Psst you! Yes, you! It’s no secret Auckland is one awesome city full of equally awesome things to see and do. However, many of the city’s greatest gems are top secret. Discovering all these hidden nooks and crannies would take a lifetime. So, to help you out, we’ve rounded up the city’s best secret spots you must visit. Please note: All of these are hush hush so don’t tell anyone, okay?
Whether you’re in need of some zen or really like flowers, you need to visit Eden Garden. The peaceful sanctuary is like something out of fairytale. There are waterfalls, rock formations and more flowers than you can poke a stick at. It’s the perfect place to take your Tinderella. Stop by the cafe for some light snacks or really up the ante and book in for one of their legendary high teas.
Lake Wainamu is still a hidden spot that not many people seem to know about. It’s the perfect spot to spend the day picnicking, swimming and tanning with your squad. Pro tip: pack your Havaianas because the black sand is fiercely hot in summer.
Head to Chancery Square to escape the hustle and bustle of Auckland’s CBD. The cobblestoned oasis is home to boutique stores and delicious eateries. Unwind with a chai latte from Caffé Torino and a sneaky sugar high from Delish Cupcakes or Krispy Kreme will further fuel your downtown adventures.
O’Neill Bay is a little off the beaten track – literally. To access this rugged west coast beach, park your car at Bethells Beach and walk 2km along the Te Henga Walkway. The secluded black sand beach is heaven on earth. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, walk the entire walkway. The coastal views are spectacular #nofilterneeded.
For the ultimate date night head to Capitol Cinema on Dominion Road. The arthouse cinema shys away from Hollywood blockbusters in favour of film festival favourites. The lighting, décor and atmosphere are classier than your average shopping mall cinema and make the whole experience oh-so romantic. After the credits roll head across the road for post-movie dumplings.
When heading north this summer take a short detour to the bohemian village of Puhoi. If you’re like us and love all things cheese, have a rest stop at the Puhoi Valley café and cheese store. Alternatively, hire a kayak and enjoy a leisurely paddle along the Puhoi River.
The PumpHouse Theatre
While this one is a fave with the locals, it’s less known to those living south of the Harbour Bridge. Sitting on the shores of Lake Pupuke in Takapuna, the PumpHouse Theatre is a former water pumping station that has been converted into a unique theatre and arts centre. Visit during the summer months and enjoy Shakespeare plays performed in the outdoor amphitheatre. BYO blankets and pillows.
Karaka Bay is one of Auckland’s best-kept secrets. Located in Glendowie, it’s just a 13km drive from the CBD. The secluded beach boasts stunning views across the Waitemata Harbour towards Rangitoto. Set up HQ underneath a shady Pohutukawa tree and pass the day by swimming and picnicking.
Head to Awhitu Peninsula and make a day of exploring the southern gem. Here you’ll find cliff-top views worthy of an Instagram post, the Manukau Heads Lighthouse (which you can totally climb to the top of), white sandy beaches and rugged black sand beaches. Have an afternoon dip at Grahams Beach.
Gear up in your activewear and spend the day exploring West Auckland’s Moire Park. Start the day with a stroll through native forest along the Manutewhau Stream and then set up a picnic blanket near the sports fields and kick a ball around for the afternoon. You’re never too old for playgrounds and the one at Moire Park is among the best in Auckland.
While you're exploring, why not pitch up at one of these secret baches for hire.
Image credit: ATEED