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16 Absolute BEST Day Trips from Auckland (+Our Personal Favorites!)

16 Absolute BEST Day Trips from Auckland (+Our Personal Favorites!)

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Looking for the best day trips to enjoy from Auckland? Then this list is a must-read!

As a former local, I spent my weekends exploring the best things to do outside of Auckland, so it’s safe to say I know my stuff. In fact, one of the best things about Auckland is the surrounding area.

The below day trips include info on self-driving for those with a rental car and also tour options for those without one.

The best part is this list includes some fantastic hidden gems for those who love to get off the beaten path, as well as the most popular day trips. Enjoy!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Here are our absolute favorite day trips from Auckland!

  1. A day trip to Hobbiton is the most iconic New Zealand thing you can do! 
  2. Dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach.
  3. Take a wine tour on the gorgeous Waiheke Island- the views and vino are unmatched!
  4. Explore the free glow worms in Waipu Cave. 
  5. Embark on a sunset kayak excursion to Rangitoto Island.

The BEST Day trips from Auckland

1. Waitomo Caves

Glow worms in the Waitomo Glow worm cave in New Zealand
So cool!
A single glow worm in the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
A glow worm up close!
  • Total Distance from Auckland: 190 kilometers (118 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: full-day (10+ hours)
  • What you need: car or organized tour

The Waitomo Caves is arguably the best place to see glow worms in New Zealand and after touring the caves myself, I can agree with that – there are literally thousands of them! Here, you can hop on a boat tour through the grotto within the cave where you can get up close to the fascinating glow worms. 

From Auckland, it is a long drive to the Waitomo Caves which will take around 2 hours to complete. My recommendation is the leave Auckland early in the morning at around 7 am, especially on a weekday. It’s 190 kilometers each way via State Highway 1 and State Highway 39. 

Another good option, if you’re driving yourself, is to add Hobbiton (detailed in full below) to your day trip to Waitomo, seeing as it’s just a short detour on your way back to Auckland from Waitomo Caves. It will take 5.5 hours (458 km) of driving, including Hobbiton, so you will need to allow at least 12 hours for this day trip. However, this means you can explore two of the best attractions near Auckland in one go!

The Waitomo Caves are a truly unique New Zealand excursion because you have to go on a boat to see the glow worms, so booking a tour is the easiest way. This exhilarating full-day tour option from Auckland is a great choice if you’re up for exploring the caves with a side of adrenalin! On this 13-hour tour (transport included), you get the chance to go black-water rafting and cave tubing through the Waitomo Caves. You will be accompanied at all times by an experienced guide, so all skill levels are welcome.

This particular tour costs $455 NZD per person and includes round-trip transport from either Auckland or Rotorua. You can book this thrilling Waitomo Cave tour in advance here.

Alternatively, if you don’t fancy driving yourself, consider this full-day tour from Auckland which includes a visit to both Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves. It also includes a Kiwi-style lunch and transport to and from your Auckland hotel. What we love about this tour is that it’s a small-group tour so only 14 people maximum are allowed, which means you’re getting a personalized experience. Allow 11 hours for this tour, it costs from $370 NZD per person and can be booked here!

2. Hobbiton

Checking the mail at Frodos house at Hobbiton
Checking the mail at Frodo’s house at Hobbiton
  • Total Distance: 169 km (105 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: full day (10+ hours)
  • What you need: car, organized tour

Our next day trip from Auckland is a classic! Visiting Hobbiton is a bucket list activity and one of the best things to do in New Zealand.

Most of you will be familiar with Hobbiton because of the famed Lord of the Rings movies. I must admit it’s the coolest movie set on the planet! So if you’re a fan it’s a must and if you’re not, well, I wrote an honest Hobbiton review for people like us!

From Auckland, you can get to Hobbiton in 2 hours. If that still sounds like too much driving for you then jump on an Auckland day tour to Hobbiton. That way someone else will do the driving for you and lots of tours also visit the glow worm caves.

As mentioned earlier, after touring the Waitomo Caves, you can visit Hobbiton on your way back to Auckland via a short detour or book this combo tour which includes both Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton. Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves are about an hour apart, so it’s a convenient way to visit both if you’re on a shorter Auckland itinerary.

