We all know the city of Auckland has a lot to offer itself, but some days you just feel like getting out of the city! And then you’re stuck with the “Where should we go?” scenario. Well, this post is meant to solve all your travel troubles, and hopefully inspire you to head to one of these awesome places just outside of Auckland city, if you haven’t already been.
7 Easy Day Trips
1. Waiheke Island
On a nice, sunny day in Auckland, Waiheke Island is the perfect place to go! It has been voted as Auckland’s best day out, and with it’s close proximity and beautiful features it does not disappoint. The island boasts beautiful beaches and stunning views. It is only a 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland CBD, and with the island being covered with wineries, not having to worry about driving is a major plus. There are a number of vineyards to visit on the island, and they all have generous wine tasting opportunities. Some people opt to ride bikes around for transport, but there are also a few bus routes that will take you wherever you need to be. Most of the wineries are fairly close together as well, so vineyard-hopping is easy (and highly recommended). For lunch, there are a few restaurants to choose from, that you can time or plan out with your tastings. Overall, it is an extremely easy place to navigate, and is amazing on a sunny day. However, it’s perfectly fine during a stormy day too, you’ll just have to take cover when you see those clouds coming in!!
2. Karekare Falls & Piha Beach
If you would like to head out west for the day to see nature at its finest, then you should definitely check out Karekare falls and Piha beach. Both are about a 45 minute drive from Auckland, and have easy access to reach them. Karekare falls is a stunning waterfall, that pours into a pool at the bottom for easy swimming. In summer it is an extremely popular site, so if you want to enjoy the beauty privately or just want to avoid having people in your pictures, I suggest visiting during winter or outside of peak hours. Once you arrive in the parking lot, the falls are a short walk away up the hill, and Karekare beach is a short walk the other direction towards the water. Piha beach is a short drive away from there, and has a cute town nearby with cafes and shops to enjoy. Piha beach is a black sand beach, and has a ton of cool shells and awesome photo ops. These two beaches are great and have a lot of room to enjoy where you won’t feel crowded.
3. Hobbiton Movie Set
It’s safe to say that one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Zealand is the Hobbiton Movie Set. The attraction offers a fully guided tour that takes you through the main filming sites. They show you behind the scenes footage, and explain how a lot of the scenes were filmed, including the camera tricks. The land is still fully functional and hasn’t been destroyed despite the millions of tourists that come through. It seems as if everyone does the tour, regardless if they have watched the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings movies. I’ve done the tour twice now, and the first time I did it I hadn’t seen the movies; so when the tour guide was explaining things from particular scenes, I didn’t fully understand what he was talking about. But when I knew I was going to do the tour a second time, I made sure to watch them prior to going. Although I still enjoyed the tour the first time, I was much more informed the second time, and was able to make those connections with the scenes the guide was constantly referring to. Driving from Auckland, it is about a 3 hour drive, but very doable for a day trip because the tour doesn’t last very long. I highly recommend it! (Spoiler Alert: you get a free drink from The Green Dragon Inn at the end!) Book Here
4. Rangitoto Island
Oh Rangitoto! This hike was one of the very first things I did when I moved to Auckland. It is only a short ferry ride from the city (about 25 minutes), and is a relatively easy hike. Rangitoto Island is actually the youngest volcano in Auckland, and this walk gives you the opportunity to summit it. From the top you have great views of the beaches surrounding it, and a fantastic view point of Auckland city that you don’t get to see often. The hike takes a couple of hours, and can last longer or be shorter depending on what you decide to do. There are no shops or even trash cans on the island, so we brought our own lunch and had a picnic at the top. You also have the option to explore lava tunnels and caves on a short diversion trail off the main track. There are tons of photo ops throughout the entire island, and you get to see some pretty cool things created by the volcano eruptions. The hike itself is free (minus the ferry) so if you’re looking for something to do, definitely take advantage of one of Auckland’s natural wonders.
If you get a chance and would like to explore more areas north of Auckland, Matakana is great place to go without having to spend too long in the car. Every weekend the Matakana markets attract locals and tourists from all over to buy fresh fruits, veggies, and homemade goodies. It was pretty busy when we arrived, but it was a great experience walking through everything the market had to offer. After you’ve been to the markets and are heading back to Auckland, make sure to check out Snell’s Beach and a few wineries along the way. We stopped and had a fantastic wine tasting and gourmet cheese board for lunch at Ransom Wines. There are plenty of wineries to choose from in that area, and it’s always a treat to taste the local wines. Matakana provides an easy, fun Saturday well spent!
Devonport is a 12 minute ferry ride from Auckland city across the harbor, but it also reachable by car as well. It is a quaint little town, with lots to do and see. There are plenty of pubs and cafes to grab a quick bite or drink at on High Street that are worth checking out. While Devonport has things to do like shopping, and hiring bikes or segways for a stroll around town, I suggest doing one of the walks or hikes to take advantage of all the amazing views Devonport has to offer. One of the best for viewpoints is the Mount Victoria lookout walk, which only takes around 20 minutes to get to the top depending on how fast you walk or how often you stop. If you don’t have time to walk, or the weather is not in your favor, you can also drive to the top in your car. The North Head Historic Reserve Trail is also a great walk with fantastic views, and attracts many visitors throughout the year.
Now you may be thinking Rotorua?! That’s a whole other city! But while going to Rotorua would be a bit of a stretch for a one-day trip, it is doable. The only reason why it would be hard to make it a day trip is because there is sooo much to do. Rotorua is about a 3 hour drive, but could be longer with traffic. If you left early in the morning, you’d arrive in Rotorua around 9am, which is about the time everything opens. If you want to avoid paying for accommodation, then try to fit as many things in as possible and leave later at night. It will be a long day for sure, but totally worth it. If you can, I recommend staying at least one night to make the most out of the trip, and do as much as possible. I’ve written an extensive blog post on Rotorua and everything the city has to offer HERE, so make sure you check it out and get planning!
Happy Day Tripping!