We love Auckland, but sometimes, it is nice to get out of the city and explore something new and exciting nearby. Wonderfully, the North Island offers some iconic gems to discover on a boring weekend. From scenic mountain drives to coastal adventures, we’ve found something for all ages to enjoy. Here’s 12 of the best day trips this season from Auckland.
This beachside surf town is just under two hours south of Auckland in the Waikato region. Discover the black sand beach Ngarunui, do watersports, learn about native history, drink excellent coffee and more. Particularly, adventurists will love the climb to Mt Karioi Volcano and native forests that offer plenty of mountain activities and unique cycle trails. Certainly, the closest place you’ll find resembling an Australian adventure.
2. The Coromandel
Unwind at one of New Zealand’s finest destinations just two hours and 15 minutes away. Specifically known for its more relaxed way of life and stunning coastal scenes. With magnificent beaches, incredible hikes and tasty grub — you’ll fall into a realm of tranquility. Highlights include museums, visiting the renowned Cathedral Cove Rock or Creek Railway, which is an old train ride in the mountains.
3. Waiheke Island
Take a 40-minute ferry ride to reach one of the most beautiful places in the world. Experience incredible coastal landscape, stunning walking trails, award-winning wineries, adrenaline activities like ziplining year around. One of our favourite spots on Waiheke is Mudbrick Vineyard which overlooks the Hauraki Gulf and vines offering an iconic romantic dining experience.
Just two hours’ drive, this North Island spot is perfect for adrenaline junkies. Think guided boat tours through the epic underground glow worm caves and limestone caverns to black water rafting on underground rivers and abseiling 100m into Lost World to explore the Mangapu Streamway. Certainly, you won’t get bored.
5. Rangitoto Island
Nature lovers will adore another one of the best day trips via a short 30-minute scenic ferry ride from Auckland. Pack a lunch and explore lava fields and caves, spot majestic birds, see shipwrecks from the 1800s and even take a dip in the sea, to name a few things.
Matakana is just a 45 minutes’ drive from central Auckland and offers the ultimate weekend foodie experience. Head early to avail of top-notch market deals and chow down on some fantastic cheap eats. Expect award-winning coffees, indulgent brunches and plenty of sinful sweet options. Equally, there’s an array of shops and boutiques, in the surroundings, where you can shop till you drop. Indeed, one of the quickest day trips near Auckland.
Rotorua is probably one of the most underrated places on the planet. This magical land is only a two hour and 40-minutes’ drive from Auckland. Known as Sulphur City, it is renowned for its bubbling mud pools, breathtaking hikes, natural hot springs and fascinating Māori culture. Get up early to take full advantage of the day ahead.
8. Auckland’s Wild West
For an adventurous day out, explore the gannet colony and the volcanic black sand beaches of Piha and Karekare by heading 40 minutes west of Auckland. These are some of the best beaches in Auckland. Climb Lion Rock or hike the Waitakere Ranges Rainforest trails to see unique waterfalls like Fairy Falls. Certainly, plenty to do here all year around.
9. Bay of Plenty
At some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, you can try all sorts of fun water activities, gorge on some tasty seafood and more. Just two hours and 25 minutes’ drive from Auckland, it makes an excellent day out for all types of travellers. You can visit one of New Zealand’s most active volcanoes and take part in lots of forest adventures, to name a few.
Drive three hours and 13 minutes to discover the natural wonders and take in the majestic views of Lake Taupo. Certainly, this tranquil haven is the best place to sooth your tensions in rare hot pools, embark on various cycling routes and partake in terrific adrenaline activities. Social media influencers will adore this picturesque place. Perhaps, go all out and make a weekend trip out of it.
The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings filming locations make one of the best day trips and one of the best things to do near Auckland this season. Just a two-hour drive from the city, get ready to explore Alexander family sheep farm, the 12-acre set of the Hobbit Holes and learn how the movies were made. Perfect for a family day!
📍 Matamata, Waikato, New Zealand
Just one hour and 30 minutes’ drive from Auckland, you’ll reach this stunning village. With a range of diverse activities, from golf to cliff walks to donkey rides…you won’t be left dissatisfied. Visit street food markets or fill your belly with wholesome chocolate truffles from the famous Bennetts of Mangawhai Chocolate Shop. Indeed, one of the best day trips from Auckland.