Ecology Trail – Forest
The Ecology Trail, from the forest entrance off the North Coast Track at Tāwharanui Regional Park, starts off in an area of forest regrowth, including a good number of kauri trees. It winds its way downhill to a gully with a modest stream. At this stage the forest is notably more mature, old puriri trees being particularly conspicuous. From the track junction at the stream, you can head east on Fishermans Track or west through the main section of the forest along the Ecology Trail, then through wetlands before exiting near the beach.
The forest is attractive but the bird life is the main reason for this walk. In about half an hour, including stopping and taking photos, you are likely to see numerous rare native birds, alongside the more common tūī and pīwakawaka (fantails). Kererū and korimako are numerous (extinct in mainland Auckland for many decades), while it is quite easy to see exceedingly rare takahe and very rare tīeke (saddlebacks). Plus there are native robins, bitterns, as well as various species of native ducks and other water birds. Try to walk carefully and quietly as these birds will often be just a couple of metres away.
It takes over an hour and a half to do the full loop. A quick alternative is to walk into the forest as far as the junction, then return the same way, about 40 minutes.