Awhitu Peninsula and Manukau Heads Lighthouse
The Awhitu Peninsula is well worth a visit for its beautiful scenery and dramatic views. Drive out to the tip of the peninsula for an impressive panoramic vista from the top of the Manukau Heads Lighthouse, one of only a few in New Zealand that’s open to the public. Take one of the nature walks through Awhitu Regional Park and visit Awhitu Wines, the West Coast Jade Gallery or the Pollok Co-op Art Gallery on the way back. Find out more.
Fourforty Mountain Bike Park
Hit the trails at the expansive, gravity fuelled Fourforty Mountain Bike Park near the Hunua Ranges, catering for beginner to expert riders. Bring your own ride or hire equipment onsite. Check for open dates this season. At 440 metres in vertical height, it’s the premium destination for gravity mountain biking in the upper north island.
Glenbrook Vintage Railway
Take the kids for a ride on the Glenbrook Vintage Railway, a 15km trip through the countryside to the historic town of Waiuku aboard a restored steam train. Book an upgrade for the First Class Parlour Car, with a covered outdoor platform for the best views and plush seats inside. While you’re in the area, visit the Glenbrook Model Railway nearby, one of the largest model railways open to the public in New Zealand.
The Franklin area is a superb area for golf lovers, with a number of courses across Auckland’s south and east:
Spookers scream park
Step into Spookers, Australasia’s only haunted attraction scream park (yes, you read that right). Scream your way through the haunted house, freaky forest and corn maze, among ghosts, ghouls, monsters and the odd chainsaw wielding madman. Some attractions are R16 but several cater for younger ones, with less gore and just the right amount of scare.
New Zealand Warbirds Visitor Centre
The New Zealand Warbirds Visitor Centre at Ardmore Airport has an impressive collection of restored classic planes once used in service and now fully operational once again. The collection includes the Mustang, Beaver, Chipmunk, Harvard, CT4 and A4 Skyhawk.
For an adventure with amazing wildlife and nature views, you can’t beat kayaking the waterways of the Franklin region. Find out more at StressFree Adventures, Franklin Country and Franklin Eco Adventures.
Whitewater rafting experience
Feel the rush at the Vector Wero Whitewater Park, with a choice of experiences for different ages and abilities, from gentle river rafting right through to big waves or the highest man-made waterfall in the world.
See the glow worms at Nikau Cave & Café
Nikau Cave is one of the most beautiful glow worm caves in New Zealand, with thousands of glow worms and amazing formations. The guided tour is a safe and fun way to explore and is about 1 ½ hours. This is a great pick if you’re travelling with children.
Castaways Resort – dining, accommodation and adventures
Treat yourself to an indulgent escape at Castaways Resort, sitting on the clifftops at Karioitahi Beach on Auckland’s west coast, just 10 mins from Waiuku. Dine in style day or night at Agave restaurant relax at the day spa, stay in one of the luxurious studios or chalets or go glam camping under the stars. Adventures at Castaways Resort offers 4WD tours, blo-karting, archery and clay-bird shooting.
Drive the Clevedon Arts Trail
Explore the Clevedon Arts Trail, a self-drive taking in local art, galleries and workshops, including Art Industry and Woodzone (perfect for gifts or something unique to take home). Relax over lunch at Clevedon Village and spend the afternoon creating your own craft at Forgotten Arts – make sure you book your workshop in advance – and check out contemporary pieces at Katie Blundell's studio next door.
Visit some of the boutique wineries in the region and sample fine, locally crafted wines and a relaxing vineyard lunch.
East coast regional parks
- Omana Regional Park is ideal for a family day out with a safe swimming beach, rock pools to explore, farm animals to feed, a playground, and picnic and barbecue sites.
- Duder Regional Park is set on a unique landscape, a thin peninsula where you can walk along the ridge looking out to the Hauraki Gulf from both sides – it almost feels as if you’re on your own island.
- Waitawa Regional Park has only been open to the public for two years, and has beautiful coastal walks and views out to some of the Hauraki Gulf islands. There’s also a sheltered beach for relaxing, swimming and kayaking.
- Tapapakanga Regional Park is a coastal farm park with rich Māori and European history, including an accessible pohutukawa-fringed beach. Take the Historic Loop Track past the Māori pä site and historic stone fields.
Visit Maraetai Beach for its golden sands and calm waters, with views out to Waiheke Island. Maraetai is perfect for a relaxed day at the beach, or an evening walk after fish and chips.
Find more things to do and places to visit in Auckland.
Check out the Pohutukawa Coast driving map and itinerary for ideas.