This 8-hour guided tour is a great option for those who only want to visit Hobbiton. It includes round-trip transport from Auckland CBD hotels and is also limited to just 11 guests, meaning you will have the full attention of your experienced guide. This is a huge perk because most of the tours are around 40 people, and it makes it feel a lot less personal. It includes an in-depth tour of the Hobbiton movie set as well as a drink at the Green Dragon Inn, built as part of the movie set.

It costs $275 NZD per person and can be booked in advance here.

3. Cathedral Cove and Hot water Beach (Coromandel Peninsula)

A couple relax at Hot Water beach in New Zealand
Hot Water Beach!
  • Total Distance: 177 kilometers (110 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: 8 hours
  • What you need: car or organized tour

Both Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove are amazing places to visit in New Zealand and from Auckland, you can easily visit them on a day trip.

In fact, this was the first day trip I did from Auckland and it involved a 3 am wake-up call the get to Hot Water Beach for sunrise. Don’t worry though, if you don’t want to visit for sunrise you don’t need to leave so early.

For those who don’t know already, Hot Water Beach is literally a beach where you can dig a hole in the sand and enjoy a hot bath! This is because of a crack in the earth’s crust that heats underground water at the beach.

Cathedral Cove, on the other hand, is a beautiful rock formation that was used in the filming of the Narnia films. The walk to Cathedral Cove takes about 30 minutes each way and once there, you can relax on the sand or enjoy a nice cold swim.

Both attractions are only a 10-minute drive from each other so you must visit them together. This trip does take a little more planning as you can only enjoy Hot Water Beach for 2 hours on either side of low tide. So be sure to read our Hot Water Beach guide before going!

If you have a car and can visit both locations on your own, we recommend taking a boat tour to explore Cathedral Cove- the walking trail is now closed due to storm damage, so the only way to visit now is by boat! This 1-hour tour departs from Hahei Beach and will go into Cathedral Cove to explore it by water, and then continues along the coastline for 14 kilometers (8.5 miles) to Orua sea cave and a marine life reserve. This is a great option for nature lovers and can be booked for $125 NZD.

However, if you don’t have your own transportation, you can still visit Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach on this full-day tour. The best part of this tour is that your local guides can figure out the correct time and location to visit Hot Water Beach, so you don’t have to worry about planning in the slightest. You’ll get to learn about the area, enjoy bush walks, and relax on the beach all for $250 NZD per person- book this tour in advance here!

4. Muriwai Beach

view of the birds at Muriwai Beach and the ocean
Look at all of the birds!
  • Total Distance: 43 kilometers (27 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: 3 hours minimum
  • What you need: car or organized tour

If you’re after a shorter day trip from Auckland then a visit to Muriwai Beach is the perfect option. This short but sweet day trip takes you out to the west coast of the North Island to explore the rugged volcanic coastline.

Here you can lay on the beach, go for a swim, or just have a picnic or coffee. The beach itself isn’t that nice but I actually love Muriwai Beach for another reason – the birds!

There is a large Gannet colony that lives on the cliffs at the beach. Visiting this colony of birds is a must! But, you will need to be there between August and April to see the birds as they do leave after that (I don’t know where they go).

The last time I visited in January, I saw lots of baby Gannets which was really cool!

The drive to Muriwai Beach is only 37 kilometers and takes around 40 minutes so you could pair this visit with Bethells Beach (another amazing beach nearby) for the ultimate West Coast day trip from Auckland!

If you want to visit Muriwai Beach on a tour from Auckland then this half-day tour is a convenient way to do so! You’ll drive out to Muriwai Beach, walk on the black sand, and learn about the Gannet colony. I also love this tour because it includes stops at Westbrook Winery and Soljans Estate Winery, so you can really make the most of having a designated driver! This 3.5-hour tour is $175 NZD and includes transportation, national park fees, wine tasting fees, and your wonderful guide.

You can book this tour to Muriwai Beach in advance here.

5. Piha Beach

Piha beach near Auckland city
We instantly fell in love with Piha Beach!
  • Total Distance: 40 kilometers (25 miles) one-way
  • Time needed: 3 hours minimum
  • What you need: car, shuttle bus, or organized tour

Piha Beach is one of the best beaches in New Zealand! The first time I visited I was in awe of the stunning coastline. To me, it’s the contrast between the black sand, blue water, and lush green landscape that makes it a must-visit!

Getting to Piha is easy and from Auckland, it is only a 40-kilometer (25-mile) drive. The drive itself is also an attraction and once you get out of the city the landscape begins to dramatically change. Just before Piha Beach is the turnoff to Karekare Beach. I highly suggest visiting this beach on your way out as it’s just as stunning as Piha!

At Piha, you can surf and swim in the water however this part of the coastline is both rough and rocky so be sure to swim between the flags. There is a café and restaurant at the beach as well as a holiday park for campers and motorhomes.

If you want to enjoy a nice view then hike up Lion Rock which is located on the beach. This short walk up Lion Rock gives you amazing views of the entire beach!

You can dive into all things Piha Beach on this day trip from Auckland. Enjoy the scenic drive as your guide drives the small group out to Piha, and then explore its cliffs, sea caves, and iconic black sand. Having a guide ensures your safety as you explore, and helps you find hidden gems (there’s a lot to discover here!). You’ll enjoy some walking paths, a picnic lunch, and maybe even a dip in the water! This tour is $175 NZD and is my top pick for exploring Piha Beach.

6. Rotorua

Learning about the Maori culture at the Rotorua Maori Experience with Tamaki
  • Total Distance: 228 kilometers (141 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: full day (10+ hours)
  • What you need: car, organized tour, public transport

The city of Rotorua is famous in New Zealand for its geothermal activity as well as its Maori culture. Did you know that over a third of the population here is Maori, the highest concentration of Maori in any other city in the country? So, it’s a great place to explore on a day trip from Auckland and learn all about this unique culture. It’s a 2-hour 45-minute drive to Rotorua from Auckland, so best to leave early so that you have as much time to explore as possible!

Some of the best things to do in Rotorua include a visit to Te Puia, which is one of only two geyser fields in the world. Allow approximately 2 hours here – there are walks through the geothermal landscape as well as a Kiwi sanctuary and the opportunity to see Maori weaving and carving in action. Another must-do activity in Rotorua is to visit a living Maori village – Te Whakarewarewa, which is an active geothermal area and has hot pools, boiling mud, and geysers. You can also walk one of the many bush trails here, they vary in length from 5 to 50 minutes. 

However, my favorite Rotorua activity is to relax in the mudbaths at Hell’s Gate. This boasts Rotorua’s incredible geothermal activity and an hour-long spa treatment at a famous Polynesian spa is the best way to experience it. You can relax in a mudbath for $85 NZD, be sure to book this experience in advance!

To experience all of my favorite parts of Rotorua, consider this 13-hour tour from Auckland! It includes stops at Te Puia, Te Whakarewarewa, and the city of Rotorua. You can add on (for an additional charge) a visit to the Polynesian Spa, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, and even attend a Maori cultural demonstration. It includes lunch, transportation from Auckland, and can drop you off in Rotorua. This tour costs from $365 NZD per person.

7. Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto Island summit track view, Auckland
Rangitoto Island summit track view, Auckland.
  • Total Distance: 13 kilometers (8 miles)
  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • What you need: Take a ferry, no car needed

Rangitoto Island is just one of New Zealand’s volcano islands off the coast. This beautiful nature reserve is reached by a 25-minute ferry from the Auckland downtown ferry terminal. This makes it a fantastic trip from Auckland for those without a car. Tickets cost $53 NZD for adults but they have deals for children and families.

Once you reach the island by ferry or guided tour you can then choose to either take the tractor train around or simply walk yourself. A more exciting way to get to Rangitoto Island is to take a sea kayak tour, which provides the kayak and a guide to ensure your safety along this route! This tour will take you on a hike so you can explore the island by land and by sea.

Hiking is the best way to see Rangitoto Island, as it is just over 5 kilometers (3 miles) in diameter, so walking is a viable option. There are a few great walks to do with the most popular being the summit trail.

Other great trails on the island include the Boulder Bay Track and the Coastal Track. These trails take a few hours each so choose one or two and be sure to make it back in time for your ferry home! On the trails, you can see native bird species and enjoy breathtaking views. Be sure to bring lots of water and food as there is nowhere the buy it on the island!

But if you’re looking for a truly unique experience, you can book a guided sunset kayaking tour! You don’t have to be an experienced kayaker to paddle across Waitemata Harbour, and once you reach Rangitoto Island you will embark on the summit trail. As the sun sets, your guide will cook up a BBQ dinner on the shore, and then lead you on a night kayak back to the mainland. This is one of the most beautiful ways to experience Auckland and Rangitoto Island, it can be booked for $245 NZD in advance here!

Related Read: If you’re looking for more thrilling adventures, head to the South Island to see the best view of Mount Taranaki from Pouakai Hut!

8. Karekare Falls/Waitakere Ranges

Karekare Falls, New Zealand
Karekare Falls, New Zealand!
  • Total Distance: 39 kilometers (24 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: 5-6 hours
  • What you need: car, organized tour

The Karekare Falls is one of the must-see waterfalls on the North Island, at 25 meters (82 feet) tall and just a 45-minute drive (39 kilometers) from Auckland, it’s well worth driving here from the city. It’s an easy 5-minute walk from the car park to the lookout point for the falls, and you’ll pass the beautiful Opal Pool Stream Cascade on the way. Although it’s an easy walk it’s actually not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs due to the steps at the beginning of the track. 

The Karekare Falls are located within the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, a huge park at 16,000 hectares that features lush native rainforest and stunning beaches. Therefore, I highly recommend turning your trip to Karekare Falls into a full-day trip so that you can fully explore this scenic area. 

If you want to stretch your legs, there are over 250 kilometers of walking trails and one of my favorites is the short but sweet Kitekite trail, which is 45 minutes in length but you do need to pass through a few streams along the way, so, a reasonable level of fitness is recommended. The trail ends with a view of a lovely waterfall. A much longer and more challenging trail is the Hillary Trail, which is a 4-day self-guided tramp through the wildest parts of the regional park. 

Interestingly too, the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is also home to some of the best black-sand beaches in the country – Piha, Bethells, and Muriwai beaches are all located here. These are also popular places to catch a wave (surf)! So, if you’re after a beach day away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland then this is the best spot for you!

You can book a guided tour from Auckland to the Waitakere Ranges, this particular tour is 7 hours in duration and includes stops at several scenic viewpoints as well as the chance to see Maori carvings. You will also be taken on a guided rainforest walk to see huge native Kauri trees and get to visit the gorgeous black-sand beaches I mentioned earlier. Some of the hiking trails in this area are closed for Kauri conservation, so having a guide will ensure you find a trail that’s open!

This tour costs $285 NZD per person and can be booked in advance here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

9. Waiheke Island

A Waiheke Island winery
I love visiting the wineries on Waiheke Island!
  • Total Distance: 49 kilometers (30 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: 6 hours minimum (8 preferably)
  • What you need: Just a ferry but a car would help

Waiheke Island is my favorite island off the coast of Auckland. To be honest, a day trip here from Auckland is so much fun, but spending a few nights is even better!

Getting to the island is easy and if you have a car you can actually take it on the Sea Link ferry. This ferry takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes and costs $137 for a car and driver and $23.50 per person each way. If you don’t have a car then you can take the Fullers fast ferry which only takes 35 minutes to reach the island and costs $55 return for adults.

On Waiheke Island, there’s lots to see and do but my favorite is the wine tours such as this day tour that takes you to 3 picturesque wineries. On this 6-hour tour, you’ll get to sample some of Waiheke’s wineries produce world-class wines, and not have to worry about driving! You can reserve this tour for $180 NZD and all of your wine tastings are included.

Or, for the cheaper option, opt for the hop-on-hop-off bus! This is a great way to independently explore the wineries, but have the convenience of transportation available. The bus runs on the top of the hour so you can hang out at any specific wineries for as long as you’d like! You can book this hop-on-hop-off bus for $76 NZD.

Other fun things to do on Waiheke Island are to enjoy the beautiful beaches, go snorkeling or diving, and eat at tasty restaurants. If you want a bit of exercise, with a bike rental you can explore lots of the wineries getting tipsy along the way.

Hot tip: If you can, spend a night or two on Waiheke Island. You can explore accommodation on the island. As for other tours, there are a lot more great options that come highly rated, from wine to adventure tours you can browse them all here.

10. Bay of Islands and Waipu Caves (Northland)

cruising around the bay of islands
Cruising around the Bay of Islands!
  • Total Distance: 235 kilometers (146 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: 10 hours
  • What you need: car or organized tour

One of the longest day trips from Auckland I recommend doing is the drive out to Paihia in the Bay of Island, New Zealand as well as the Waipu Caves.

From Auckland to Paihia in the Bay of Islands, it’s a 235-kilometer drive that takes around 2.5 to 3 hours. However, if you leave in the morning you can easily make one of the famous dolphin cruises in the Bay of Islands. This locally-owned wildlife cruise will sail for 6 hours where you can spot dolphins, little blue penguins, Gannets, and more! It’s a really incredible experience, so it often sells out so be sure to book in advance.

After spotting dolphins on your Bay of Islands cruise you can enjoy lunch in town before heading back to Auckland via the best free glow worms caves in New Zealand, the Waipu Caves. At the Waipu Caves, you can simply park your car and wander into a cave to see lots of glow worms.

You can walk in only 50 meters (164 ft) and see the worms but for a better look wade through the water to the second part of the cave. Here, you can see thousands! You’ll need a torch to visit the caves and be aware that the second part of the cave is covered in 3-inch deep water.

This day trip is a long one and involves 458 kilometers of driving (around 6 hours) in total. I would only recommend doing this if you can’t spend more time in Northland. It would also make a great weekend trip leaving on a Saturday morning and returning Sunday afternoon!

If you don’t want to drive yourself or don’t have a car then this Bay of Islands day tour from Auckland is a great choice. It includes your dolphin-watching cruise, a visit to the famous Hole in the Rock, trekking, and exploring the quaint coastal town. Prices vary by group size, but this is a great option if you’re short on time and want to explore Northland! Check out the details, prices, and book the tour online here.

Related Read: If you’re looking for more free things to do in Auckland, you’re in luck! Some of our favorite activities are free or cheap, so you don’t have to blow your budget to experience the city.

11. Auckland Maori Tour

Bailey plays a Maori Game at the Tamaki Maori Village, Rotorua
Bailey played a Maori game, and she almost won!

One of the best cultural trips on this list doesn’t actually require you to go very far from the CBD. This fascinating Maori tour led by a Maori guide taught us about the myths, legends, and history of this unique culture while taking us to some important sites in Auckland CBD and on the West Coast.

Some of the stops include Mount Eden and Mount Victoria – two dormant volcanoes that are important sites to both historic and modern-day Maoris. It’s a small group tour and questions are encouraged, you will honestly learn so much on this tour! The tour also includes a gourmet lunch, prices start from $395 NZD per person and can be booked in advance here.

12. Raglan

Bridal Veil Falls, Raglan
Bridal Veil Falls, Raglan
  • Total Distance: 155 kilometers (96 miles), one way
  • Time needed: 7 hours minimum
  • What you need: car or organized tour

If you love laid-back surf towns, drinking craft beers, laying on the beach, waterfalls, or surfing then Raglan is a day trip from Auckland you have to do!

Located 155 kilometers southwest of Auckland, Raglan is the ultimate hippy town. The surf here is usually pumping and with both beach and point breaks, there are waves for all experience levels from beginners to pros. You can book a 2-hour surf lesson for an easy introduction to the sport. This is one of the best places to learn and the instructors are patient and encouraging!

In town, you can enjoy drinks at the amazing restaurants and bars, enjoy a coffee, or get the Kiwi classic fish and chips and take it to the beach.

On the drive, you’ll pass a sign from Bridal Veil Falls. Be sure to stop here for a quick walk to the waterfall – it’s simply stunning!

Of course, it is a bit of a drive to Raglan so I always recommend spending a night in Raglan (you won’t want to leave after only a few hours) but for those without time, a day trip from Auckland is easily managed.

If you want a truly epic Raglan experience, you can embark on a sunset cruise on Whaingaroa Harbour. They are all about good vibes on this 90-minute cruise, so you can enjoy drinks from the bar, music, friendly hosts, and the beautiful sunset- of course! This short but sweet cruise will be a great finale to your day as you head back to Auckland. Book this sunset cruise in advance starting at only $60 NZD per person!

13. Whangaparāoa Peninsula

A beach on the Whangaparāoa Peninsula
The gorgeous view from Shakespeare Regional Park!
  • Total Distance: 25 kilometers (15 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: 4-5 hours
  • What you need: car

Just 25 kilometers from Auckland and part of the beautiful Hibiscus Coast, the Whangaparaoa Peninsula is home to numerous gorgeous beaches and is very popular with holidaying Kiwis during the summer months. In fact, at this time of year, this small area almost triples in population size!

Stanmore Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches here, especially with families as the warm waters here are safe for swimming and there’s also a large playground with a flying fox, climbing web, and a log swing! You can easily walk from Whangaparāoa town center to Stanmore Bay Beach, and it’s just an hour so I highly recommend doing so. Along the way, you will be treated to views of the Whangaparāoa Peninsula, you will also walk through wetlands where you can spot many native birds. 

