My best choice was Lonely Planet New Zealand. If you're travelling by yourself you will be hard-pressed to find a more practical guidebook. All the important information such as prices, addresses, telephone numbers and opening times, even lots of city maps with marked shopping facilities, internet cafes, accommodations, restaurants, visitor centres and sights are included. The descriptions are witty and precise. The book is quite big but you don't need any other guidebook. If you're keen on hiking Lonely Planet Tramping in New Zealand is also good.
The New Zealand Road Atlas by Hema Maps helped us pretty well to find our way through New Zealand. The maps are clear and well arranged. Campgrounds with and without dump stations, DOC campsites, routes for 4 wheelers, scenic routes, attractions and activities are marked by pictograms. You can leaf through the A4 format and you don't have to fold the maps – that's what I really love about it ;-) We bought the Road Atlas for NZ$29 at Auckland Airport.
As we just went for day walks and hikes, the DOC maps turned out to be absolutely adequate. They also contain helpful hints like hiking times, sidewalks, weather conditions, equipment and clothing tips. You can buy them from the i-SITEs from $1.
Bob Harvey, Mayor of Waitakere City, Auckland, has researched the history of Karekare and describes the place with the abandon of a man who loves his homeland:
Karekare Beach is not for those who prefer safe landscapes. There’s an over-powering sense of place here. The moment you arrive, you know this is a special place. At the carpark, you can hear the booming surf. It comes at you like rolling thunder, echoing off the valley walls and pushing into your ears.
The great, gnarled face of the Watchman keens the sound and sends it hurling towards you as you jump the creek before heading towards the beach. Do this at night, and the beach amplifies pure sound, picking up bass chords from the collision of waves against Paratahi Island and sampling the shoreline surf action on the way in.
The book is illustrated throughout with Karekare photos and paintings by the locals and other artists. Exisle Publishing, ISBN 978-0-908988-17-4