7 Best Excursions in Auckland, New Zealand
Perched on the Northern Island of New Zealand, Auckland has the best of both worlds. Curving around the Hauraki Gulf, and stretched atop a volcanic field, the city enjoys easy access to some of the world's most magnificent hiking and beaches. Auckland City is its own discovery (and you can read our Auckland edition here). But if you're embarking on the long flight to the land of Kiwis, you can't miss these incredible excursions out into New Zealand's wild.
One of the most popular retreats for kiwis and tourists alike, Waiheke Island is just a 30-minute ferry ride away. Once you arrive the possibilities are endless. Hike along the island's many trails, meandering past clifftops and forests to discover WWII-era caves and secluded beaches. Visit one of the white sand beaches and go kayaking, snorkeling, or just find a place to lay your towel for a few hours. Finally, Waiheke is famous for its stunning vineyards, and an afternoon of wine tasting is definitely in order.
photo by: @anna.brunskill / Waitakere Ranges
This regional park stretches up the North Island coastline, encompassing long swatches of beach, native forest, and rocky outcrops. You could lose yourself in this natural preserve, trekking through numerous hikes to explore all its natural wonders. Our favorite trail is the Fairy Falls Track, which ends in one of the most popular waterfalls in Auckland. Note: As of this writing, parts of Waitakere Ranges have been closed to protect against kauri dieback disease. Please check the park's official website to stay up to date on park closures.
"There are literally thousands of hikes, so you can take your pick! Overnight hikes, beach hikes, short walks, day hikes, waterfalls to swim in, native bush, wild oceans, the list goes on." -@anna.brunskill
New Zealand's first marine reserve makes for one spectacular getaway. Known officially as Cape Rodney/Okakari Point Marine Reserve, Goat Island is a lush ecological area where you can experience some of the finest marine life New Zealand has to offer. Strap on a snorkeling mask and hop in the water to get the full experience.
"[Goat Island] is one of my favorite spots due to the fact that it has a thriving ecosystem full of fish and tons of stingrays. You can easily hire fins, goggles, and snorkels to go for a dive and even catch a few waves bodysurfing." -@whileyouwerewaiting
Piha Beach and Muriwai Beach
These fantastic black sand beaches are just a few miles away from each other on the North Island's coast, and both are easily accessible from Auckland. Get your surf on at Piha beach, where the sand is wide enough that it never feels crowded. Climb up Lion Rock to discover ancient Māori carvings. Then, slip over to the rocky coast of Muriwai Beach where a massive gannet colony makes its home on the top of cliff outcrops. Check out the many water activities, like kitesurfing, or just opt for a round of golf at the nearby course.
Formed by the youngest volcano in New Zealand, Rangitoto is perfect for adventurers. The trek to the summit is practically mandatory for kiwis, and the rocky shores are a popular destination for boats our for a sail around the gulf. Swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling are all on the table for an afternoon of fun in the sun.
Coastal Track - Long Bay Beach
photo by: @_araujobernardo
"A must-do in Auckland is the Coastal Track at Long Bay Beach on the North Shore. This is a walking/cycling track that goes along the coast, jumping from beach to beach until Karepiro Bay." - @_araujobernardo. Along the way, experience stunning views of the water fringed by vegetation. Enjoy a natural breeze as you walk or bike 6km, stopping at your favorite beachside restaurant or to take a dip into the sea.
Te Whanganui-A-Hei, aka Cathedral Cove, sits on the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula, and is an unmissable item for your Auckland to do list. The cove is only accessible on foot or by boat, and this secluded trek is one of the most photogenic in the area. Explore the cave by kayak for a true adventure, then paddle up the coast and see what other discoveries you can find.
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