Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘the World is your oyster’? Well, this certainly applies to the vast range of experiences in and around Auckland when you visit New Zealand! There are multiple ways to escape the city, into rewarding wilderness, wineries, gardens or art galleries. Making the selection on how to spend your time in Auckland will be the hard bit but, we are here to help.
The first question to ask yourself is do you want to take the day as it comes with a self-guided experience or enlist one of our fantastic local friends for a guided day tour?
If a self-guided day trip is what you are looking for, we have some superb suggestions for you! We would recommend heading north to the art and wine culture of Kumar or Matakana, then head west to the black sand beaches of Piha and Muriwai - not complete without visiting the Arataki Visitor Centre and the Muriwai Gannet Colony. Matakana, a favourite getaway for locals and visitors alike, is riddled with beautiful beaches and a buzzing foodie scene.
If you’re there on a weekend, be sure to check out the Matakana Farmer’s Market on a Saturday to sample some of the region's finest produce and artisan goods! Award winning wines, artisan cheeses and homemade spreads are just some of the delicious products on offer. Otherwise, catch a short Fullers Ferry from the city to discover the charming village of Devonport, take a walk to the volcanic crater on Rangitoto Island, or visit the vast local artisan character of popular Waiheke Island.
Rangitoto is Auckland’s youngest and largest dormant volcanic cones and is home to the country’s largest pohutukawa forest. There is a summit track that you can walk, taking approximately 1 hour up a 4WD track; from the top, the views are absolutely spectacular!
Despite only being a short, 45 minute ferry ride from the Auckland CBD, Waiheke island feels like a world away from the busy hub. It is famed for its beautiful landscapes, hidden beaches and internationally celebrated wineries. If you are looking to stretch your legs after a long-haul journey, heading to Waiheke and pairing that with some delicious dining options is a perfect way to get it done.
The island’s many walking tracks take you along cliff tops down to beaches, and through native bush. You truly will be in disbelief that less than an hour before you were in the country’s biggest city. Once you reach Waiheke Island, it is surprisingly spread out, so join a guided day tour to experience the far reaches of wineries with our local guide friends. If you are interested in taking a winery experience of New Zealand.
Back on the mainland, if you are wanting to explore the outer reaches of Auckland, we highly recommend joining a guided day tour to simply sit back and enjoy the scenery. Please note that the driving can become weary due to narrow and windy roads, but they will get you off the beaten track!
Opting for a guided tour and experiencing Auckland through local eyes is also VERY rewarding. It provides you a deep and rich perspective into the unique history and culture. Why read a guide book when you can hear personal, real-life encounters?
Some of our personal favourite day tours are:
Best of Both Worlds - Perfect for those short on time, this tour covers Auckland City, Waitakere Ranges, Arataki Visitor Centre and the rugged West Coast including Piha Beach. Your morning is spent learning about the history and culture of the ‘City of Sails’ and truly getting a feel for how Aucklanders live and play. You’ll spend some time at some of the city’s most iconic landmarks: The Auckland Domain, Mount Victoria and Westhaven marina.
After lunch you will make your way to the Waitakere Ranges, just a short 30 minute drive from the city, where you will find yourself immersed in native rainforest. At Piha Beach you’ll get to walk along this beautifully rugged black-sand beach, getting a sense of the wildness of this side of New Zealand. All in all, a perfect day spent exploring the country’s biggest city and all its different attributes.
Coromandel Day tour - Get off the beaten track to discover the Coromandel Peninsula’s wilderness, hugged between beautiful beaches and winding coastline. Some of the highlights of this day tour include visiting the famous Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove while also spending some time at the Driving Creek Railway and the town of Thames. This lovely train makes its way along rugged landscape and forest until you reach the summit, where you will be rewarded with stunning views across the forest and harbour.
At Hot Water Beach, you will be able to dig your own hot tub whilst having waves from the sea lap up along the shore. Did you know that it is one of the only places in the world where naturally geothermally heated water bubbles up onto a beach? It is one of the many unique experiences that make visiting this part of the country so memorable. This small group tour travels in comfort and style in Mercedes Sprinter vans.
Hobbiton and Waitomo tour - Looking for what makes New Zealand and the North Island so unique? It does not get any more unique than the combination of the Hobbiton Movie Set from the Lord of the Rings and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Even for the most amateur Lord of the Rings fans, Hobbiton is otherworldly.
This fully guided tour immerses you in The Shire and culminates with a drink from the Green Dragon Inn followed by a tasty feast of a lunch under the Party Marquee. In the afternoon you will make your way to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves where you will learn about the fascinating limestone formations, stalactites and stalagmites. These organisms are unique to the southern hemisphere and will leave you mesmerised.
As the saying goes, ‘the World is your oyster’ for day trips from Auckland. We can help find you the perfect experience for your time here and in the other exciting New Zealand destinations you will be exploring!
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Written by: Emma Manning