Every weekend presents a chance for you to explore Auckland and its surrounds or, escape the city for a long weekend somewhere close by. Here are 10 places close to Auckland that we recommend visiting this weekend.
Don’t have a car to get you there? Fear not, Yourdrive has got your back with over 300 privately-owned vehicles available to rent all over Auckland. By renting from local residents, you'll find a wider range of better-value vehicles and more pick-up locations than traditional car rental companies. You'll also get travel tips and advice from a friendly local, and it’s better for the environment!
Just a 45km drive from central Auckland is Puhoi, one of New Zealand’s two ethnic historic villages (the other is Akaroa). Hire a kayak or canoe and paddle down the Puhoi River through native bush, farmland, and wetlands. Head to the Puhoi Pub at the end of the day for a glass of your favourite wine and a dish from the bistro menu.
If heading here for a whole weekend, don’t miss the Puhoi Village Market. It happens rain or shine on the last Sunday of every month.
If you’re super fit, pack your activewear and head 150km south of central Auckland to Thames.
If cycling is your style, pack your bike and explore the area via the Hauraki Rail Trail, a 173km section of the New Zealand Cycle Trail. Starting in Kaiaua, this trail is split into 5 manageable sections, passing through Thames, Paeroa, Waihi and Te Aroha, and taking you to Matamata. Find out more about the trail here.
If hiking is more your style, scale the Pinnacles and admire the stunning views from 750 meters above sea level. Walk there and back on the Webb Creek Track (6 - 7 hr 30 min) or complete a circuit using the Webb Creek Track and the Billygoat Track ( 8 - 9 hr 30 min). If you’re wanting to pace yourself, spread the walking over 2 days and stay the night with fellow hikers at the Pinnacles Hut.
Only 70km away from central Auckland, this small town is popular with Aucklanders over summer months. Spend the morning exploring the cafes and shops in the town center before heading 10 minutes down the road to Omaha beach for an afternoon on the golden sand. If you’re keen to check out some sea life, head 15 minutes out of Matakana to Goat Island Marine Reserve. With crystal clear waters this is a great spot for snorkeling or diving. If you’d rather admire the beauty from afar, take a ride on the glass bottom boat.
If visiting Matakana on a Saturday, you must check out the Farmers Market. This market is popular with locals and showcases the fresh produce and delicious food from the area.
Auckland is home to 1.5 million people and Muriwai is home to approximately 1,200 pairs of nesting gannets (between August and March). Hike the 1km long Muriwai Lookout Track through coastal bush to reach the epic lookout platform, the perfect place to watch the graceful Gannets come and go from. Pack a picnic and eat your lunch here with stunning views over Muriwai Beach or, come later in the evening to experience a stunning West Coast sunset.
200km drive from central Auckland is Waitomo, best known for its extensive underground cave system. Buy a boat ticket and explore the caves which are filled with stalagmites and stalactites and lit up by arachnocampa luminosa, better known as glow worms, unique to New Zealand. If you’re a thrill seeker, give black water rafting or abseiling a go!
The Coromandel Peninsula is full of picturesque spots. Don’t forget to pack your sneakers and your swimwear to experience all this area has to offer. You can’t not visit the iconic rock archway of Cathedral Cove. With water and foot access only, this spot is truly an untouched paradise. The 2.5km walking track hugs the coast, providing dramatic views of spectacular coastal scenery along the way. Another must-see spot is New Chum Beach which was included in The Observer's list of Top 20 best deserted beaches in 2006. This beach is also accessible only by water or foot, via a 1.5km walking track which takes you over the saddle and down into New Chums Beach through nīkau and pōhutukawa.
Read about more epic things to see, do, and eat on our Coromandel weekend getaway itinerary.
7. Awhitu Peninsular
100km drive from central Auckland, on the other side of the Manukau Harbor, is the Awhitu Peninsular. Head to the end of the peninsula, park your car and take a short walk to the Manukau Heads Lighthouse. The views of the rugged west coast and black sand beaches are incredible, as are those of the Auckland City skyline across the Manukau Harbour.
If you're out this way on on the last Sunday of the month, drop by the Awhitu Country Markets and pick up some fresh produce.
Hamilton is now New Zealand's 4th most popular city! Head here to explore this growing city and get a grip on why people love it. You can’t miss a trip to the Hamilton Gardens to explore 50 hectares of manicured gardens. Take a trip around the world as you check out the Paradise Collection with gardens inspired by Japan, India, Italy, China, and England. Stimulate your senses as you walk through the Productive Collection which features a herb garden and kitchen garden. After you’re done here, make your way along the Waikato River to Duck Island Ice Cream, one of NZ’s best ice-cream parlours, on the corner of Cook Street and Grey Street. You can’t go wrong with a classic flavor but, we’d recommend branching out try a scoop of one of their creative flavours.
150km south of Auckland central, Raglan the perfect place to escape to for a long weekend. This small town and its surrounds have loads to offer. Check out the surf shops in town or head out to the west coast to watch the surfers or get amongst the waves yourself. If you’re not a confident surfer, we’d recommend getting a lesson from a local before heading out.
20 minutes out of town is Bridal Veil Falls. It's an easy 10-minute walk through native forest to the top of the Falls, where from the viewing platform you get stunning views over the falls and surrounding countryside. From here you can walk a further 10 minute to the bottom of the falls. This section is steep and mostly stairs but the view across the pool and up at the falls from the bottom bridge will make the sweat well worth it!
Read about more epic things to see, do, and eat on our Raglan weekend getaway itinerary.
10. Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island feels a million miles from the city but, in reality, it’s just a 40-minute Fullers ferry from downtown Auckland. Experience a wine tasting at a cellar door or a long lunch at one of the award winning vineyards. Cable Bay and Mudbrick are just a short walk from the ferry terminal and offer great wine, seasonal dishes and a breathtaking view back towards Auckland and Rangitoto. If wining and dining isn’t your thing, head to one of the many beaches for a day of relaxing on the white sands. Our favourite beach is Onetangi as there are a couple of great cafes just a stone's throw away from the shore.
Getting around is easy, with plenty of buses and taxis to take you around, or you can pick up your YourDrive rental and explore the island like a local.
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