Whatipu is located at the southern end of the Waitakere Ranges.

Whatipu is considered one of the richest areas of Maori prehistoric artifacts in New Zealand. The area is now classified as a Scientific Reserve owned by the Department of Conservation and managed on behalf by the Auckland Regional Council. It is a spectacular area of coastal dunes and wetlands.

Once known for its wide variety of fish, shellfish and shark, Whatipu was used as a Maori seasonal fishing settlement. Tribes migrated from the Taranaki region to Whatipu around AD1200, where, on a clear day, they were still able to see Mt Taranaki. Hence, they named the main bay at Whatipu, Taranaki Bay.