10 Best Day Trips From Auckland
Friday, March 8th, 2019Read about '10 Best Day Trips From Auckland' on USAVE, the place for all things car rental.
Heading out of the city for a day can be a great way to change the pace a little and recharge the batteries. Being centrally located, Auckland is one of the best places to discover exciting new destinations within easy driving distance without the need for costly overnight stays. Need a quick rundown on the best day trips from Auckland? Take a look below for our top 10 picks.
1. Hunua Ranges
The Hunua Ranges are just an hour’s drive from Auckland but offer a good day’s worth of activities and adventure. Enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and bird watching – just to name a few.
The reserve covers a whopping 250 square kilometres and is largely native forest, freshwater streams, wild grassy areas, and it is home to some of New Zealand’s famous Kauri trees. See distant panoramic views eastward towards the Coromandel Ranges, and northwards out over the Hauraki Gulf.
The Hunua Ranges Regional Park is also home to some of New Zealand’s best native bird species including Kokako, Kiwi, Kaka, Bellbirds, Tui and Kereru. Visitors are able to explore a network of tracks and trails each with its own highlights. Don’t miss the famous Hunua Falls and grab a pic through the giant picture frame. See here for more information on walking, mountain biking etc in the Hunua Ranges.
- The Hunua Falls are just 2 minutes walk from the Falls Road Car Park.
- The gate entrance is only open from 6 am to 9 pm.
- There are no public transport options to get you out to Hunua Falls Regional Park.
Nestled in amongst a couple of rugged west coast rocky outcrops, Piha Beach is an idyllic spot for a beach side day trip. Complete with a quaint little seaside village and windswept black sandy beach Piha is what New Zealand beaches are all about.
Piha is great for surfing most days with good swells and breaks, however swimming can be a bit treacherous, the beach has regular surf patrols and the option to ‘swim between the flags’ which is strongly advised if choosing to swim here.Climb up the steps to the lookout point on Lion Rock in the middle of the beach and you won’t be disappointed – the views back over the beach and inlet are quite beautiful! Do take care on the way down though as the steps can be slippery.
The nearby Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is great if you are looking to add in a bit of nature walking to the day, the Park has various trails, including those that take you out to the Kitekite Falls (roughly a 45 minute walk) and Fairy Falls (one of the most popular waterfalls in Auckland).
- Piha is located roughly 50 minutes to the northwest of Auckland city.
- The drive to Piha Beach is narrow and windy at times, car is needed when driving.
- There is a private shuttle bus service to Piha which does regular runs throughout the day.
Only around an hour and a half from Auckland, Mangawhai is well worth the trip. Its beautiful beach, wide range of activities, unique artistic flair and boutique cafes and foods offer up a little something for everyone making it our number one pick when day tripping from Auckland.
Take some time to explore the sprawling township, and seek out your new favourite café or get in a round of golf at the Mangawhai Golf Club, take a stroll through the museum, or check out the local markets for locally sourced products, art and foods. Try your hand at sand boarding, windsurfing or kayaking … the list goes on and on.
If it’s the beach you have come for – you won’t be disappointed! Head on out to the Mangawhai Heads for some great swimming and surfing, the beach is family friendly and patrolled by surf lifeguards in the summer months. Fishing and shellfish gathering are also popular pastimes at Mangawhai Heads.
- Mangawhai is officially located in the Northland region, just outside of the Auckland regional limits.
- There are two great camping grounds located at Mangawhai with tent sites, caravan spaces and cabins.
- Don’t miss the Mangawhai cliff top walk for one of NZ’s best coastal tracks.
4. Waiheke Island
A day trip to Waiheke is pretty much a must do when visiting Auckland. The local ferry services will get you there in a timely fashion (about 40 minutes) and you can even take your car with you! Sealink are the people to see for ‘drive on drive off’ services or if you are planning to hire a vehicle when you are over there – check out the local services for e-bike hire, scooters more.
With world class vineyards, beautiful beaches, stunning cafes and restaurants and scenic coastal walks – where do you start? Well to take it all in you would have to stick around for more than a day so here are our top spots for a day trip to Waiheke.
Onetangi Bay is our pic of the beaches for the traditional NZ-white-sand feel, seek out the Nikau Track in the Whakanewha Regional Park for a relaxing bush walk, and while all of the Waiheke Wineries are just amazing if you had to pick one try out the Mudbrick Vineyard. Located on the western end of the island, Mudbrick has two amazing restaurants, onsite accommodation, wine tastings, and vineyard tours.
- The Ferry to Waiheke Island takes around 40 minutes.
- You can take your car across to Waiheke Island on the Sealink Ferry.
- See here for more information on things to do and see on Waiheke Island.
5. Mount Maunganui
Probably the top destination day trip for many Aucklanders, Mount Maunganui is the perfect beachside playground for those escaping the city. The amazing postcard perfect beach, beautiful waves, stunning views and laid back vibe makes for a day trip to remember.
Shop till you drop at the many boutique shops along the main street, grab a meal at the trendy restaurants and cafes, or just grab the sunscreen and hit the beach for the day. Mount Maunganui beach is great for swimming and surfing, sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are also excellent choices.
