Five easy day trips around Auckland

From rainforests and marine reserves to vineyards and volcanoes, check out our five picks for perfect day trips in the Auckland region.

  • Author

    Discover Auckland
  • Last updated

    Jun 2024
  • Time to read

    5 mins
If you want to create some magical holiday memories, why not take yourself to Auckland? This scenic seaside city is bursting with easy day trips, all within an hour of the city centre. To help you make the most of your visit to this vibrant metropolis, we’ve rounded up five of the best Auckland adventures, with something to suit every taste and budget.

1. Laid-back luxury on Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is a heavenly sanctuary of relaxation in the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana. Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to vineyards and boutique accommodation, glorious sandy beaches and crystal blue waters – it’s the very epitome of laid-back luxury. 

Just 40 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland, with boats running all day from morning till late, once you arrive you can be as chilled or as busy as you please. Hire an e-bike and follow your nose from bay to bay. Or jump aboard the Hop-On Hop-Off bus with Fullers360 and stop wherever you fancy. 

How about booking an EcoZip trip, a magical zipline adventure where you’ll fly through spectacular native forest? If you’re more of a winery person, you could join a tasting tour. Or simply step out on one of Waiheke’s many short walks then enjoy a dip in the tranquil sea. One thing is certain: You’ll have a memorable time, because Lonely Planet wasn’t exaggerating when they described Waiheke as ‘the playground of the gods’. 

2. Ocean adventures at Goat Island Marine Reserve

Just 80km north of central Auckland, Goat Island Marine Reserve is a world-class ocean experience, featuring 518ha of marine sanctuary where the waters teem with life. Visitors who like to stay dry can book a glass bottom boat tour, while the more adventurous can hire a Clearyak. These marvellous double canoes are made of clear Perspex and are a unique way to search for sea creatures. If you don't have your own mask, snorkel and fins, gear can be hired from Goat Island Dive and Snorkel, who also run guided snorkel tours for every experience level, from beginners to pros. 

The architecturally designed Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre is an absolute must-do, and is filled with inspiring displays and hands-on exhibits perfect for aspiring scientists, while Goat Island’s Coastal Walkway is a scenic 3km leg stretcher. Make sure you pack a picnic, as there are no cafes or shops at Goat Island, but never fear – nearby Leigh and Matakana will see you right with your appetite.

3. Rainforests and waterfalls in west Auckland

If you want to feel truly invigorated while on holiday, be sure to pay a visit to west Auckland. From the rainforests of Waitākere Ranges Regional Park to the black sand beaches of Piha, Te Henga (Bethells) and Muriwai, this unspoiled wonderland is a big hit with visitors. 

You’ll also find walking tracks galore – be sure to check online before you go to see which tracks are open. From short skips to day trips, some wind their way through ancient kauri forests, while others lead to mystical waterfalls – perfect for a relaxing dip on a hot day. Stroll along majestic windswept beaches, take a surf lesson or book a horse ride and canter along deserted dunes.

When you experience the grandeur of this magnificent coastline, it’ll come as no surprise that films and music videos are regularly shot here, including Academy Award winner The Piano and Taylor Swift’s Out of the Woods. Whether you rent a car and explore independently, or sign up for one of the excellent tours offered by Bush and Beach, this neck of the woods is a balm for the soul. 

Head to Auckland Council’s changes to services and facilities webpage for information about visiting the area, including walking track and road closures, cordons and active slips, as the community and surrounding areas continue to recover from the significant weather events of early 2023.

4. Seaside charm in Devonport


If quaint little villages are your cup of tea, you simply have to head to Devonport, a seaside settlement on Auckland’s North Shore where art galleries and second-hand bookshops rub shoulders with boutiques and eateries. It’s just a 10-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, and once here you can sit by the picturesque foreshore with its safe swimming beach and playground, or settle in at one of the many cafes. 

Wear (or pack) your most comfortable shoes so you can take a leisurely stroll to the delightful Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, hike up Mt Victoria or explore relics from New Zealand’s military history among the tunnels on Maungauika / North Head – the harbour views from up on high are exquisite. From the stunning coastal scenery to the lovingly renovated homes and the heritage shopping precinct, Devonport is a little darling.

5. Adventure on Rangitoto Island

Challenge yourself with Auckland Sea Kayaks’ Sunset Tour to Rangitoto Island. Setting off from St Heliers Bay, this breathtaking kayak adventure takes small groups across Waitematā Harbour to experience Auckland’s youngest and largest volcanic cone. It’ll take about an hour and a quarter to reach Rangitoto Island, depending on the breeze, and once you arrive you’ll be treated to an informative guided trek to the summit. As you trot up the scoria slopes, you’ll stop at various sites to learn about the island’s human history, as well as facts about flora, fauna and geology. 

Once you arrive at the top, marvel at some of the finest views in Auckland as the sun sets slowly behind the Waitākere Ranges. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes. When you’ve had your fill of gazing out at paradise, you can return to the water’s edge and refuel with a hearty healthy barbecue, before paddling back to the mainland as the twinkling lights of the city guide you home.

Written by Discover Auckland

Last updated 14 Jun 2024

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