)
→ Energy Bars & Snacks
→ Hat & Sunglasses
→ Sunscreen & Bug Spray
4) The Kitekite Falls Track
Now that you know how to get to the track, it is time to get on the trail! At the entrance of the track, you will see the shoe cleaning station to pass through before hitting the trail.
Be sure to clean your shoes thoroughly! Once all clean, make your way through the entrance and begin the walk.
The terrain itself will not be too difficult to make your way through. It is almost all done on secured boardwalk, packed dirt, or pavement.
As you are making your way through the track, you are sure to pass by a variety of different plants, trees, wildlife and rivers along the way.
After about 30-45 minutes you will get to a point where you will get your first glimpse of Kitekite Falls from a distance. From there it is just a bit further to reach the bottom of the falls.
When approaching the bottom pools just be careful with your footing at it can get wet and slippery in some spots. As long as you just watch your step you should be just fine.
Once at the bottom of Kitekite you can spend some time relaxing, taking a dip, and having some lunch. It really is a very relaxing place to just hang out at and enjoy.
To the left of the waterfall you will see a sign pointing up to the Knutzen Track. Heading up in this direction you will reach the top of the falls in about 20-30 minutes.
This part will be a bit more uphill so just be prepared for a little bit of elevation gain. If you would like, hop into one of the natural swimming pools on top of the waterfall for some incredible photo opportunities – but again do watch your step!.
Once you have had enough time up top, it is just the same way all the way back down to the parking lot. Just follow along down the trail, past the bottom of the waterfall and onto the entrance of the track.
Altogether the Kitekite Falls Track including the top of the falls should take you about 2-3 hours + the amount of time you take to just hang out and relax.
It is a great walk for anyone to take part of and I am sure you will have a fantastic experience taking it all in.
5) Other Waitakere Ranges Walks
If you are around the area odds are you will want to take part of some of the other offerings of the Waitakere Ranges.
There is just so much to see and do around the area. I put together a list of some of the top options to take part of including:
1. The Arataki Visitor Centre
2. Piha Beach and Lion’s Rock
3. Tasman Lookout – Learn more about the Lookout!
4. Mercer Bay Loop – Learn more about the Loop!
5. Karekare Waterfall
6. Karekare Beach – Learn more about both the Waterfall & Beach!
» To learn more about each one head on over to the 7 Best Walks in the Waitakere Ranges Guide
6) Where to Stay in Auckland
If you are taking the day trip from Auckland, you will need to find a place to stay. Below are some of my top choices to choose from when deciding on accommodation:
2. Jucy Snooze
3. Haka Lodge
You can also enjoy this day in the Waitakere Ranges as part of the 10 Day New Zealand North Island Itinerary I have up on the site. It includes everything you want to know to take part of an incredible trip!
That wraps up the guide to the Kitekite Falls Track. If you have any questions or comments feel free to write them in below!
And don’t forget to take a look at the other New Zealand itineraries and guides up on the site. Have fun out there and safe travels!
Be sure to take a look at some of the other New Zealand North Island guides up on the site including: