Summer is now in full swing! These warmer months create the perfect opportunity to explore your backyard and further afield. There is so much to see within an hour's drive of Auckland City and the team here at YourDrive would like to share our 5 must-do Auckland day trips.
An hour west of the city centre you will find Auckland's most popular black sand surf beach. The laidback seaside village has a dramatic landscape, with rugged cliffs at each end making it popular for both locals and tourists. See the iconic Lion Rock, try your hand at surfing the waves or spend your day relaxing on the beach. For those not wanting to brave the large surf you can check out the Kitekite Falls. A short 1.8km walk leads you to a 3 tiered waterfall with a large swimming hole. Make sure you pack a picnic as once you reach the falls you won't want to leave!
Take State Highway 16 and exit onto Urban Route 13. Continue onto Scenic Drive and take Piha Road to Seaview Road which leads you straight to the beach.
2. Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is accessible by ferry from downtown Auckland. Make sure to line up early as the ferry can be very busy on hot sunny days. Once on the short 40-minute ferry, you get excellent views looking back at Auckland City as well as the beautiful harbour, including Rangitoto (New Zealand's youngest volcano and another great Auckland day trip! Once on the island, getting around is easy. There are buses and taxis to take you around, or you can pick up your YourDrive rental and explore the island like a local.
Spend your day on one of the many beaches Waiheke has to offer. Our favourite beach being Palm Beach with white sands and clear waters. Being on the North side of the island it tends to be sheltered from the wind. Palm Beach has two BBQ areas, perfect for a family gathering.
Or, you may prefer a long lunch at one of Waiheke Island's vineyards. Cable Bay, is located a short (but uphill) walk from the ferry terminal. Once you get there you will be treated to great wine, seasonal dishes and a breathtaking view.
Along the wild West Coast, Muriwai Beach is a top surfing location. But the real attraction here is the large gannet colony which nests on the cliffs. Around 1,200 pairs of gannets nest on these cliffs every year. With their two metre wingspan and nests only centimetres apart, it's entertaining to watch them darting between each other. Once the fluffy chicks hatch they prepare for a frightening first jump - right off the cliff. You can see the entertaining colony from October to February, it is most spectacular at sunset.
Just North of Muriwai Beach is Woodhill Forest. For those feeling adventurous, they can take on a treetop obstacle course at Tree Adventures or check out Woodhill Mountain Bike Park which has trails suitable for beginners right through to advanced riders.
Follow State Highway 16 to Waimauku, take a left turn onto Muriwai Road. From here you can follow the signs.
4. Hunua Ranges
The Hunua Ranges is an hour out of Auckland Central and boasts the stunning Hunua Falls. It's a short 30-minute loop walk to the falls through native forest. Make sure to get a photograph through the golden picture frame! For those wanting a longer hike, there are some more challenging tracks with many swimming holes in the numerous streams and rivers on the way.
If you are wanting a longer break from the city bustle there are several camping areas to choose from. The scenic accommodation is located both near the park entrances and further down the longer tracks. Note that bookings through the Auckland Regional Council are required, especially during the warmer months.
Follow State Highway 1 and exit at Route 20/ Manukau. Take a left onto Redoubt Road then keep right onto Mill Road. Continue onto Cosgrave Road, then Clevedon Road. Take a right onto Dominion Road and follow on to Hunua Road. From here follow the signs to Hunua Falls.
5. Matakana Village
This small rural town is abundant with cafes and shops worth exploring for the day. On Saturday mornings the town comes alive and is buzzing with the Matakana Farmers Market. This market is popular with locals and showcases the fresh produce and delicious food from around the region.
Only 15-minute's drive from Matakana and you will reach Goat Island Marine Reserve. With crystal clear and sheltered waters this is a great spot for snorkelling or diving. Check out the enormous Snapper, colourful fish and crayfish amongst the rocks. If snorkelling or diving isn't your thing you can take a ride on the glass bottom boat.
Follow State Highway 1 through to Warkworth then turn right onto Sandspit Road. Continue on to Matakana Road and once you reach the roundabout you have arrived!
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