Us Aucklanders love exploring. Whether we don our lace-up booties for a waterfall hike or actively search out Dominion Road’s best dumplings, chances are, you’ll see us with a map in one hand, selfie stick in the other and a mind (and belly!) full of intrigue and wonder.
No matter the time of year, you just can’t beat hitting the beach or tinkering about their surrounding towns with an ice cream in tow. Come rain, hail, wind or shine (who trusts the forecast anyway?!), you can guarantee to find us discovering new delights and documenting them all on social media, because, if you didn’t take a photo, did you even go?
To help banish those ‘what do we do this weekend?’ dilemmas, we have rounded up seven beach towns to set you on your way!
Chances are, you may have already seen a piccie or two of this East Auckland pier boasting views of stellar sunsets and crystal-clear waters on your Insta feed, without knowing where it actually resides. Forget your frantic Google searches peeps, we’ve got you. Well, more specifically, Maraetai has. Perfect for visiting with the whole family or crew, visitors of this seaside town can enjoy an abundance of activities and a heap of incredible vistas to go with. Squeeze into those Speedos for a spot of swimming, get your hike on at one of Omana Regional Park’s loop tracks, take the boat for a spin or, take the infamous Beachlands to Maraetai walkway and put that active wear to the best use poss!
It’s not all about Auckland CBD, ya know. There are only so many times you get snap happy with the Sky Tower after all. If you are looking for new exploring opportunities and fancy a slice of the west, jump in the car and get ready to get your Titirangi on! This Auckland ‘burb is a haven for all things artsy, foodie and adventure. Mingle in the Titirangi market and fill your basket with homemade goodies and gifts and practice your best pondering pose for a stroll around the surrounding art galleries and studios. Get your grub on at Stripe Cafe (maple bacon doughnut balls, we’re looking at you!), or opt for treetop dining at Iti. Happily full, burn it all off as you take to the Waitakere Ranges for some good old fashioned tramping. Pass the scroggin!
So you may have heard of this one, but have you actually taken the plunge and visited this North Auckland gem? Didn’t think so! Leigh is the place where all of your Finding Nemo dreams can come true! Full of marine life and diving opportunities, strap on a GoPro and your wetsuit and delve deep into the coral life. Don’t wanna get your tootsies wet? Hop on board the infamous Glass Bottom Boat to see the entire cast of The Little Mermaid in their natural habitat. If the big blue isn’t for you, tie up those laces and hop to the surrounding coastal walkways. With Matheson Bay bush and Mt Tamahunga on Leigh’s doorstep, you’re truly spoilt for choice with breath-taking treks and hikes. Finish your adventures with a visit to Leigh Sawmill for their infamous gourmet pizza washed down with a cold one.
Surf’s up dude! Keep your hand in a permanent ‘shaka’ position, wax up that board and get ready to ride the waves in Raglan! Hounded as the ultimate surfing mecca, lovers of the sea are in ultimate paradise when visiting this western spot. If you haven’t quite mastered how to stay on your board and frankly don’t have the patience, never fear, there is much, much more to do here. Whether it comes in the form of horse trekking, tramping, water cruising or simply munching and brunching your way around the delish selection of eateries and cafes, Raglan is slowly becoming our top day trip destination!
Only a forty-minute drive from central Auckland lies Wenderholm. With its golden sands, bountiful greenery and bush lands and a tonne of activities to get stuck into, this makes for one of the loveliest day trips out there. Perfect for the entire fam a lam, we recommend packing a picnic, whatever the weather and taking the day to truly soak in this beautiful location. Bask on the beach, take a dip if you dare and explore the native surrounding forest which leads to the most incredible views of the Hauraki Gulf at the top. Back on flat ground, wander through the historic grounds of Couldrey House and gardens and frolic around like a scene from the Sound Of Music!
It would be pretty hard to write about Waiwera and not mention the hot pools, really. With its main claim to fame being the hot water springs, the water park is New Zealand’s biggest and attracts visitors from far and wide. After a dip in the pools, dry yourselves off and get ready for an afternoon of making like Dora and getting that explore on. Take part in a spot of game fishing, horse riding or bushwalking—the choice is yours! There’s also a sandy stretch of beach bordering the town which makes for picture-perfect swimming and sun-bathing. Your weekend is well and truly sorted!
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Image credit: Paul Abbitt