Auckland day trip: the Manukau Heads Lighthouse

Insider's guide

One sunny Sunday, I got the chance to discover one of Auckland’s true hidden gems, right at the tip of the breathtaking Awhitu Peninsula.

If you want to escape the city for a relaxing day out without having to drive for hours, then bump Manukau Heads to the top of your ‘must visit’ list. For a place with such rich history, character and natural beauty, it’s surprisingly still unknown to many Aucklanders.

The views as you drive along Awhitu Peninsula are truly magnificent, with the Manukau Heads Lighthouse sitting proudly at the very tip. This lighthouse is particularly special as it’s one of only a few in New Zealand you can actually climb to the top of.

Inside, we take a look at the pieces of artwork and wall displays telling the story of the HMS Orpheus, which ran aground in 1863 as it approached Manukau Harbour, tragically killing 189 people. From the balcony at the top, we are welcomed by beautiful views of the harbour. The sea is calm and it’s hard to believe that New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster happened on a peaceful day like this. If you look south on a fine day you can see for miles across the Tasman Sea. Directly across from the lighthouse looking north are the stunning Waitakere Ranges and the last stretch of Whatipu Beach.

The gates to the lighthouse are open from 9am to 5pm daily and while there’s no set charge, a donation is greatly appreciated to ensure the lighthouse is around for many years to come.

Awhitu Peninsula is a stunning spot for a short day trip, and we returned to the big smoke vowing to be back soon – this time with the camera!

​By Julia, Media Advisor, Tourism New Zealand