If you’re a golfer the Gulf Harbour Country Club is a must-visit, in fact, it’s consistently rated as one of Auckland’s best golf courses. This 18-hole course actually hosted the World Cup of Golf back in 1998. 

The Shakespear Regional Park is also located on the peninsula and is home to three swimming beaches (Te Haruhi Bay, Okoromai Bay, and Army Bay) as well as numerous walking tracks varying in length. As well as that, you can go mountain biking on some of the trails here and also try out surfing at Te Haruhi Bay. There are also two campsites here should you wish to spend the night, you can find more information here.

14. Tiritiri Matangi Wildlife Sanctuary

Tiritiri Matangi wildlife sanctuary near Auckland, New Zealand
Tiritiri Matangi Wildlife Sanctuary near Auckland, New Zealand. Photo Credit: Delilah from Our Travel Mix
  • Total Distance: 30 kilometers by ferry (19 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: 6 hours minimum
  • What you need: Just the ferry no car needed

When I asked a friend who had lived in Auckland her whole life what her favorite place to visit outside the city was, she told me without hesitation about Tirtiri Matangi Island. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of the place until she mentioned it!

Tiritiri Matangi Island is a predator-free wildlife sanctuary located 30km northeast of Auckland and only 4km from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. The island was once devastated by farming but volunteers back in 1984 began planting native trees on the island and in 10 years planted almost 300,000 trees.

The island is now a sanctuary for New Zealand birds and a beautiful escape from Auckland City. Luckily for visitors, the island is much easier to visit than it is to pronounce so I quickly made a day trip from Auckland to Tiritiri Matangi.

The ferry to the island from downtown Auckland costs $95 return and takes just over an hour each way. Although expensive, once there you can enjoy pristine beaches, stunning nature walks, and even visit New Zealand’s oldest operating lighthouse.  

15. Hunua Ranges Regional Park

Hunua Falls, Auckland
Hunua Falls, Auckland
  • Total Distance: 49 kilometers (30 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: 4 – 5 hours
  • What you need: car

The huge Hunua Ranges Regional Park (it’s a whopping 14,000 hectares) is the largest forested area in Auckland. It’s just an hour’s drive from the city via State Highway 1 so it’s a great day trip to take from Auckland!

One of the reasons this park is so popular with tourists is the stunning Hunua Falls, a 30-meter (98.5-foot) waterfall located just before Hunua Village. An easy 5-minute walking trail leads to a lookout of the falls and is suitable for the whole family. You can also walk the slightly longer 20-minute Hunua Falls Lookout Walk to see a different perspective of the falls, this trail follows along the Wairoa River and also takes you through native bush, so it’s really scenic! 

Another great, but slightly longer walking trail here is the Suspension Bridge Loop Walk which will take 90 minutes to complete and is quite a strenuous uphill climb that includes views of the Wairoa dam. 

If you’re a bird-lover there are loads of native birds to be found here including one of the rarest birds in New Zealand – the Kokako. As well as that near the river and pools in the park you may see the Hochstetter frog, one of the most unique frogs in the world. That’s because it doesn’t have webbed feet and doesn’t make any noise!

16. North Shore – Devonport to Long Bay

Browns Bay, New Zealand
Credit – Big Stock – mrcmos
  • Total Distance: 20 kilometers (12 miles), one-way
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • What you need: Just the ferry or a car

When people come to Auckland, it sometimes feels like all they want to do is leave. However, Auckland’s North Shore provides a convenient but beautiful escape from the busy city.

From Auckland, it only takes about 20 minutes by car the reach the south end of North Shore which is Devonport. But, if you don’t have a car you can also take a ferry from downtown Auckland too. The ferry only takes 12 minutes and costs $8 each way for adults.

In Devonport, you can join the Explorer Bus and enjoy an hour’s drive around the area. They’ll take you to two volcanic cones on the tour and check out amazing views of Auckland city. Another great activity is to visit the Devonport Chocolate Factory or join the segway tour that will take you around the village of Devonport and to the summit of Mt. Victoria. Plus, you get to ride a segway, which makes this experience even more fun!