Don’t make the mistake of looking up at ‘the Mount’ and think “nah can’t make it up there”, it really is worth the effort. Or if you just can’t bring yourself to break a sweat, opt for the Base Walk which will take you around the bottom – ocean waves crashing on the nearby rocks as you go.
- The main beach at Mount Maunganui is 2 hours 45 minutes’ drive from Auckland.
- The walk around the base of the Mount takes around 45 minutes at a slow pace.
- Copenhagen Cones is a great place for a well-deserved ice cream after tackling the climb up the Mount.
6. Duder Regional Park
Have younger children in the car or just don’t want to spend all day driving? This fantastic day trip with a little less travel time is exactly what you need. The Duder Regional Park is a large farm park situated beside the sea on the East Coast, just an hour’s drive from the city.
Along with the expected farm animals like sheep and cattle you will find a good number of walks allowing you to explore the area on foot. Amazing views out over the Hauraki Gulf are a given, and don’t miss exploring the foundations of an old Maori settlement as you go.
In addition to the farmland you can explore native New Zealand bush including the majestic Kauri trees and even keep a look out for several rare bird species. Got the kids in tow? Take on the Duder Park orienteering challenge – check out the noticeboard for more info.
- The Duder Regional Park is great for mountain biking, walking, swimming and fishing.
- Check out the Duder Regional Park map here.
- Dogs are not allowed in the Park.
7. Matakana And The Tawharanui Peninsula
The trip to Matakana takes around 50 minutes with an additional 20 minutes’ drive required to head on out to the Tāwharanui Regional Park at the tip of the Tawharanui Peninsula. Matakana is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, with a sprinkling of cafes, shops and even a Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Known for its beautiful beaches, the Tawharanui Peninsula is home to the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society and its wetland restoration project, a campground and a marine reserve that encompasses much of the northern coastline.
Diving is popular due to the Marine Reserve as well as the many walks around the reserve. Check out the Auckland Council Tawharanui Peninsula map here.
- Matakana and the Tawharanui Peninsula are located North of Auckland after crossing the Auckland Harbour Bridge and heading up the East Coast.
- The gates to the Tāwharanui Regional Park are open from 6 am to 9 pm during summer and until 7 pm during winter.
- The main beach is Anchor Bay, just a few minutes’ walk from the end of Takatu Road.
8. The Awhitu Peninsula And Ambury Regional Park
One for all wilderness enthusiasts, the Awhitu Peninsula marks the entrance to the Manukau Harbour. Explore the small parkland pastures and wetlands of the Awhitu Regional Park, and enjoy the safe, sandy beaches and sheltered picnic areas in this remote and rugged location
Take a drive out to the Manukau Heads Lighthouse and visit one of the few accessible lighthouses in New Zealand, take in the spectacular views and keep an eye out for rare wildlife along the way.
On your return trip stop by the Ambury Regional Park just past the Mangere Domain and introduce yourself to the wide range of farm animals including sheep, goats, chickens, and rabbits. This working farm and education centre is a great place for a picnic lunch and perfect for an afternoon stroll along the coast.
- Awhitu Peninsula is roughly an hour and a half from Auckland, the lighthouse is another 15 minutes further along.
- The Ambury Regional Park is located just 15km from Auckland Central at 43 Ambury Road, Mangere Bridge, Auckland.
- The Ambury Regional Park is open 24 /7 to those on foot, vehicle entry is restricted.
Hamilton’s best kept secret, Raglan is a small seaside village set approximately 40 minutes west of the city. This coastal town and rugged beach provides an excellent draw card for surfers, swimmers and beach goers of all ages.
Enjoy a walk along the beach or one of the nearby walking tracks in the area including the Bridal Veil Falls track. Pirongia Forest Park is a good one for hiking and tramping. Mountain biking, kayaking, caving and rock climbing are also popular activities in Raglan.
Don’t miss checking out the local arts and crafts in the village, there are some unique and colourful shops and cafes to explore. Raglan also has plenty of accommodation options if you feel like turning your day trip into an overnighter.
- Raglan is 2 hours’ drive south of Auckland.
- The Raglan Surfing School are the people to see for surfing lessons at Raglan.
- The road out to Raglan from Hamilton is quite windy and narrow in places, drive with care.
10. Coromandel Peninsula
Probably one of the favourites for many Aucklanders, the Coromandel Peninsula is an outdoor enthusiast’s ultimate playground. The drive around the peninsula itself is all part of the journey and is one of New Zealand’s most scenic routes.
Take in the beautiful coastal vistas of The Firth of Thames bay on one side and the substantial greenery of the Coromandel Forest Park on the other and just soak up the quiet peacefulness of it all as you go. Don’t miss the Driving Creek Railway and take a spin on New Zealand’s steepest railway. Or just plan for plenty of stops to go mountain biking, kayaking and walking!
Don’t miss Hot Water Beach, approximately 30 kms South of Whitianga – the area’s second largest township. Take a spade (or hire one from the nearby shop) and dig yourself your very own private spa pool in the sandy beach and see it fill with warm sea water. Visiting Hot Water Beach is best done 2 hours either side of low tide.
- The Coromandel Peninsula is around 2.5 hours from Auckland.
- Taking highway 25, from the turnoff just after Maramarua, the drive all the way around the Peninsula and back will take 2.5 hrs.
- Whitianga and Thames are the only towns in the area, there are some small cafes and other business dotted throughout the area.