Waitakere City is a former local authority area that forms the western part of Auckland. Colloquially it is referred to as West Auckland and its inhabitants as Westies.
Waitakere City has an area of 367km2, with the urban area being 25.8km2, and a population of nearly 200,000.
Piha Beach Waitakere
In the reigion 71.9% of people are of European decent, 14.5% of Pacific Island, 11.0% Asian and 11.0% Maori, with 68% born in New Zealand.
English is spoken by just about all residents, but around 5% of people also speak Samoan and a similar amount speak Maori.
The average annual wage for a Waitakere resident is $20,800, higher than the national average of $18,500. 28.9% of people have some form of tertiary education, but 26.6% leave school with no formal qualifications, these are both lower than national averages. Unemployment is currently running at about 8.3%. The majority of the population who work in Waitakere work in manufacturing around 10% or so, followed by retail at around 8%.
From a distance away, you are likely to need the information on getting in to Auckland first.
When driving from either the north or south of Auckland it is not necessary to go through downtown or to cross the Harbour Bridge.
There the a train service that runs from from Auckland centre to Waitakere, but it is essentially a commuter service.
Waitakere City is best seen by car. Although buses and trains do service the area, many are slow and serve those living in the suburbs as opposed to those looking to see the sights. Information on public transport can be found at MAXX  Auckland Regional Transport, it allows you to select bus, train or ferry and so help to plan an itinerary.
A Surf Shuttle offers transportation via mini-bus to Piha Beach and around the surrounding wineries and beaches.
If you are only visiting Auckland or the North Island, Waitakere offers many of the the native delights, such as trees, bushes and flowers that make New Zealand unique.
Waitakere City houses some of New Zealands best wineries. These can be found in two main areas, Henderson Valley and Kumeu. In summer, on weekends, these will be packed with those looking to sit in the sun, have a bottle of wine and a relaxed late lunch. On Sundays Pleasant Valley on Henderson Valley road can be a good afternoon, often having live music. Other Vineyards in the area include Delagats and Montana, although these are much harder to find and do not have regular food service.
Another Micro Winery in the area is Artisans on Parrs Cross Road, here you can sample a variety of wines made and sold on site. You can stroll through the vineyards or look at the onsite gallery that sells a range of artwork and toys made by local artists, they also have a well priced and tasty breakfast and lunch menu.
Fishing on Muriwai Beach
The Kumeu area, makes for a wonderful day trip. Follow the North-Western motorway to the end and take state highway 16 to Kumeu. Within 10-15 minutes you will start to see a vineyards that have cafes and immaculate gardens. Stop for lunch before heading further on to Muriwai Beach, vineyards include, Coopers Creek, Soljans and Kumeu River.
Muriwai Beach is even more rugged and more natural and less unrbanised than Piha. It is a huge black sand beach that stretches as far as the eye can see (it infact does not stop until the kaipara harbour). The south head houses cabins and a camp ground, an ice cream shop and a fish and chip shop, as well as the main beach and the life guards tower. The north end is dominated by those in 4X4's and dirt bikes.
In Muriwai the forest has a bike park where many children learn how to ride on tracks amongst the trees. The entrance to this can be found approx. 10 minutes further on state highway 16 after the beach turnoff. Other activities in the area include BMX trails and racing and a huge high ropes course set in the forest called Tree Adventures (bookings recommended) there are 8 courses to do and it can take 2-4 hours depending on skill and fitness. Fruit shops offer good selections of fresh seasonal produce. When strawberries are in high season, 3 punnets will usually cost about $5.
Another attraction popular with tour groups it Arataki Visitors Centre on Scenic Drive, Titirangi. Around the centre there are nature trails which signpost the native trees and birds found in the area. Trails range from 10 minutes to 4-5 hours and are all fully pathed and signposted. The centre itself features models, history and facts of native birds and the surrounding area. The view from scenic drive is amazing, the west coast one side and the city the other.
Waitakere Ranges , The Waitakere Ranges are Auckland’s best kept secret. With stunning waterfalls breath taking views and rugged but beautiful beaches. This is a slice of paradise not to be missed.
Hiking in the Waitakere Ranges
The west coast beaches, such as Piha Beach, offer sand, surf and are popular for swimming, though dangerous for the unwary, with surf that changes with the tides, unpredictable deep holes, undertows and rips. Wherever possible, swim between the red and yellow flags and pay attention to the lifeguards on duty.
