Auckland - Best Day Trips

27 September 2012

Also known as the "City of Sails," Auckland in the North Island is New Zealand's largest urban area.  Extending out along a narrow isthmus located between the Manukau Harbor in the Tasman Sea and Waitemata Harbor in the Pacific Ocean, Auckland is one of the few cities in the world to lay claim to two separate seas.

Here are our top day trips from Auckland.

 Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island
New Zealand's "island of wine", Waiheke, is easily accessible via a short flight from North Shore Airfield or a ferry ride from Queen Street in Auckland's CBD. Waiheke's main village, Oneroa, is home to art galleries, cafes and restaurants but the island is best known for its vineyards and the Waiheke Island Brewery. Book an Island Wine Tour or take a self-guided tour to Cable Bay or Stonyridge Vineyard to sample Waiheke's award-winning wines.

Rangitoto Island
The iconic volcanic island is just a 25-minute ferry ride from Auckland and makes an ideal day trip destination for nature lovers. Hike to the summit to enjoy spectacular views of Auckland and the harbor. Along the way spot native birdlife and discover caves left by liquid lava called lava tubes. When you return to sea level, head along the coastline to Wreck Bay, a graveyard for several ships that were dumped when they became obsolete in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Piha Beach
Below the Waitakere Ranges and the lush green valley of Piha is the wind-swept Piha Beach, 40 minutes from Auckland on the west coast. Wrapped by rugged coastline, this beach is favored by surfers and boasts black volcanic sand and lively surf. Less experienced swimmers should climb Lion Rock or settle under it and watch the pros from the shore. Enjoy a bite to eat at Piha Cafe before selecting some original artwork or jewellery from West Coast Gallery.

Wenderholm Regional Park
Auckland's first regional park and one of its most popular, Wenderholm is located on the east coast just 35 minutes from the city. Take a gourmet picnic to share under the shelter provided or enjoy the open air and sunshine. Kayak up the river, swim at the beach and select a forest walk to suit your stamina and time frame. If you find that just one day at Wenderholm is not enough after all, plan to camp the next time.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves
When you want to get out of the city for a day that's unlike any other, head by car, coach or train to the world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves, south of Auckland. Adrenaline junkies will love black water rafting, which includes abseiling, caving, walking, tubing and climbing. For a slower paced scenic tour through the caves, opt for a boat ride that will take you gliding through The Cavern and beneath the luminescent lights of thousands of tiny glowworms in Glowworm Grotto.

Xanthe Coward

Xanthe's favourite travel destinations are the Greek Islands, Indonesia, Fiji and Vanuatu. With a background in performing arts, fine food, wine and good times, Xanthe enjoys travel that brings her close to the locals and their leisure activities. Being a theatre reviewer means that Xanthe will always do dinner and a show before checking out the late night city scene and still be up early to find the markets and a decent pot of chai.