Activities & Itineraries

7 Off-The-Beaten-Track Finds Totally Worth Driving To

By Natasha Van Der Laan
2nd Aug 2018

7 Off-The-Beaten-Track Finds Totally Worth Driving To

While we love exploring the corners of Auckland City, we’re always up for a road trip further afield. The wider region is brimming with off-the-beaten-track finds. Think: remote beaches, sculpture gardens, regional parks and—most importantly—epic food.

To help us get out of town and explore more corners, we’ve partnered with the new MINI Hatch. More fun than ever, the iconic car is great for Auckland’s urban streets and beyond—it feels like you’re driving an exhilarating go-kart. It’s decked out with all the cool stuff like Navigation Plus Pack (so you don’t get lost) and MINI Connected (so your tunes are on point). We’ll have one in each colour, thanks!

So for your weekend inspo, we’ve rounded up our fave spots to get in the car, wind down the window and hit the road.

Whatipu Beach


You know what they say: west is best. This can be said for Whatipu and its breath-taking beach. The remote spot showcases the West Coast at its finest with toasty black sand, rugged coastline and moody surf. The waves are a lil hectic and there’s no surf patrol so leave your togs at home and opt for walking shoes instead. You’ll find a range of walking tracks including a 45-minute return track to the famous Whatipu Caves.

The Hunting Lodge


A leisurely Sunday (or weekday) drive away, The Hunting Lodge sits pretty in Waimauku—a hop, step and a jump from Kumeu. The destination restaurant is situated in a historic villa surrounded by vineyards and farmland—dreamy! The seasonal menu showcases a farm-to-table philosophy with ingredients sourced from the on-site garden. Be sure to order the unmissable charcuterie board with house-cured meats and freshly baked bread.

Tawharanui Regional Park


Jump in your MINI Hatch, buckle up and blast a Spotify playlist—you’ve got an epic road trip ahead of you! Tawharanui Regional Park is one of Auckland’s best-kept secrets with sandy white beaches perfect for swimming, surfing, sunbathing and everything in between. There are also biking tracks, bird watching and two campgrounds so you can make a weekend of it.



Let’s be honest: no road trip is complete without mouth-watering eats. That’s exactly what Riverhead’s famous Hallertau Brewery is known for. Here you’ll find a sun-drenched biergarten (translation: beer garden) serving wood-fired deliciousness. Visit with your squad and graze the day away on wood-fired pizza, braised lamb shoulder, beer-brined pork belly and an epic cheeseburger.



There’s a lot to love about Matakana and Sculptureum is one of those things. The park is home to three sculpture gardens, six galleries and a vineyard—yep, it’s a total culture hub. The sculptures are quirky (and Instagrammable) showcasing giant pink snails, vibrant tulips and even a mammoth green rabbit. Visit over lunch and enjoy a long lunch at the incredible on-site restaurant, Rothko.

The Piha Café


The road to Piha is a fun one with all its twists and corners. The MINI Hatch is perf for tackling the drive with its go-kart handling—the drive there is half the fun! On arrival, visit The Piha Café for a mouth-watering meal worth Instagramming about. This café is popular with both locals and surfers alike and—side note—serves some damn-good pies. Nab a table outside on the spacious deck and soak in the ocean vibes.

Sawmill Brewery


Last and in no ways least, Sawmill Brewery is totally worth the drive. Moving from Leigh to Matakana in 2016, the popular brewery is also home to a mouth-watering restaurant. They serve dishes designed to be shared with a focus on local, sustainable and free-range produce (on ya, Sawmill). Expect the likes of turmeric-spiced hummus, barbecue pork croquettes and spicy venison ribs. Tummy rumbling yet?

Did someone say road trip?! Book a test drive in the new MINI Hatch—it’s perfect for exploring the corners of Auckland and beyond.

Editor’s note: This article is proudly sponsored by MINI and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.

Image credit: Jared Donkin, Rowan Nicholson and Lydia Arnold

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