Waitakere Dam Walk

Waitakere Dam Walk

The Waitakere Dam Walk is one of the few walks that was left open when a rahui was placed over the Waitakere Ranges to protect the kauri trees. Constructed as a paved vehicle access road provides access for utility vehicles that may need access to the dam, it is a smooth walk that requires merely only a pair of jandals. Although the walk is much alike walking along a sealed road the walking amongst the forest is rather enjoyable. Access to a number of further walks can be located along the Waitakere Dam Walk. At the time of walking this track and writing this post the majority of the tracks branching off the Waitakere Dam Walk were closed. Before you set off on this walk ensure you refer to the Auckland Regional Council for the track’s current status.


40 min


3.35 km


190 m


Allowed on a Lead



Getting our daily visual dose of vitamin greens in on this walk | @_adildavidphotography_

36°53′58″S 174°31′48″E

In Detail

Although the thought of walking down a sealed road may not sound quite like the most enticing adventure that you are usually after, the walk to Waitakere Dam does have a few hidden gems. As a photographer experimenting with the contrast between this large industrial structure and the surrounding forest provided an awesome setting to experiment and learn. Different angles you can capture from taking the time and exploring the nooks and crannies that the dam has to offer. If you have young children exploring around the dam is a must. Although getting back to the car is a challenge, the sounds of cars driving by provides the necessary motivation required to get back to the car. Pack an extra snack for the return journey to stop the energy levels from fading.

Looking out over the lush forest from Waitakere Dam while passersby look out from the bridge to nowhere

Getting There

The start of the track is accessed along the main stretch of Scenic road in the Waitakere Ranges. Depending on which side of Auckland you are coming from and the traffic will depend on which way you get to the start of the walk. For reference purposes, I have included directions from Auckland Airport as a placeholder for directions and driving times to the start of the walk. Unfortunately the car park is quite small and usually fills up quickly. Please be considerate of others and ensure that you don’t block another car in when you park up.


It isn’t far that you can diverge off the trail, all you have to do is follow your nose down the sealed path to the dam. The path descends right the way down to the dam. Be sure that you have some energy left in the tank for the hike back up the hill as it’s up the entire way back. Closed trails have caution tape along with a sign up stating that there is no access along the trail due to kauri dieback. Even the small places that you can explore within the forest around the dam have been blocked and clearly marked with warning signs.

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Kauri Dieback

Kauri dieback is a major issue that faces the Waitakere Ranges. It is a disease that kills off many of our beautiful native kauri trees. The disease is spread by foot from people stepping in an area containing the disease and it then transported on the bottom of our shoes to another area. At the start of the open tracks throughout the Waitakere Ranges shoe cleaning initiatives have begun. You are required to clean and scrub your shoes before entering the forest area to help prevent the disease from spreading. To read more about how to stop the kauri dieback check out Keep the Kauri Standing.

Top: Cleaning those sneakers with the spray and shoe brush before heading into the forest
A couple of the sprayers located right at the start of the track, roadside

Waitakere Dam Walk

After spraying, brushing and cleaning your shoes you may make your way into the forest. It’s important that along the way you stick to the path as much as possible to protect the kauri trees in the area. The walk is fairly smooth walk right the way down to the dam, following a gentle descent. You’ll see many walks that would usually be accessible to the public branching off form the Waitakere Dam Walk, however, many of them are closed at this time due to Kauri dieback. According to signs the walk it should take you approximately 40mins to reach the dam from Scenic drive (road).

Top Left: Looking down the path towards the dam near the start of the walk
Top Right:
One of the kauri trees that can be seen close to the edge of the track
It’s a smooth rolling path all the way down to the dam but all uphill on the way back

Waitakere Dam

Waitakere Dam isn’t one of the most spectacular sights in the world, however, there are still a small number pathways in and around the dam still have not been closed. The dam is a large industrial structure that stores a large amount of Auckland’s drinking water. Walking access is permitted along the dam, right the way to the other side of the reservoir. Beyond the dam, many of the walks are still closed at the time of writing this.

Top Left: Walking along the top of the dam | @_adildavidphotography_
Top Right:
Giving the dam some scale
Looking across and around the Waitakere Dam from the steps leading to its base | @_adildavidphotography_

Near the start of the dam, a number of steps lead down to the base of the dam. Following these steps down takes you deeper into the forest. It’s the closest along the whole walk that you can get with the trees. Neglected signs and closed tracks along with a bridge to nowhere create a playground for exploration among the closed trails.

Top: A portrait of Nathan (the Author) taken by Adil | @_adildavidphotography_
Middle Left: The lush greenery surrounding the area was absolutely gorgeous
Middle Right:
An overgrown and neglected sign near the bottom of the dam
Looking back down the steps towards the platform | @_adildavidphotography_

Railway Tracks

Near the bottom of the steps, a railway track protrudes from the forest. The track leads onto the closed Tramline track taking you deeper into the Waitakere Ranges featuring an epic long tunnel. The forest canopy above your head does make for an enchanted forest type vibe around this section. The scarcity of light under the canopy makes for some epic silhouettes closer to the steps.

Nathan (the Author) looking down the old railway tracks near the base of the dam | @_adildavidphotography_

Bridge to Nowhere

Close to the beginning of the railway tracks is a bridge which overlooks the forest below the reservoir. An area where water would have once flowed freely back out to sea. The view out over the forest certainly gives you your daily dose of vitamin greens. Access beyond the bridge is also closed due to erosion and/or kauri dieback.

Top: @_adildavidphotography_ enjoying the moment and the surroundings
Bottom: One of the many singns discovered whilst exploring the dam and it’s surroundings