Te Rau Puriri
Auckland Council Phone 301 0101
2911* South Head Road, South Head
Note the parking entrance is not numbered on maps... approx 2900. For you GPS enter 2886 South Head Rd, and continue driving to the next property.
Te Rau Puriri is a regional park on the northern part of South Head. It is a 247 hectare farm park that runs from a beach, on the Kaipara Harbour across South Head Rd, and inland toward Lake Ototoa. Riding is only available on the major part of the park, on the eastern side of South Head Rd. See map
Te Rau Puriri is a working farm. Please leave gates as you find them and double check they are latched correctly behind you. Park Rangers will do their best to keep unused gates open for you.
2016 update - More permanent trail infrastructure, including horse friendly lift latches, will be installed as the park fencing programme progresses.
Trails and Terrain
The land on the Kaipara side of South Head Rd, is a mix of steep slopes, and rolling pasture with small bush pockets. Views out over the Kaipara harbour from many vantage points along the way. There are two trails at Te Rau Puriri. You are welcome to ride anywhere on the paddocks.
The Main Trail - mixed use, marked with either orange plastic markers or painted square posts. Approx 2 hours Generally vehicle width. Most of the trail is grass track. Even where some gravel has been laid for vehicles there is plenty of grass edge, or an alternate track for barefoot \ tender footed horses. Steep slopes on the edge of trails are fenced, so you don't have to worry about clumsy horses.
The designated Horse Trail extends the Main Trail. Please be aware that where the Horse Trail deviates from the Main Trail it is steep in parts. New riders, or unfit horses, are welcome to continue on the Main Trail which is less steep.
This park is almost at the top of South Head, so it's a fair drive from anywhere. Approx 30 mins from Parakai. The official number for the park is 2911, but please note this is for the ranger house and part of the property on the west side of South Head Rd NOT the parking area or main part of the park. Aim for 2886, and then drive on, as the parking \ park DOES NOT HAVE A NUMBER on Google maps.
If you have GPS (or a navigator) set it for #2886. When it tells you your destination is on the right, you are nearly there. There will be bushland (on the right), and the road should be climbing a short hill in front of you. Look for a round barn on the corner, slow and indicate when you see it and start looking for the parking entrance (before the stock yards). The entrance is well marked, Watch for traffic coming around the corner at you!
NOTE: The street view photos of the parking area are old. Check the parking area photo below, there is now a big blue parking sign, but the entrance is still a sharp turn if you aren't paying attention.
Plan at least half a day, take the drive at a leisurely pace and just enjoy the outing. Plenty of windy narrow roads, and a few one way bridges, but it is all sealed roads. Check your mirrors and look for places to let others pass, the locals often drive at hellish speeds.
The parking area off South Head Rd (on your right if coming from the south), is near a blind corner, so do be very careful pulling across the road. Once in, it is a large carpark, with plenty of room to turn around. This is a shared car park, so do be considerate of other park visitors, but this is a pretty remote park so it shouldn't be crowded. Please clean up horse poo before you leave!
Update Dec 2016 - Car park improvements
Access to Te Rau Puriri is via the Network Pass (Free). The parking area entry gate is always open (unless the park is closed, of course), your registration for a horse riding pass will send you the code for the padlock on the horse entry gate, which is just to the side of a locked vehicle gate used by farm contractors, and park rangers.
The rangers built an awesome, huge mounting block on the other side just for us :)
No Beach Access
The Department of Conservation administers the Omokoiti Bay Marginal Strip stretching along the foreshore of the park; this extends the length of the Kaipara Coast from Mosquito Bay to Waipiro Bay. Effectively this means that horse riders cannot access the beach, because we are cut off from access across this strip (even though we could legally ride below the high tide mark as that is managed by Auckland Council).