Awaruku Bush Reserve: Waterfall and Glow Worms in Auckland!

The Awaruku Bush Reserve is probably the best known of the Torbay Tracks and is a remarkable piece of native bush containing features such as a waterfall, a 650+ year old kahikatea tree, 500+ year old puriri tree and glow worms in Auckland!

650 year old kahikatea tree in Awaruku Bush Reserve
650 year old kahikatea tree
Track Details
Track Location Torbay
Track Distance 400m – 1.8km
Walk Time 15 – 60 mins
Difficulty Rating 1 – 2
Suitability Family Easy
Wheelchair/Buggie Yes
Track Condition All Year
Quest Available Not Yet

Navigation Links:

Google Map: Awaruku Bush Reserve
Geocaching Map: Awaruku Bush Reserve


A Quest has yet to be produced for this track – watch this space for a new Quest soon!

Why walk this track?

Awaruku Bush Reserve Walkway and Bridge
Walkway and Bridge

This is the original and iconic Torbay walk.

Options are available for everyone – walk to the waterfall pushing a wheelchair or baby buggy.  Climb the hills through the middle of the reserve or tackle the amazing staircase which at times has you level with the treetops.  At night, visit the glowworms and in the rain, enjoy the waterfall.  There are picnic tables en-route, massive native trees more than 500 years old and the historic plaque to the original 107 year old St Mary’s by the Sea church that burned down in 1998.

The Awaruku Bush Reserve was preserved from the Developers in Torbay in the late 1960’s and has been enhanced and maintained by an enthusiastic group of local residents, among them the ‘bushman’, Mr Hugh Willis.

In the early  1900’s, the Reserve was used as a quarry for taking rock for local roading.  However, the rock did not bind together properly for road construction and the quarry was abandoned.  The quarry area is now home to the waterfall, bird-life and the glowworms.

Unique Trees:

  • 650 year old kahikatea
  • 500 year old puriri
  • natural cathedral made from canopy trees

The Awaruku Bush Reserve can also link to the Glenvar Glade Track, forming a 1.2km loop walk.  It can be longer if you also choose to complete the interior Awaruku Bush Reserve loops.  The Awaruku – Glenvar loop is shown on the Awaruku Bush Reserve Map.


Track Entry Points:

Awaruku Bush Reserve Awaruku Road Entrance
Awaruku Bush Reserve Entrance

The main entry point for the Awaruku Bush Reserve is the original track entrance on Awaruku Rd.

  • Next to 13 Awaruku Rd, Torbay
  • At the end of Relko Cres, Torbay
  • 2 entrances On Glenvar Rd, by the corner of the Glade area (see on map)
  • Next to 20 Morgreen Heights, Torbay

Note: The Awaruku Bush Reserve track links to the Glenvar Glade track to form a complete route.  This is shown on the map.

Track Highlights:

St Marys Church Torbay Memorial Plaque
St Marys Church Memorial Plaque

This track is full of highlights:

  • Glowworms in Auckland – by the waterfall at night!
  • huge 650 year old kahikatea tree
  • massive 500 year old puriri tree
  • See the tree tops from the wooden staircase
  • St. Mary’s by the Sea Memorial Plaque
  • Waterfall in the rain


Awaruku Bush Reserve Staircase
Awaruku Bush Reserve Staircase

Running and walking:

The Awaruku Bush Reserve is ideal for both running and walking.

The gradient is not overly arduous like some of the other Torbay Tracks, although some may find the wooden staircase with approximately 100 steps a bit much.

The surface is excellent and tracks very well maintained.


Wheelchairs and Buggies:

Glenvar Glade Walkway Torbay
Glenvar Glade Walkway

The track from the Awaruku Road entrance to the waterfall is perfect for wheelchairs and buggies.  It is mostly flat and is quite wide.  The track also from Awaruku Road to Relko Crescent is also good, although there is some slope towards Relko Crescent which requires a bit of extra effort pushing a wheelchair or buggy.

Disclaimer: Stating this track can be completed in a wheelchair or buggy does not mean it meets standard health and safety regulations. There may be parts of the track that are steeper than wheelchair health & safety requirements and parts of the surface that are not as per regulations.  It does indicate the track can be enjoyed with reasonable care, even if at times a little extra effort and care may be required. can not be held liable for any accidents that may occur on a recommended track.  People use the tracks at their own risk and with due care.


The Awaruku Bush Reserve is a wonderful track for people of all ages and abilities.  It contains many highlights that are sure to provide plenty of ‘wow’ moments.  It also has options for very short and easy walks, through to more arduous exercise.

Google map icon key

*** Note: if using this map for navigation on your phone or GPS device, you will need to open it within Google Maps to get your current position showing on the map.  To do this, simply click the expand icon in the top right corner of this map.  This will now provide you live GPS tracking as you walk the map so you always know exactly where you are!  WOW!

Awaruku Bush Reserve and Glenvar Glade Elevation
Awaruku Bush Reserve and Glenvar Glade Elevation

The Google Map and Elevation Chart used in this Post have been produced using the Tom Tom Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch. This watch tracks running, cycling, swimming and freestyle, and includes built in heart-rate monitor – and I love it!  Check out the Tom Tom Cardio Watch or check out a wider range of GPS watches and Fitness Trackers.  Enjoy – they add another dimension to exercise.


I'm a family man who loves to enjoy the outdoors with my wife and 4 kids. I have spent years walking and running some of the wonderful tracks around Auckland and New Zealand .This website has been put together to help others enjoy the amazing array of walks we have in the Auckland Region. Further, we wish to honour the track-building work of my father-in-law, Hugh Willis who has spent thousands of hours since 1969 preserving, building and maintaining tracks on Auckland's North Shore.

8 Comments on “Awaruku Bush Reserve: Waterfall and Glow Worms in Auckland!

  1. It’d be nice if you’d tell us something about the waterfall, even show a photo (esp not the blurred time exposure type which doesn’t show the beautiful fragmenting water detail –let’s have an action shot).

    Does this waterfall only flow after rain has fallen, or is there a stream which flows all the time?

  2. I walked through the Awaruku today and just loved how beautiful it is and the Tui were singing . A slice of paradise in the suburbs so I hope it will forever remain that way ?

    • Hi Joanne and thanks for the question – sorry for the late response, somehow I missed your comment.
      To access the glow-worms, use our the Google Map for Awaruku Bush Reserve and look for the yellow marker point that indicates the waterfall. This is where the glow-worms are. I can not confirm if they are there every night but would think they are. Enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *