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, and on a boring Summer weekend, venturing on one of the greatest New Zealand day trips could be the pick-me-up you need. From scenic mountain drives to beach adventures, we’ve found something for all ages to enjoy. And hey, you’ll definitely be able to make a weekend trip out of most of these 10 spots.
1. The Coromandel
Unwind at one of New Zealand’s finest destinations, 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, kayaking through the ocean, visiting the renowned Cathedral Cove Rock or Creek Railway, which is an old train ride in the mountains. You’re just two hours and 15 minutes away from this fantastic day trip.
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 your drop. Indeed, a quick and easy day trip near Auckland.
Rotorua is probably one of the most underrated places on the planet. This magical land is only a two hour and 40 minute drive from Auckland. Known as Sulphur City, it is renowned for its bubbling mud pools, breathtaking hikes, natural hot springs and fascinating Maori culture. Get up early to take full advantage of the day ahead.
This picturesque sight of carefully preserved world-class 1930s architecture is the greatest tourist attraction in Hawke’s Bay. Interestingly, a 1931 earthquake was responsible for this seaside resort, which gives you all the Great Gatsby vibes through its art deco facades, vintage cars and streetscapes. Perhaps, you could make a weekend trip out of this one if you’re not willing to drive the totally-worth-it four hours for a day of fun.
5. 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. Otherwise, have a picnic on the beach and practice surfing. There is lots to do here.
6. 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 take in all this enchanting coastal spot has to offer. 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, just to name a few.
7. 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 and much more. One of our favourite spots on Waiheke is Mudbrick Vineyard which overlooks the Hauraki Gulf and vines offering an iconic dining experience.
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 a great day trip and one of the best things to do near Auckland this Spring. 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. There are various types of tours on offer during the pandemic, although it’s best to check the Hobbiton Tours website for the most up-to-date information.
📍 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. Opt to lounge on the beach, 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 offering a pleasurable beach and foodie escape.