Follow any of the Shakespear Park trails and it won't take you long to understand why it is my favourite amongst the Auckland Regional Parks. Whether you choose to hike over lush green rolling hills, through densely forested areas, or across paddocks, you will be rewarded with panoramic views and beautiful beaches. There are plenty of things to do at Shakespear Park. It's an open bird sanctuary, with three main beaches, hours of walking and hiking trails, a waterfall, cows and sheep, a popular campground, and a lookout tower. Open to the public, it's a gathering spot for families and whanau alike.
Day hikes in the park
Hours of walking and hiking trails lead to rolling hills, lush forest, through farming paddocks, and even to a waterfall. The trails are well signposted and range from a five-minute walk to waterfall gully (from the car park) to a nearly 10km loop. There are trail maps available at the gated entrances. Each trail has a name and identified by colour at the trailhead, on the map, and many of the spots where trails intersect. Trail marker identified as poles with a coloured stripe at the top is found along each path.
Night hiking in Shakespear Park
Grab a torch (flashlight) and head out to the park for some night hiking. We often spot funnel spiders, sheet web spiders, and New Zealand glowworms. Although much of the park closes to vehicle traffic at dusk, pedestrians can enter and the waterfall gully car park remains open, allowing easy access into the park. One of our favourite things to do is to take a night hike to the waterfall, turn off our flashlights, and as our eyes adjust to the darkness, we see the glowworms.
Animals in the Paddocks
Shakespear is one of a handful of Auckland regional parks that have a sheep breeding and farming program, thus allowing everyone an opportunity to experience cows, sheep, and adorable baby lambs. It's okay to cross the paddocks and mingle with the animals, but stay clear of the baby lambs. The Hereford cattle are brown and white and were chosen for the park as they are generally people friendly. The advice if a curious animal approaches you is to ignore it and continue on your way.
New Zealand Birds at Shakespear Park
Conservation efforts are evident by the completion of the predator-proof fence that protects over 500 hectares of parkland, while still allowing people to visit. It converted Shakespeare Regional Park Auckland into open bird sanctuary, similar to that of nearby Tiritiri Matangi Island. The fence allowed the release of many endangered New Zealand bird species. As a result, the area is now home to a massive and growing bird population that includes endangered dotterels, Tui, whiteheads, robins, pukeko, shags, bellbirds, and even Little Spotted Kiwi Birds.
Endangered New Zealand dotterels
New Zealand dotterels breed in spring. Their Māori name is “tuturiwhatu”. They are plovers that grow to only 25 cm (less than 10 inches) in height. You can sometimes spot them on sandy beaches, sand spits, and tidal estuaries on the North Island.
Pukeko, common purple swamphens, wander about, most often in marshy wetlands, low-lying open spaces, and reeds. I have heard visitors describe a Pukeko as a purple chicken, but it's actually part of the Rail family of bird.