The fabrication of arrayed waveguide gratings (AWGs) using the femtosecond laser direct-write technique is investigated. We successfully demonstrate the fabrication of large planar waveguides that act as 2D free propagation zones. These slabs were found to have a highly uniform refractive index with a standard deviation of 1.97% relative to the total index contrast. The incorporation of low loss linear adiabatic tapers resulted in an increase of transmission by 90%. Strategies for manufacturing integrated laser written AWGs using continuous contouring to avoid lossy defects are discussed and demonstrated.