Hop aboard the ferry at downtown Auckland and in just 12 minutes you’re here.
Exploring the underground tunnels, gun emplacements and fortifications at North Head is a must. The volcanic cone offers incredible 360-degree views over the Hauraki Gulf and across to the city – you can even take a segway tour to the top.
Take a wander through the local art galleries and see how the surrounding landscapes have inspired beautiful paintings and photographs (great if you’re looking for something special to take home). Browse boutique shops for unique, quality clothing and jewellery, then relax at one of Devonport’s casual-cool cafés and restaurants. Pop into the chocolaterie for handmade chocolates and truffles. There’s also a beautifully restored Victorian cinema if you fancy a flick.
And when it comes to beaches, gorgeous Cheltenham Beach is a winner. Slip off your shoes and take a stroll or a dip – the sheltered waters are perfect for families.
The unofficial ‘capital’ of Auckland’s North Shore.
Choose from a huge range of cafés and restaurants day or night, or go Kiwi with fresh fish and chips on the beach. If you’d rather somewhere more secluded, find a quiet spot on the shores of Lake Pupuke for a picnic – it’s just a few minutes’ walk away. The lake is actually a volcanic crater and a favourite spot for rowing, sailing and canoeing.
Take a look at the shops and boutiques along Hurstmere Road or shop for fashion, books, footwear and beauty products in the 70+ stores in the mall. If you’re there on a Sunday, visit the lively market to find anything from fresh fruit and vegetables to crafts, furniture and antiques.
Make sure you check out Takapuna’s white-sand beach for family-friendly swimming and an awesome playground (more picnic spots here too). Afterwards, stretch your legs on the heritage trail from Takapuna to Milford along the water’s edge.
Albany and Long Bay
Bring your wallet and go on a shopping spree at Albany’s expansive mall, with a huge range of stores from home décor and electronics to clothing, footwear and toys. Refuel at one of the cafés and restaurants lining the courtyard outside, or catch a flick at the cinema complex.
If the timing’s right, visit North Harbour Stadium and catch a game of rugby, rugby league or soccer. The arena is home to North Harbour rugby and hosts the occasional Vodafone Warriors match too.
Long Bay Regional Park, a 10-minute drive from Albany, and only 20km from the city, offers a sheltered beach on one side and parkland on the other – pop in for a swim and a stroll or bring the family and a picnic and get settled in.
In Birkenhead, there are sea views from every street so climb high and reap the rewards. Sitting 360 feet above sea level, these views stretch across the Waitemata Harbour and all the way to Rangitoto Island. Closer to the water, explore the grounds around the Chelsea Sugar Refinery, part of Auckland’s Victorian history (built in 1884, it once employed nearly all of the village’s population in Devonport, Birkenhead and Takapuna).
Birkenhead’s café scene has really taken off too, with a number spread throughout the village centre, as well as the cluster of stylish new cafés down towards the wharf.
Some of these areas have unpatrolled beaches. Stay safe – never swim or surf alone. Find patrolled beaches and information about water safety.