We're very proud to be a part of this tiny nation tucked away in the corner of the Pacific Ocean, home to a plethora of stunning natural wonders, exciting and action packed day trips and hikes through dense native bush, bustling with birds and other wildlife.
As the most populated area in New Zealand with around 1.6 million people living within its city limits, Auckland is home to some of the best tourist attractions and inner-city life that our country has to offer.
However, if you're brave enough to venture beyond the more popular and well-known tourist hotspots like the Sky Tower or other city-based attractions, you'll find the Auckland also offers some genuinely awe-inspiring hidden gems that'd we'd definitely recommend adding to your Kiwi road-trip itinerary.
Without further ado, here are our top five spots to visit in Auckland, New Zealand during the summer months.
1. Takapuna to Devonport Bike Trail
- Location: Takapuna/Devonport, North Shore Auckland
- Suitable for: alone or group bike ride on a hot summers day through a variety of scenery
Also known as the 'Green Route', this 6.8km cycle trail begins near Napier Street in Takapuna, and weaves its way through marshes, boardwalks, bridges, heritage sites and local side streets. It takes around 1 hour to complete for the average rider, and is family friendly if you're interested in bringing the kids along - just remember to bring helmets, lots of water and snacks to keep you going!
The path itself is really well signposted so you wont get lost along the way, and along the way you'll pass some really interesting spots with roots in local history. Some highlights include the O'Neill's Point Cemetery (North Shore’s oldest cemetery founded in 1891), parks and mangrove areas where you'll spot native birds like tui along your journey.
We'd also recommend stopping in Devonport to visit one of their local coffee shops, architecturally acclaimed library, waterfront park and playground. This one's a great day out where you can get in a little bit of exercise and time in the sun, and enjoy one of the best hidden spots that the North Shore has to offer.
2. Rangitoto Island, Waitemata Harbour
- Location: Rangitoto Island, Waitemata Harbour
- Suitable for: a perfect day trip with family or friends to view spectacular volcanic rock formations, caves and summit for views of the city.
In the eyeline of every Northshore, City Central and Eastern Auckland beach is the magnificent formation of Rangitoto Island, a volcano that erupted and emerged out of the sea about 600 years ago. The youngest volcano in the Auckland volcanic field, this island makes for a breathtaking day trip and perfect stomping grounds for exploration and learning about volcanic activity right here in NZ.
To get to the island, you'll need either a boat or a ticket to one of the ferries that charter visitors to and from the island. We'd recommend leaving earlier in the morning than later, to give yourself time to make it to the summit, explore the full reach of the island and catch a later ferry back. Bear in mind, there are no shops on the island, so make sure to come prepared with food and water to get you through the day.
Once you're there, the landscape feels otherworldly. The ground is covered in volcanic rock left behind from the eruption, there are ship wrecks you can visit on the far side of the island, and black volcanic caves you can trek through on your way up. Of course, as a DOC site, all of these areas are clearly signposted so you won't get lost.
Definitely a trip worth making if you've never been before!
3. Awhitu Peninsula, South Auckland
- Location: Awhitu Peninsula, Manukau Heads
- Suitable for: a drive up to the historic lighthouse (that you can climb!), amazing views of tranquil bays and rolling pastures of the coastline and a regional park nearby to make a day of it.
Jutting out from the very peak of the Manukau Heads peninsula is an old, windswept lighthouse that offers some of the most spectacular views that the Auckland region has to offer. The best part? You can drive right up to the foot of the small hill that the lighthouse sits on top of. A short climb up the stairs of the lighthouse itself and you're on a 360 degree deck that overlooks the open ocean.
While the lighthouse itself is a quick trip, the area boasts Awhitu Regional Park, a beautiful and very hidden location that's perfect for short walks, mountain bike trails, swimming and a picnics at one of the safe, white-sand beaches.
If you're feeling like a walk through history too, we'd highly recommend following the beach side trail to the Brook Homestead and jetty - a historic kauri cottage built around 1907 by the Brook family, and was never wired for electricity or connected to the power grid, restored to it's original condition and a true snapshot of what life was like in NZ for settlers at this time.
4. Ambury Farm Park, Māngere Bridge
- Location: Ambury Regional Park, Māngere Bridge
- Suitable for: a completely free family trip to visit farm animals, traverse the foreshore path and enjoy a Farmside picnic, only a stones throw from the city.
This little spot is one of our absolute favourites if you have littlies to entertain on your summer road trip. Ambury farm is an Auckland Regional Council run farm park filled with goats, cows, sheep, pigs, ducks and other super-cute farm animals that you can pat, feed, and if you really want to, get in the paddock with!
It's a really hands on day for the kids and the best part about it is that it's completely free to visit. If you time it right, you might also be able to feed young lambs that are being raised on the farm.
Once you've finished exploring the farm yard, a quick walk over the hill brings you to the Ambury Foreshore Walk and Watercare Coastal Walkway. Here, you'll get the quintessential Kiwi experience trudging through boggy paddocks, all to see a unique view of the Manukau Harbour and explore the basalt lava flows and shorebirds that have made the area home.
5. Duder Regional Park Walk, Howick
- Location: Duder Regional Park Walk, Howick
- Suitable for: a stunning and family friendly walk (given, uphill) of the Eastern Coastline through rolling pastures and of course, paddocks filled with sheep
Taking our summer road trip journey all the to through to the Eastern Coastline of Auckland, Duder Regional Park is a 6.3km loop around the hillside, and is one of the area's best kept secrets. A top tip if you're looking to give this one a go, is to bring a tonne of sunscreen as there isn't much shade or tree cover - you're really out in the open on this one!
What you'll see when you make your way up the hill is nothing short of spectacular. You'll be surrounded by the emerald waters of the eastern coast line, a full view of the Hauraki Gulf and a reminder of why we're dubbed 'clean and green NZ', with sprawling paddocks with pasture as far as the eye can see.
All up, it's about a 1.5-hour walk is a fun and practical way to learn about sustainable farming. Once you've conquered the hill ascent, you'll see the Oturia Trig station, which leads down to the beautiful white sand Umupuia Beach which is a great spot to visit for a swim, picnic and to relax after your walk.
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We've put together the perfect companion for your great Kiwi road trip - the 12 Stains of Summer Stain guide. In the guide, we cover off all of the common summer mishaps from how to get tomato sauce out of the carpet, all the way to tanning lotion on the upholstery. You can grab the guide for free by clicking below.