Location: Whakanewha Regional Park: take Carson's Road, left off Gordon's Road at gateway to park.
Access: Car park on Carson's Road, ca. 500 metres from park entrance
Length: ca. 5 km
Grade: Undulating; varied, with well-formed paths, gravel track and roadside verge.
Cafes and restaurants: none nearby
More information: http://regionalparks.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/whakanewharegionalpark/track/park%20walk
Whakanewha Regional Park provides a number of good dog walks, so long as we don't stray across Gordon's Road onto the beach, which is a dotterel breeding area. Long loops are possible via Central Track and Nikau Track, which cut across the centre of the park, and involve some steady climbs. This one is a somewhat shorter and gentler walk (about 5 km, most of it along the contour).
A good start point is the car park on the right of Carson's Road, about 600 metres beyond the park entrance. From here, we follow the road for a short distance east, then bear right through a gateway onto Tarata Track. This winds its way through coastal forest, with a great variety of trees (some of which carry names plates) for about 2 km, until it is joined from the right by Nikau Track. Another 6-700 metres further on brings us to a second junction, where Central Track crosses our route. We go straight on, however, along what is now called Rata Track for about 100 metres, then fork right down the the Cascades Loop Track. As takes us to a small but pretty waterfall, nestling amongst the trees.
Continuing the loop, we soon rejoin Rata Track, where we left it. Here, according to the park map, we can turn right, and follow Rata Track north towards Carson's Road. Maybe the map is right - but when we tried it, the path just disappeared at a place where we were meant to cross the stream. As an alternative, we can head back to the junction with Central Track and turn right along that. As a track it's not very interesting - it's wide and rather featureless - but at least we can be sure not to get lost.
Either route leads us back to the same place: a broad junction at the end of the Fenceline Bridal Track. Following this left for about 2 km, sometimes emerging out onto the broad verge beside Carson's Road, then dipping back into the forest, we eventually come back to the start of Tarata Track, about 150 metres from the car park.