Ambury is a working farm, so it’s popular with families keen to get up close to the animals – kids can even feed the lambs in spring. Afterwards, take the short Lost Gardens Walk to see remnants of early Māori stone mounds once used for gardening.
An hour’s drive from the city centre, Awhitu makes a great day trip, with two tranquil white-sand beaches, sheltered picnic and barbecue spots, and a number of walking, mountain biking and horse riding tracks. You can even take a swing at the 9-hole Awhitu Golf Club.
Add this to your itinerary if you’re taking a day trip to Clevedon or Whitford in Auckland’s east. The park has several beaches with safe swimming and a number of walks and mountain biking tracks with superb coastal views. It’s a popular spot for fishing too, or set up at one of the scenic picnic spots.
The largest native forest in the Auckland region, Hunua is home to thriving native wildlife, beautiful waterfalls and more than 450 species of plants. Choose one of the many walks, ranging from easy to challenging, and don’t miss the Hunua Falls.
Get out on the water for snorkelling, kayaking or swimming, then chill out in the shade with a picnic, throw a ball around, or book a barbecue site if you’ve got a big group (book in early in summer). The playground’s an added bonus, complete with flying fox.
As well as Shakespear’s sheltered family-friendly beaches, it’s a great spot for fishing, kayaking and boating, and the walking tracks reward you with some amazing views. The park is an open sanctuary for threatened native wildlife, so it’s also one of the region’s best spots for bird watching.
Tapapakanga is a working coastal farm as well as a regional park, particularly popular with walkers, birdwatchers and kayakers. Kayakers: stay at the campground and explore the coastline at leisure; walkers: take the Historic Loop Track past the Māori pä site and historic stone fields.
Tāwharanui is one of the best places to see New Zealand’s famed natural beauty. Do as much or as little as you like – swimming, surfing, snorkelling and diving at Anchor Bay, a stroll on the soft white sand, mountain biking or walking. Maybe a holiday at the campground?
Waitawa’s walking and mountain biking tracks take you through native bush, pasture land and some steep hills if you’re keen to get a bit of exercise. Sitting on the south-east coast, the park’s three peninsulas afford beautiful sea views, plus a number of heritage and cultural sites and a campsite for kayakers paddling Te Ara Moana, the sea-going pathway.
With more than 10,000 plants from around the world, you’ll see something different every season, from spring’s magnificent magnolia blossoms to autumn’s golden leaves. Explore different themed spaces, discover the modern sculptures, have a picnic by the lake, or lunch at the onsite café.
Close to the city centre, Cornwall Park is easy to incorporate into a day of exploring. Walk up One Tree Hill – Maungakiekie, one of Auckland’s 48 volcanic cones and a significant cultural and historical site. Perfect for a walk and a picnic (the cherry trees in spring and golden leaves in autumn are both beautiful), or stop in for lunch at the café.
Take a stroll through Auckland’s oldest park, built on an extinct volcanic crater, with views over the harbour. Feed the ducks, wander one of the numerous walking tracks, set up a picnic under a huge tree, visit the spectacular Auckland Museum, and see the exotic plants and flowers in the indoor Wintergardens.
A short drive or scenic walk along the waterfront from downtown Auckland, this park is the spot for gorgeous views across the harbour and out into the Hauraki Gulf. The beautifully manicured gardens and memorial are a tribute to Michael Joseph Savage, New Zealand’s first Labour Prime Minister.
Bordering both the Auckland Zoo and the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT), two top family attractions, this is the perfect place for a walk or a picnic afterwards – playground included. Kids (and adults) love seeing the swans and ducks on the lake and roaming around the open lawns too.