There is also a great half-day tour from Auckland to Devonport that allows you to see the highlights of the city. I like that this tour includes transportation and is a small group, so it’s a hassle-free way to explore. You’ll get to see Lake Pupuke (a freshwater lake in a volcanic crater), the famous Takapuna walk, a historic reserve, and beautiful scenic overlooks. But the value of this tour is having a local guide explain all the history that’s within these streets because it’s actually quite fascinating!

If you’re interested in learning about history and seeing another side of Auckland, you’ll really enjoy this tour! You can book it in advance here.

Alternatively, if you have a car or you don’t mind catching the bus, then you can head even further north and check out some of the beautiful beaches in the area including Cheltenham Beach, Narrow Neck Beach, Browns Bay, and Mairangi Bay. However, don’t let that stop you from exploring the coastal towns and beaches all the way to Long Bay!

I love this area of Auckland and for the most part, it remains a local secret, that is, until now!

Where to Stay in Auckland

Marsden Viaduct Hotel in AUckland
Photo credit: Marsden Viaduct Hotel

We’ve stayed in Auckland a handful of times and even lived here for a bit, so we know the best areas to stay! Here are some of my favorite hostels and hotels, whether you’re looking for a nice, cheap option or something a bit more lavish!

Attic Backpackers – $

Located just minutes from the Sky Tower in Auckland’s CBD, Attic Backpackers is my all-time favorite budget option in Auckland. It has a cozy and homey feel and a wonderful outdoor area that you can enjoy year-round. This is more of a hostel vibe, so there is a shared kitchen, bathroom, and dorm-style rooms, with a few privates available as well. 

Dorm rooms start as low as $50 NZD per night, and private rooms are around $140 NZD. You can check prices and book a room on Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Marsden Viaduct Hotel – $$

I love a good view that isn’t over the top in price! Marsden Viaduct Hotel overlooks the Viaduct and is a quick 5-minute walk from Wynyard Quarter. The area is full of Auckland’s best bars and restaurants, so you won’t have to go far to find anything!

Prices start around $275-$300 and can be upgraded for Viaduct views for more. This is a popular hotel choice, so be sure to reserve this accommodation on Booking.com

The Grand by SkyCity – $$$

For our luxury travelers, you can’t go wrong with The Grand by SkyCity! This five-star hotel is located in Central Auckland, just a few minutes walk from the Sky Tower and all the other CBD entertainment. Featuring an on-site casino, restaurant, and spa, you won’t even want to leave the hotel!

Rooms are $350 and up, but sometimes you can find a good price on Booking.com!

There are plenty of great places to stay in Auckland, so you can check out all of the options here!

Renting a Car or Campervan in New Zealand

Bailey takes a selfie with a JUCY campervan
Ready to hit the road!
Bailey stands infront of a JUCY campervan in New Zealand
JUCY is another favorite!

The first step to planning your New Zealand road trip is choosing your set of wheels! Most people rent a campervan or motorhome to get around, but you can also just rent a normal car and stay in hotels (as opposed to camping.)

You can search for rental cars online with Discover Cars in advance to compare car models and prices. We’ve used this website all over the world and if you want more details, read our honest review of Discover Cars for more details!

You can also do this with motorhomes and campervans on a website called Motorhome Republic. It shows all of the available campervans and motorhomes for your specific New Zealand road trip dates. You can compare prices and company reviews here too!

JUCY is our personal favorite campervan rental company in NZ. We love JUCY because they have such a range of both cars and campervans available, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit your budget and travel style.

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! What a good deal!

You can check prices, availability and book with JUCY online here.

Star RV is another company we personally recommend but specifically for motorhomes! They offer larger motorhomes (as opposed to budget campervans) at really reasonable rates.

Star RV has actually given us a discount code for our readers too! Use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off your motorhome rental! Note, this code is only valid for bookings made before June 21, 2024 with travel dates before Dec 21, 2024. Click here to browse availability, prices, and book with our discount code!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey sits in a Hobbit door at Hobbiton in New Zealand
Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading and I hope you now have some great day trips from Auckland to look forward to. If you have any questions about the info above or just have some words to share, please leave them below in the comments section, we’d love to hear from you!

Be sure to check out our New Zealand blog page which includes all our articles set by region so you can easily plan your trip to New Zealand! Or, check out some of these articles below:

10 Tips on How to Score a Cheap Campervan Rental in New Zealand

The Absolute BEST Milford Sound Cruise + How to Choose a Cruise

10 Different New Zealand Road Trip Itineraries with Maps & Attractions

15 BEST Day Trips from Wellington, NZ