Located on the coast at the mouth of the Waikato River, Waiuku Forest is the go-to location for local dog walkers & equestrians. A huge area filled with endless trails and places to explore off lead, it’s a great spot for an outing if you have a spare hour or two.
There are two main entrances – North and South. The South Entrance is at Ti Tree Bay Road, which is off Reid Road. The gates are open from 7am to 6pm, every day. For this visit I went to the River Car Park (all sign posted within the forest) which takes you down to the Waikato River. There is a small beach here suitable for the dogs to go for a swim, and you can walk along it a short way to get to other tracks. There are a couple of other “main car parks” and there are also sections where you can just park on the side of the main forest road to access various gates. It’s the sort of place where you can just go, pick a spot and see where it takes you. There’s so much to explore, and you could go for as little or as long as you wanted.
We did the Katipo Loop for this visit.
One of the perks of the forest is that you can have your dogs off lead. Once we were past the beach we had the forest to ourselves on this visit, but keep an eye out for other forest users (which include horses and motor sports people), keeping your dogs under control at all times. It would be very easy to lose a dog in here, so if you don’t have solid control with a good recall then I’d recommend keeping them on lead.
Looking over the Waikato River towards the Port Waikato hills.
The dogs enjoyed popping over this log! The little heading dog (Alice) was on her first ever outing after being picked up the night before so she had a long line on as a safety precaution.
The beach looking towards Port Waikato dunes/beach. There was a fisherman there, but otherwise deserted. It was quite sludgy when we were there so we opted to head back into the forest.
There is a lot of this cutty grass type stuff all through the forest. In some sections it is a bit overgrown, so if you’re worried about this you may like to wear longer pants to protect your legs. Didn’t bother us though, and the dogs had a blast exploring the sights and smells!
Flirt had a nice paddle in the river to cool off before we headed back to the car!
Car Parking – Lots of different spots to choose from. Roads are gravel and can be rough.
Toilets/Bins – None
Water – Access to River & Beach.
Other – This area is predominantly used by equestrians, so it is important that your dog is respectful of and safe around horses if off lead. There is also livestock grazing within the forest to be aware of. Gates open at 7am and close at 6pm, every day. A map of the entire area can be downloaded here. Parts of the forest has very soft, deep sandy tracks which can be hard work to walk on.