Weather you live in Auckland or are starting or ending your journey here, there is a lot of exceptional places you can visit during day trips completely free if you got a car and you like being outside. I’m based on the North Shore of Auckland, close to Long Bay Regional Park – therefore that’s the offset of my recommendations:
1: Long Bay Regional Park:
Approximately 1 KM from my place, will take you 5 minutes to get there by car. The Regional park goes along the cost from Torbay up to Stillwater. Is is a very popular spot for Aucklanders to visit during the summer and it pays to park in the new sub development of Long Bay. From the park you get amazing views of the Hauraki Harbour with Rantitoto in the background. A complete, partly loopwalk, will take you 3-4 hours, but you can choose to hang out at the beach at Long Bay which is good for swimming and you don’t have to walk or you can do part of the walk up North on the park and loop back at several points to make the walk shorter. I can recommend walking around low tide as you’ll be able to walk along the coastline most of the way. A very small cafe is open during the summer in the weekends – but be prepared, they are often sold out of almost everything so better BYO what ever you want.
2: Musick Point:
This is a fair bit of way from my place. The drive is about 45 minutes if there is no traffic – or at least the double in rush hour. The distance is about 47 kilometers each way. Musick Point is yet another place that is worth visiting at low tide. You will be able to walk to the from the cliff top where you get amazing views of the city, Browns Island and Rangitoto down to the water and walk back along the beach (not suitable for swimming!) and then loop back through the golf course. The round trip is about 1 hour. There are cafes along Bucklands Beach and also in Half Moon Bay Marina.
3: Muriwai Gannet Colony
Birds, birds, birds and black sand with the optional option of going sand surfing. About a 45 minute drive away as well but a bit shorter (40 kilometers) is the most Northern Beach in the Waitakere Ranges National Park. Here you will be able to get close to some pretty big and smelly birds, the gannets.They nest on the cliff side right above the roughing ocean on the West Coast. I will recommend parking at Muriwai Beach as parking options here are a lot better, but be aware. During the weekends and in the summer a lot of local Kiwis go there as well and the parking can be pretty crazy! When you go, make sure to bring your swim gear and, if you have, your buggie boards. There are some nice sand cliffs from where you can surf down – especially good if you are a kid or act like one. Muriwai has a great little cafe / takeaway shop, so no need to back your lunch if you have the spare dollars to spend for food when you are there.
4: Whatipu Beach
Probably the hidden beach of the West Coats and the Waitakare Ranges, here you definately need a (rental) car to get to – there is no public transport in any way, but there is a great little campground/ lodge if you want to stay overnight. The area holds the remains of an old wharf used to ship off kauri threes when the Europeans first came here. The beach there is amazing and in constantly changing shape. Make sure you take a look at the pictures from 20 years age that is displayed by the car park. Another awesome thing that you find here are the natural caves where some of them are big enough to hold parties – and that was what they actually were used for back in the heydays where the kauri forest industry was booming. A touch is highly recommended if you are going cave exploring – and don’t go it you don’t like narrow spaces!
5: North Head
Most people visiting Auckland will see or at least consider visiting Devonport. About 30 minutes (22 kilometers) drive away from Torbay you’ll find North Head. As in all the other places I have mentioned you’ll get amazing views from there. From here you can view the Auckland skyline, Rangitoto and Devonport. As an added bonus you’ll be able to explore some old tunnels from when the area was used as part of the defense of Auckland by the military. Also, if you have kids, remember to bring some big cardboard pieces and they can have heaps of fun sliding down the side of the hill on a warm summer day.
6: Stone Fields
Another world lies just behind Auckland Airport. The stone fields is an amazing place. It’s quite a long drive by car from Torbay, but it well worth it. Roughly 50 kilometers or a 45 minute drive through the Waterviev tunnel and you’ll be at a place that could be anywhere in New Zealand. Walk around on top of one of Aucklands many vulcanos and enjoy the view of the Manukau Harbour, far out in the horizon you will be able to see the Manukau Heads that you might have visited if you went to Waitipu Beach. If you are in season for avokados there are a area where you can pick your own free of charge – maximum 5 – please respect this so there will be some left for me as well
7: Herald Island
Amazing – I actually found a place where I won’t point out the views – although you’ll still find them here 🙂 Herald Island is located about 25 minutes drive / 22 kilometers away. The island holds it own little community and there is only access by one road. Once a year there is a garage sale where you’ll be able to find all sort of great stuff – and a bit of rubbish! Take a few hours out to take a walk around the island where you can do a look walk and enjoy the domain, parks and atmosphere of being in the city and still car away.
Thanks for reading my post, I hope it was helpful for some unusual places to see while in Auckland.
Henrik, CEO & Creator of MyCarYourRental.com
Oh, and by the way – do you need a place to stay in on the North Shore of Auckland, maybe in Torbay? Check out my rooms on airbnb – if you haven’t used airbnb before, make sure to use the link below to join – it will give you $50.- in travel credit when you book a room 😉