There’s nothing more picturesque than a mid-morning coffee and pastry on a park bench. For the full whammy, add a dog-eared Penguin classic and a picnic rug. Yep, from quiet picnics to screaming kids, parks really do have it all. Although we may not have NYC’s Central Park on our doorstep, or the Champs Élysées down the road, us Aucklanders need not fret. We've got a pretty impressive array of parks scattered around the city.
From West Auckland to the North Shore, here's a list of the 15 best parks Auckland has to offer. FYI: That holiday leave you have stashed up may come in handy after all—park tour anyone?
Kicking off the list with none other than Rocket Park, arguably the most iconic little rocket ship in Auckland. A kingdom for children, let Albert Park take the wee ones off your hands for the afternoon while you lounge on ya picnic rug in the sunshine. Be warned, they may come back thinking they’re the next Lance Armstrong.
Chelsea Heritage Park
Needing a Kiwiana fix? The Chelsea Heritage Park is for you. From native trees like manuka and kauri to a range of exotic and native birds, including the New Zealand wood pigeon, this Heritage park is a pretty special space. For you fitspo bunnies, the walking tracks offer a great alternative to the daily gym grind, and to make things better, the bordering Chelsea Sugar Factory means there's a smell of sweetness lingering around. Yum.
Offering a range of walks, from 25-minute strolls to miniature hikes, Totara Park is a favourite among Manurewa locals. With mountain bike trails on offer too, it’s a great park for you Sunday sport lovers. What’s best is that it borders the Botanic gardens, meaning after your walk you can take a stroll through the luscious flower fields.
Oh Cornwall Park, how we love you. This may just be Auckland’s best park, filled with happy-go-lucky park-lovers on picnic rugs, either in exercise gear or just straight up chillers. You’ll find a bit of everything here. With cafes and bistros set to impress the finest of diners, plus one seriously cute ice-cream shop, you could spend days here and not get bored. Pro tip: a walk up to the summit gives you a view over Auckland’s entire landscape. Pretty frickin’ cool, right?
The car park alone offers impressive views over Manukau harbour, but make sure you venture out of the car too. Perfect for dog owners who have a pup that’s keen to play, Waikowhai Park offers a large off-leash dog area. There’s also a standout playground with a pretty epic flying fox, and the park itself is ideal for an afternoon picnic.
Running parallel to upper Queen Street, Myers Park is sometimes referred to as Auckland’s oldest park. You’ll find students lounging around, text books in hand, as well as businesspeople enjoying their lunch in the sunshine. With paths crossing the park connection to K Road and Aotea Square, it’s very much an inner-city meeting point. We like to pack lunch and our favourite rug and chill for a few hours in the heart of the city.
Boasting a fab array of recreational activities, Craigavon Park is perf for walkers, dog owners, babies and everything in between. There’s also a damn cute BBQ area, which will take your picnic up a few notches! P.S. Make sure you save a few pieces of steak for ya pooch or you’ll have one sour dog in the backseat on the drive home.
Big King Reserve
Another park that's perfect for dog owners, Big King Reserve seems to host everyone that's TC to walk up Mt Eden. With the bustling cafe Orvieto out front, it’s likely your coffee will still have some heat by the time you make it to the top. That is if you’re not walking at 2KM per hour…You’ll find ya pooch might make it to the top before you do.
Half park, half beach, this treasured spot in Puhoi is our fav way to spend a summer's day, preferably with an ice cream and some good convo. With a campground on site, why not spend a few days exploring the treasured forest? Known as a slice of paradise just out of the city, this proves you don’t have to drive far to escape the craziness. FYI: There’s a killer ice cream store in Puhoi that has your name all over it.
The Rose Garden’s
Promise we’re not bias, but this may just be the prettiest walk in Auckland. Perfectly kept grass, vine-woven pathways and the smell of fresh flowers. It really is a gem. There’s not a heap of space, but it is a great location for those wanting some quiet to themselves. Afterwards, head to Parnell’s favourite cafe, Rosie, for a delicious meal.
Point Erin Park
St Mary’s Bay
Otherwise known as the Westhaven Loop Walk, this beautiful track takes you right down to the viaduct and through the heart of Auckland. Perfect in the summertime for an outing with your bestie, we’re not sure if you can beat a catch up over good coffee and an even better walking track. The pedestrian bridge over the motorway also makes for a super cute photo-op.
Home to some of the greatest markets around, we’re not sure if you can call yourself an Aucklander without a visit to Victoria Park. Don’t worry, we’re not forcing you to hit the skate park close by, but if cricket or rugby is your jam, then you’re bound to catch a good game at Vic Park. Whether it's kicking a ball around for the afternoon or settling in with a rug and basket, this is an idyllic spot to spend the day.
Known as a sanctuary for both people and wildlife, Western Springs Lakeside Park has a tranquil feel to it. With water lilies in the ponds and blossoming gardens surrounding the park, this is one the French would be proud of. The best bit? You're only a short walking distance from the Auckland Zoo, MOTAT and the renowned Western Springs Stadium.
Little Rangitoto Reserve
Located in the heart of Remuera, this popular park screams kid zone. With a circular swing, jungle gym, slides, flying fox and a skateboard bowl, your little ones are sure to be entertained for the day. That leaves you free to head to the Benson Road Deli to pick up the picnic supplies and find a spot on the grass. Little Rangitoto Reserve was once a volcano before it was quarried away, so if you’re one for history you might get your thrills exploring this spot.
This may be Ponsonby’s cutest park. Small in size but totally frickin’ awesome. A little playground, skating ramp and ample area for your dogs to enjoy. Ponsonby locals just can’t get enough. Morning walks around the park just got a whole lot easier. (Takeaway flat whites are of course, part of the ritual).
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Image credit: Urban List