Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery is based in Titirangi at the gateway to the Waitakere Ranges, Manukau Harbour and West Coast beaches. The area is also renowned for its lively creative scene. So there's plenty to do while you're in the area, whether it's an afternoon drive, a daytrip or a weekend stay.
Home to some of New Zealand's most vibrant arts communities, West Auckand is full of opportunities to view and experience a range of creative expressions. Don't miss the monthly Titirangi Market on the last Sunday of each month for a diverse range of arts, crafts, tasty treats and live music. After you've explored the Lopdell Precinct and Titirangi, the McCahon House Museum and Artists' Residency is a short downhill trip to the east just before French Bay, which inspired many works by Colin McCahon with its south-facing views of the Manukau Harbour. In late summer, Titirangi is home to the annual Titirangi Festival of Music and spring is the time for the Going West Books and Writers Festival.
Further north around Avondale, there is the All Goods Whau Arts Space and their annual Whau Arts Festival, as well as other projects or events organised by the Whau Arts Broker. Also in the Whau area, nearby New Lynn is worth exploring for its wealth of public sculpture and ceramic history, including the iconic story of Crown Lynn pottery, which is told in displays at the New Lynn Library and the recently opened research centre, Te Toi Uku/The Art of Clay Museum. New Lynn is also home to Te Pou, the Auckland home for Maori theatre, and the Charlotte Museum, for impressive collections related to lesbian culture.
Heading towards the West Coast beaches, the Arataki Visitor Centre is generously endowed with beautiful contemporary carvings and information about local iwi, Te Kawerau a Maki, as well as exhibitions, nature displays and hiking information. The beach settlement of Piha has the West Coast Gallery for local community artists, and Huia has the Huia Settlers Museum (open Sundays). At the northern end of West Auckland, the Corbans Estate Art Centre in Henderson is home to artist studios, performance spaces, a busy programme of classes and workshops, and exhibitions of contemporary art.
Titirangi is bustling with cafes and has many options for visitors, whether you're after an early breakfast, take-out coffee, an afternoon snack, fish 'n' chips and bakery food or fine dining. As well as Deco next door, we recommend nearby Fish & Friends, Stripe Cafe, the Hardware Cafe, Vevo and The Fringe.
Driving west, just past the Arataki Visitor Centre, is The Refreshment Room, set in the Waitakere Ranges with glorious views. To the south, whether picking up gourmet supplies, a quick snack, or staying for a long lunch, The Huia Foodstore is the most charming beachside eatery we know. We also love sampling the diverse cuisine available at the weekly New Lynn nightmarkets on Thursday nights, and the artisan foodstalls at the monthly Titirangi Markets.
The Waitakere Ranges region is world famous for its raw beauty. You'll be spoilt for choice with beaches: Titirangi Beach and French Bay are just down the road from Te Uru, or you can drive to other stunning but closeby beaches in Bethells, Cornwallis, Karekare, O'Neills and Piha. The forests offer another scenic pastime with a selection of short and longer walking trails though the regenerating forest. Regardless of where you choose to go, opportunities to surf, swim, fish and hike will always be close at hand. Even in winter, perhaps even more so, the moody landscapes of the wild west coast are worth a visit; internationally renowned, these views have featured in many films and have been an inspiration for generations of artists.
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Want more time to explore? There are plenty of places to stay the night, a weekend retreat or even longer - you may never want to leave! If a retreat or motel is what you're after, we recommend Rangiwai Lodge, Heritage Collection Waitakere Estate and Bethells Beach Cottages. Titirangi and the surrounding areas also have a number of beautiful baches and private homes that can be rented for short or long term stays. Visit www.holidayhouses.co.nz, www.bookabach.co.nz or www.hotelscombined.co.nz to see what's available.