Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.
Auckland is a fantastic starting point for any trip to New Zealand. Not only is Auckland’s airport the cheapest airport to fly to and from but the city’s also a great hub for many day-trips. The best thing to do is rent a car or van so you can feel what the true Kiwi road tripping experience is like.
There are so many things to do in the city, but if you want some ideas of places to see out of Auckland then here are six destinations that you should consider visiting.
Only an hour’s drive out of Auckland is one of the best local snorkelling spots. It’s a marine reserve which means strictly no fishing. There are so many beautiful creatures that you will get to see in the crystal-clear waters. You can hire equipment easily from the shops nearby and at the stalls on the beach, too. Make sure you bring a picnic with you so you can really enjoy the surroundings for the entire day. The best time to visit is late summer because the water is very warm and it’s when visibility is at its best. If diving’s not your thing you can also catch a glass-bottom boat so you don’t have to miss out.
If you love good food and wine then you’ll love Waiheke Island. It’s only a 45-minute boat ride from Auckland so it’s the perfect day-trip to get out of the bustling city. With emerald water and white sand beaches, it’s no wonder this is a popular spot for the stars! There are over 30 boutique wineries scattered on the island, along with many amazing restaurants and quirky art galleries, too. There are also many walking trails and lots of opportunities to go swimming and kayaking, so there really is something for everyone.
About a two-hour drive from Auckland is one of the most famous little villages in the country, Hobbiton. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings movies, then you’ll know all about this place already! Hobbiton is a movie set of the popular trilogy, which was filmed in New Zealand. On the two-hour guided tour you’ll be able to explore the famous movie set which is set on a picturesque farm. It’s well worth the trip from Auckland!
Six hundred years ago, Rangitoto Island emerged from the sea, making it the youngest volcano in New Zealand. It’s also home to the largest Pohutukawa forest, making it a top spot for hikers and walkers. It’s only a short ferry ride from Auckland Harbour. You can hike to the summit, which takes approximately an hour each way, see the black lava caves and enjoy the stunning views from the top.
Only a 40-minute drive from Auckland Central is one of the most beautiful waterfall walks in the region, Mokoroa Falls. You can do a couple of different walks here. If you opt for the longer one it will take about four to five hours. It’s an amazing day-trip from Auckland and a great opportunity to get back to nature and enjoy one of New Zealand’s hidden gems.
A two-and-a-half hour drive will lead you to one of the most spectacular places in the country, Waitomo. Below the hills of Waitomo lies a maze of mysterious caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The cave walls are decorated with galaxies of glow worms making it a top destination for many tourists from all over the world. You can do either a walking or boat tour to see the caves but if you’re really adventurous you can try blackwater rafting. You can also opt to abseil or zip-line through the dark! There is a lot to see here, including the Marokopa waterfall and the limestone natural bridge walk. For adventure lovers, this is one of the top places to travel to in the North Island and most definitely one of the top day-trips from Auckland.
Where to stay?
Verandahs Backpackers Lodge’s colonial housing makes for an elegant stay in an area full of great boutiques and bars. Nearby you’ll also find the stylish Haka Lodge Auckland. Meanwhile, right in the centre of town is The Attic Backpackers, a new, modern, clean and quiet hostel.
There is so much to do and see from Auckland. Which day-trip would you love to do? Tell us below!
Thanks to Goueg, 2il org, Tom Hall, Bernard Spragg. NZ, Shawn Huang, Florian Bugiel, itravelNZ® – New Zealand in your pocket™ and Tristan Schmurr for use of their great images under the Creative Commons license.