The Waitakere Ranges, just to the west of Auckland, are a wonderful place to explore if you are spending any time in the Auckland area. The "rainforest of Auckland", this is an area of wild beaches and pristine bush-clad hills.
The main shopping area of the Waitakere Ranges is the lovely little village of Titirangi (Maori translation: "long streaks of cloud in the sky"). There aren't too many places left near Auckland that have a village atmosphere but Titirangi is definitely one of them (others of note are St Heliers and Parnell).
Titirangi is reached by driving west from Auckland city along the north western motorway. Take the Henderson exit and pass through Glen Eden. Soon you will leave suburbia behind and enter the bush covered hills which give Titirangi its charm and appeal.
Titirangi marks the start of Scenic Drive, the main road running through the Waitakere Ranges. Further on from the village are the roads to the beaches of Huia, Piha, Murawai, and Anawhata and to the many walks and trails throughout the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.
Titirangi, and the west coast in general, has always had a special attraction for members of the artistic community. With the bush being so pervasive, many of the houses are completely tucked away and private. The narrow winding roads also lend an atmosphere of isolation which has been of great appeal to artists and alternative lifestylers so the area has always had a reputation for fostering 'alternative' types.
Some of the prominent artistic New Zealanders who have lived in Titirangi include musician Tim Finn (of Crowded House fame), writer Maurice Shadbolt and artist Colin McCahon. The strong artistic tradition is evident in the village itself, with an active theatre and art community based at the historic Lopdell House in the center of the village.
The Titirangi shopping area is very small but nevertheless it is the largest commercial center in the Waitakeres. There is a small supermarket, wine shop and several cafes and restaurants.
Dining and Cafes
There are some excellent eateries in Titirangi. For lunch or a daytime coffee there are several cafes and they are all very good. The cafe in Lopdell House bakes its own very good breads and pastries.
For dinner there is quite a choice, including three Indian restaurants, one Turkish and a couple offering New Zealand International fare. Just outside the village is an award-winning Italian restaurant, The Refreshment Room, that also provides a memorable evening.
Other Things to See and Do in Titirangi
Within the immediate vicinity of Titirangi village there are a number of things to do. The beaches of Huia and Titirangi are close by. The Arotaki Visitor Center is also not far; this is a good place to visit for information on the entire Waitakere area.
And wherever you might be, a walk along a Waitakere bush track will be not be far away.
Titirangi may well be one of the best-kept tourist secrets in Auckland. It is a very worthwhile starting or finishing point for a day in the Waitakere Ranges or at the west coast beaches.