The 9 best day trips from Auckland

Gold-mining history, island and coastal escapes, and outdoor (and underground!) adventures all combine for the best ways to enjoy a day trip from Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city. And everywhere you go, there’s almost always the promise of good food, wine and beer.

Do some water sports in Raglan

Why go? Surf, outdoor adventures and art

West coast surf combines with cafe culture and kayaking or paddle boarding on the sheltered waters of Raglan’s Whaingaroa Harbor. A bohemian band of local artists includes the diverse crew at Jet Collective, and Māori-influenced design from Simon Te Wheoro at his Toi Hauāuru Studio.

How to get to Raglan: From Auckland to Raglan is just under two hours by car. By public transport, travel by InterCity bus from Auckland to Hamilton, and then transfer to Busit route 23 linking Hamilton to Raglan from the Hamilton Transport Centre.

Have a food, beer and wine tour in Matakana

Why go? Breweries, beaches, and a brilliant farmers market

Visit Matakana’s excellent market – held riverside on a Saturday morning – before exploring the region’s emerging wine scene or sampling craft beer at 8 Wired Brewing or the Sawmill Brewery. Essential summertime beach detours include Matheson Bay, and Anchor Bay on the nearby Tawharanui peninsula.

How to get to Matakana: Matakana is an easy one-hour drive north of Auckland. By bus with Auckland Transport takes from two to three hours (via Warkworth), but will involve multiple transfers. Culinary tours including local cheese, oysters, beer, wine, and chocolate are offered by Matakana-based Kiwiness Tours. It also runs after-dark walks to experience the kiwi sanctuary at nearby Tawharanui Regional Park.


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Tourists stroll around an Italian-style garden, with individual flower beds separated by low hedges
Hamilton Gardens is home to a series of themed enclosed gardens © ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

Enjoy art and culture in Hamilton

Why go? Extravagant gardens and Māori culture

How to get to Hamilton: By car, it’s an easy 90-minute drive south on SH1, and there are also regular InterCity bus services linking Auckland and Hamilton.

Go glowworm spotting at the Waitomo Caves

Why go? Exciting subterranean adventures

Board a boat to drift along an underground river in Waitomo’s historic glowworm cave, or embark on the “Only in New Zealand” adventure of blackwater rafting. Wetsuits are for participants steering an inner tube over mandatory underground rapids and waterfalls. Other exciting options include cave zip-lining and rappelling with Waitomo Adventures.

How to get to the Waitomo Caves: It’s a drive of two hours and 30 minutes from Auckland to the Waitomo Caves, or the destination can be combined with a longer visit incorporating Raglan or Hamilton (both one hour from Waitomo). Day trips from Auckland including the Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton can be booked with Bush & Beach.

A huge rock archway is a distinctive feature on a sandy beach
The incredible Cathedral Cove is a gentle walk from Hahei © Peter Unger / Getty Images

Take a hike and have a soak in Hahei

Why go? Surprising coastal highlights on the Coromandel Peninsula

Embark on an easy coastal hike (around 40 minutes) to Cathedral Cove, a spectacular rock arch on the edge of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve. After rain, a natural waterfall sometimes flows from atop the arch. At nearby Hot Water Beach, visitors can dig themselves a natural hot-water spa pool in the sand around low tide. Pizza and beers at Hahei’s Pour House complete this Coromandel day trip.

How to get to Hahei: Auckland to Hahei is just over two hours by car. From October to April, visitors to Cathedral Cove should leave their vehicle at the Park & ​​Ride parking lot at the entrance to Hahei, and catch the shared shuttle to the walk’s starting point. Buses to Hahei from Go Kiwi run from downtown Auckland, also stopping to pick up passengers at Auckland Airport.

See 19th-century heritage in Coromandel Town

Why go? Railway ride and forest adventures

Heritage 19th-century reinforce the gold-mining history of Coromandel Town, discovered nearby at Driving Creek in 1852. Now the verdant valley incorporates the quirky narrow-gauge Driving Creek Railway buildings – with views all the way back to Auckland from the “Eyefull Tower” – and an exciting zip line swooping through a stand of regenerating native forest.

How to get to Coromandel Town: Driving from Auckland to Coromandel Town takes around two hours 30 minutes, but an alternative day trip option is to catch the ferry from downtown Auckland with Fullers360. The journey across the Firth of Thames takes two hours, and incorporates a 15-minute minibus transfer to Coromandel Town. Transfers covering the short distance to Driving Creek are also available.

Two hikers wearing backpacks stride down a grassy path towards a sandy cove hidden by tall rocks on each side
Tiritiri Matangi is full of marvelous trails where you can spot lots of different birds © Nava Fedaeff / Shutterstock

Stroll the trails of Tiritiri Matangi

Why go? Native birdlife on an island sanctuary

Venture across the Hauraki Gulf to this predator-free bird sanctuary. Tiritiri Matangi’s avian superstars are the squat and quizzical takahē, a flightless bird only found on the island, and in the most remote wilderness areas of New Zealand’s South Island. Strolling on the Tiritiri Matangi’s bush and beach trails may also reveal up to 30 other bird species.

How to get to Tiritiri Matangi: Catch the ferry from downtown Auckland to Tiritiri Matangi with Fullers360. Fullers’ other island day trip destinations from Auckland include Rotoroa Island and Rangitoto Island.

Enjoy the microclimate of Waiheke Island

Why go? Wine, beaches, and fine dining

Auckland’s island of wine is a favorite escape for city locals, drawn to Waiheke’s vineyard restaurants, and a Mediterranean-style microclimate that’s equal parts southern Europe and the southern hemisphere. Challenge yourself on EcoZip’s zip line adventure, soaring high above vineyards and native bush, before a long lunch at the Spanish-influenced Casita Miro.

How to get to Waiheke Island: Catch the passenger ferry with Fullers360 from downtown Auckland, and then use the convenient 50A and 50B bus services from Auckland Transport to get around the island. You’ll need to buy a stored value AT HOP card to use on the bus. Car ferries with Sealink leave from central Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter and Half Moon Bay in east Auckland.

Introducing New Zealand’s North Island

Have a beachfront meal in Waihi

Why go? Gold-mining history and cliff-top walking

Towering Phoenix palms and stately buildings line Waihi’s main street, a legacy of the quiet Waikato town’s gold-flecked past. Explore the region’s lustrous history at the award-winning Gold Discovery Centre, join a tour to learn about the sprawling Martha Mine, or divert to nearby Waihi Beach and tackle the Orokawa Bay walk high above the beach’s surf-trimmed arc. A late lunch or early dinner at Flatwhite’s beachfront location is recommended.

How to get to Waihi: It’s a drive of one hour 45 minutes from Auckland to Waihi, and then a further 15 minutes to Waihi Beach. InterCity buses linking Auckland to Tauranga stop at Waihi, but travelers then need to catch Bayhopper’s number 85 bus service from Waihi to Waihi Beach (Tuesday and Thursday only), or arrange taxi transport with Waihi Cabs.

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