With stunning views of Rangitoto Island and the Waitemata Harbour, Takapuna has the perfect vibe for a laid-back beachside brunch or afternoon activities on the beach. Try stand-up paddle boarding, take a dip, relax in a café, or hit the shops for stylish clothing and homewares.
Hop on a ferry to the seaside village of Devonport to wander through the art galleries or shop for unique quality clothing and jewellery. Take a scenic walk to the top of Mt Victoria or North Head, two of Auckland’s volcanic cones, for 360-degree views out into the Hauraki Gulf and back the city.
The crystal clear water at Goat Island Marine Reserve makes it the perfect spot for snorkelling and diving. Get up close to the colourful sealife and learn more about this special environment at the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre. If you prefer to stay dry, hop on the glass bottom boat or paddle in a clearyak (a clear kayak).
Stop off at Snowplanet, an indoor ski resort where you can go skiing, snowboarding or tobogganing any time of year – perfect for a family outing. If you’re looking for that summer feeling, drive to Orewa for water and beach activities followed by a café lunch across the road. Later, relax at Waiwera geothermal hot pools or have some fun on the hydroslides.
Start with delicious artisan foods from Matakana Village Farmers' Market (on every Saturday) then stroll through the village’s shops, visit the art and craft galleries, have coffee or lunch at a stylish café, or catch a movie at the gorgeous boutique cinemas – complete with chandeliers and gourmet ice cream. Afterwards, head to one of Matakana’s boutique vineyards for a wine tasting overlooking the vines, or combine art and wine at Brick Bay Sculpture Trail.
Drive north to Tāwharanui Regional Park to relax on idyllic white-sand beaches. Surf or swim at Omaha’s beach or try one of the many walks around the park, suitable for different levels of fitness. Make sure you bring a picnic as there are no shops nearby – there are plenty of insta-worthy spots along the way though. With no city lights or houses, Tāwharanui is a great area to star gaze if you’re staying longer.
Take a ride along the long white-sand beach at Pakiri – make it an hour, half a day or a full-day ride to really explore. If horse riding’s not your thing, bring your surfboard and catch a few waves, or take a stroll along the water’s edge and watch the horizon for whales and dolphins often spotted swimming in the area. The beach is unpatrolled so make sure you’re not surfing or swimming alone.
This quiet gem in the Hauraki Gulf is just a short ferry ride from Sandspit near Warkworth. Previously politician Sir George Grey’s private residence in the 1860s, you can now walk through the fully restored historical Mansion House and the surrounding gardens of exotic tropical plants and trees introduced after his travels. Kawau’s calm, clear waters are great for fishing, swimming or cruising the beautiful bays.
Explore Shakespear Regional Park at the tip of Whangaparaoa Peninsula for beautiful scenery, perfect picnic spots, scenic walks and sweeping views of the Hauraki Gulf. Further north you’ll find Wenderholm Regional Park – relax on the beach, picnic under a huge pohutukawa tree and explore the historic Cauldrey House. For something a bit different, hire a kayak from Puhoi and paddle your way up the river to Wenderholm.
North west of the city centre is superb food, wine, adventure and scenery. Priority is a wine tasting experience in one of Kumeu’s vineyards or a bite to eat at Riverhead's historic tavern or Hallertau Brewbar and Restaurant. Next, challenge yourself in Woodhill Forest with mountain biking, horse riding, or the rope courses and flying foxes at Tree Adventures. And if you just want to take it easy, head to Muriwai Beach to take in the beautiful clifftop views