AWOL Adventures offer rainforest canyon climbing near Piha Beach
If the weather is not so good try the Waitakere Aquatic Centre, Alderman Drive, Henderson. Home of the 1992 Commonwealth Games competition pools, they have been though major expansion and renovation over the past 3 years. Now the complex consists of 2 x 50m 8 lane pools, a drive pool with 9 boards, a hydroslide, 2 toddlers pools, spa, sauna, steam room facilities, a lazy river and a wave pool. There is also an onsite gym and a cafe, entry is $6.50 Adults, $4 Children.
Should you wish to really indulge yourself, visit Tonic skin.body.spa, an award winning Day Spa with relaxation and therapy spaces inside and out.
Piha Surf School, 138 Seaview Rd, Piha, Waitakere, ☎ 09 8128123, . Piha Surf School coaches beginners but also has a special program for intermediate and competitive surfers.
Visit the West Coast Gallery, in Piha, . Well worth it. Housed in Piha's old fire station.
Many types of food can be had in West Auckland. Great North Road, which runs through a lot of Waitakere, has many establishments offering food. New Lynn has many cafes and sandwich bars.
Kelston doesn't really have anything special except a Halal butcher.
Glendene is a good place to head to find excellent kebabs, roast dinners and lovely homemade pizza, as well as gourmet burgers(expensive but good) and a regular fish and chip shop, the bakery behind the shops has the best chicken sandwiches out west and the best chocolate chip shortcake caramel slice ever its $1.50 and simply devine. Last stop on Great North Road is Henderson. There is a Thai takeaway (main & rice $10-13), a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant at the far end. Up by the bridge and the bus stop is another fish and chip shop.
Te Atatu Peninsula, has the only 24 hour kumara (sweet potato) chips and roast chicken in Waitakere.
Hadads on the main road has chicken, fish and chips and kebabs. Further past the round about there is an excellent ice cream parlour where a double scoop of locally made ice cream will cost about $2.20, 5 scoops around $3.70, milkshakes $3. These should be taken in the car and then head down to the beach (2 mins away). You can then sit in the car or walk around the reserve. This looks back un-interrupted across the harbour to the city, which on a Sunday day is very beautiful.
Piha Cafe, Seaview Rd, Piha Beach (opposite Piha Domain Camp), ☎ 8128 808, . Enjoy your coffee with counter food or menu either inside or outside in local native garden with spectacular views of Lion Rock. Eat in or takeaway. Simple daytime menu.
The Thirsty Rooster Glendene. Features Colin McCann artwork in the pub.
When in Waitakere City, keep in mind that licenses to sell alcohol is controlled by two trusts the Portage and the Waitakere. This means that everyone who sells alcohol must be registered by either one. It is not possible to buy beer or wine in the supermarket unlike the rest of Auckland. The trusts are non-profit organisation that reinvest the taxes on alcohol back into the local communities, schools, parks and sports teams. Although this is obviously less convenient, the local referendum always supports the trusts as they would prefer money going back into the community and not into supermarkets profits (lower prices, lower margins, less levied for the community). This does not mean that its more expensive to buy alcohol, but it is more controlled and hours are more restrictive. Another argument made for this is that there is more control over young people buying alcohol and in attempt to reduce under-age drinking.
Black Sands Lodge, 9 Sylvan Glade (off Beach Valley Road), ☎ 021 969924, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. Offers a choice of three self contained accommodations in a large, private native garden.
Eibsee Cottage, Beach Valley Rd (oppsite Piha Beach), ☎ 021 969924, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Accommodation in one of the finest examples of Piha's holidays homes.
Tanahlot, Beach Valley Rd (opposite Piha Beach), ☎ 021 969924, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Directly opposite Piha Beach this beautiful Bach is available for holiday rental. Tanahlot, named after the owners favourite place in Bali, is beautifully furnished, has every kitchen gadget a holiday home needs, beautiful bedding and off street parking.
The Kauri Suite, 9 Sylvan Glade, Piha, . A nice suite, close to the beach, suitable for two people.
Tui Suite, 9 Sylvan Glade, Piha, . A slightly smaller suite also in Piha.
Beach Cabin, 9 Sylvan Glade, Piha, . Budget suite just two minutes from the beach.
Most parts of Waitakere are close to the rest of Auckland. Auckland Airport can be reached in off-peak times in about 40 minutes heading through Hillsbourough Road. The North Shore can also be reached via Upper Harbour drive without the need for the Harbour Bridge. The Waitakere City Council Offices can reach Downtown Auckland Off-Peak in around 20 minutes only being 18km away from Union Street via the North-Western Motorway.