Vast panoramas and sweeping coastlines - the journey is as good as the destination.

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Top of the list is a trip to the historical Manukau Heads Lighthouse, jutting out from the tip of the peninsula. The lighthouse is one of only a few in New Zealand that are open to the public and the views are amazing. The wind and salt spray will clear out the cobwebs too.

Explore the tranquil bays and rolling pastures of Awhitu Regional Park on one of the short walks and mountain bike trails, or relax with a swim and a picnic at one of the safe, white-sand beaches. On the western side, the expansive and more rugged black-sand beach of Karioitahi is an awesome spot for activities on and off the water, including hang gliding, paragliding, blo-karting, surfing, 4 wheel driving and more.

Time to slow down the pace. Sip on wine at a boutique cliff-top vineyard with spectacular harbour views, or browse the bustling Awhitu Country Markets, held on the last Sunday of every month. Pick up fresh organic produce, oils and preserves, plus arts and health and beauty products.

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