1. Market day
Titirangi Village Market is famous for its range of crafts. Local artists and crafts-people have been selling their handmade jewellery, clothing, furniture, ceramics and everything else you can imagine here since dot. It’s evolved into a highly entertaining outing, with music and excellent food keeping the family-oriented hordes happy. And they are happy. The market is held on the last Sunday of every month, in the Memorial Hall on South Titirangi Rd; in summer it spills out onto the surrounding car park and the markets prior to Christmas are especially hot.
2. Arts and eats
Te Uru Waitakere is the region’s very good public art gallery. It blends inspired architecture, a stunning setting and top quality art. Touring and in-house curated exhibitions change regularly and are always smart, thought-provoking and surprising. Plus, the gallery’s shop specialises in exceptionally beautiful original New Zealand craft and design. If it all gets a bit overwhelming, take a break at Deco café next door for Mediterranean-inspired food while contemplating what to buy – a piece of ceramics, hand-blown glass or exquisite jewellery? Or perhaps an art book or an original print...
3. Huia and Whatipu
Huia is a small, sweet-hearted settlement on the Manukau Harbour, west of Titirangi. There is only a handful of houses here, arranged to catch the sun and enjoy views of a horseshoe beach. A compact museum, next door to the community hall near Karamatura Park, is top-notch, with loads of local kauri-milling history and artefacts from the wreck of HMS Orpheus.
Also top-notch is the Huia Food Store, from which supplies can be bought before driving over to the wild, wind-swept glory of Whatipu Beach.
4. Local history
Arataki Visitor Centre on Scenic Drive, six kilometres from Titirangi, is well worth the drive. Amongst its many qualities are the specular views of the Waitakere ranges, Manukau harbour and distant coast. The building itself is special, with an impressive central pou referencing and respecting Māori architecture and within, exhibitions reveal the special nature of the area, covering its history, culture, biodiversity and environmental charms. This is where to learn about the many walking tracks in the ranges.
5. Dog days
Kakamatua Inlet is one bay around from Cornwallis, on Huia Rd going west from Titirangi. A short walk through the bush from a car park leads to a wide scoop of beach with a stream running to an open stretch of sea.
The special attraction? Dogs. It’s one of the few places dogs can be off-leash – and they love it.
It’s a wild, hilarious medley of stick-chase at Kakamatua: best avoided for those who don’t appreciate soggy, sandy, salivating hounds.