Escape The City With 10 Epic Regional Parks To Explore Around Auckland

By Bella Askelund
18th Feb 2020

Stunning Regional Parks To Explore Around Auckland

Auckland City, we love you like our 5pm glass of vino—you’re perfectly equipped in every way and we’re pretty damn lucky to have you. So please don’t be offended by what we’re about to say, because sometimes we just need to have our ‘me time’ away from the hustle 'n' bustle. This is when we like to breathe air a little less congested, smudge our toes in untouched sand and feel like a full-blown kid again. Hence why we decided it was officially time to share our secret to living life as the ultimate Aucklander: get out of the city as often as you can.

Unexpected we know. We’re asking you to kiss a momentary goodbye to high rises and shopping malls and whip out your inner Kiwiana. Salty water, sandy toes and acres of green land. So here’s a list of the perfect spots to visit when you want to go temporarily nomad—or maybe you’re just craving a boozy beach day with the crew… Either way, we’ve got you sorted.


West of Auckland

Whatipu has a stunning black sand beach and is an absolute West Coast gem. Situated at the southern tip of the Waitakere Ranges, this beautiful spot is very much off the beaten track—you’ll feel as though you’ve been magically transported to another world. Make a weekend of it and set up camp at the Whatipu Lodge Campground. From here, there’s an abundance of walks including the Omanawanui Track with breath-taking views of the Manukau Harbour and beyond. Bring a torch because there are also caves to explore—legend has it sailors held dance parties here in the 1920s.


North of Auckland

You’ve probably seen snaps of this gem on your Instagram feed. Or heard stories of the riskaaay road in and out of Tāwharanui…either way, people continue to take the trip for a reason. It it B-E-A-UTIFUUUL. An open beach with clear blue water, this is the spot for a day trip filled with good vibes. Pack the car with your favourite people (yep we have favourites sorry), a few packets of chips and dip, perhaps a little alcohol even and soak up the feels at Tāwharanui. Pro Tip: Sorry to sound like your mum, but if you’re driving, you aint drinking!


West of Auckland

The cutest little community if we do say so ourselves. This is the type of place to find your inner nomad because once you visit Muriwai, you won’t want to leave. The locals may just be the friendliest people on earth, the fish 'n' chip shop is worth breaking the diet for and the surf culture is so dominant you’ll be searching for the hire shop. Pro Tip: Don’t wear white… This black sand beach does not do justice to those all-white Stan Smiths pics, sadly.

Shakespear Regional Park

North of Auckland

Hidden at the tip of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula is Shakespear Regional Park—(basically just drive along the coast until you can’t drive no longer and wahlaa, there it is). Whether you’re visiting the beach, to visit the sanctuary or committing to one of the many hikes on offer, this is a spot for the whole family to enjoy. Safe and secure, you’ve got the beach on either side of you yet a mountain scape so beautiful even those who hate walking will seek the adventure. We love heading here with a picnic rug and a portable speaker and seeing where the day takes us. Pro Tip: Head here after a morning spent indulging at the Matakana Markets.

Long Bay

North of Auckland

It’s called Long Bay for a reason, this beach just goes on and on and on—in the best kind of way. This is the perfect place for a day trip not only because of the beautiful scenery and short drive from Auckland, but because of it's expertise in providing shade. You know when you head to the beach just hoping to soak up some rays but there’s without a doubt that friend who turns beetroot after ten minutes… Well Long Bay is their saviour thanks to the shady grass banks. Pro Tip: Bring a frisbee or a beach ball for something a little extra to do.

Walking in the Hunua RangesHunua Ranges

South of Auckland

Equipped with streams, waterfalls and magnificent views, the Hunua Ranges is a natural playground for adventurous Kiwis. The park is the largest native forest in Auckland and the waterfall is an absolute treasure. It is perfect for a family outing with a picnic filled with goodies, or equally ideal for those wanting to mix up their exercise regime and head out for a walk through the ranges. Bear in mind though that due to Kauri dieback, many tracks have been closed so check before you go. Pro Tip: Swimming in the waterfall isn’t allowed so don’t get too sweaty on ya walk!


West of Auckland

Another safe haven nestled within the Waitakere Ranges is Karekare—a coastal black sand beach with some crazy waves. What’s so idyllic about this place is that no matter how warm and delcious the weather is, it is never over loaded with people. This means you can spend your beach day not fighting for towel space, competing over others' music and bumping into random limbs in the water—finalllly a little space. Just a short drive from Piha, we like to spend the day at Karekare until the stomach starts rumbling, then head to our friends at the Piha Shack for burgers, hot chips and ice cream. Pro Tip: The hot chips are 100% a must try, smothered in tomato sauce for a classic Kiwi experience.


West of Auckland

Among regulars Anawhata has become known as West Auckland's ‘secret sunset spot’. It can only be reached by foot, so climb your way to the top of the hidden waterfall and wait for the sun to shine its magic. Saying the sight is picture perfect would be an understatement (seriously), so be sure to bring your camera and capture that evening lighting. If you’re not up for the extra adventure, just perch yourself on Anawhata’s open hills with your SO and settle in for a romantic evening. Pro Tip: Find an SO who can play the guitar so you can have a good ol’ fashioned sing-a-long to set the mood.

Te Arai

North of Auckland

Though not technically a regional park, Te Arai makes our list because it's famed for its beautiful beaches and spectacular scenery, and is basically a spot to treasure. With white sand draping every corner of the beach, a summer picnic here is an absolute necessity. Roll out the picnic rug, unpack the cheese board and pop the cork on that champagne bottle—this is the beach to soak up sunshine in the finest of fashions. With lifeguards on duty and waves rolling in, make sure you go for a dip in this fresh New Zealand water. Pro Tip: Sneakily spy on the surfers as they do their thaaang in the distance.

Can't get enough of the sandy stuff? Here's the ultimate guide to Auckland's best beaches.

Image credit: Rowan Nicholson, Muriwai and Hunua Ranges by Chris McLennan

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