What’s up, long weekend? Big thanks for gracing us with your presence—it’s been a while. There’s no better way to welcome three days of no work than with a cheeky roadie. Lucky for us Aucklanders, some seriously beautiful spots are just a couple of hours drive away.
From quirky surf towns to foodie havens and nature getaways, here are seven beautiful road trips to take this long weekend. So update that road trip playlist, stock up on snacks, buckle up and hit the road.
Heading to the Coro this long weekend? Hit up the famous 309 Road. This 22-kilometre gravel road between Coromandel town and Whitianga takes you through bushland, along the river and past some of the most beautiful sites in New Zealand. Pop into Kauri Grove, check out Waiau Falls Scenic Reserve and Egan Park, spend time at The Waterworks and say hello to Stu and his 100 or so wild pigs. As for its name, it’s said to derive from the 309 bends or the 309-minutes it used to take when ye ol’ horse-drawn coaches were the only mode of transport. Either way, it’s a gorgeous piece of NZ road but you may need to exercise some caution on those legendary bendy roads.
Wanting to escape the city but don’t want to brave the return traffic this weekend? Take a day trip to Waipu. This speedy (yet slightly windy) drive takes just under two hours and is worth every minute. There’s everything from glow worm caves and stunning beaches to top-notch pizza and solid flat whites for those who need to fuel up before the trip back home.
The Pohutukawa Coast
Hands down one of the most beautiful coastlines in Auckland is the Pohutukawa Coast. From A-town, you’ve got two options: drive through Howick and Cockle Bay or take the southern route through Clevedon (stopping at the famous markets for some kai). Eventually, you’ll end up in magical Maraetai where you can embark on the loop walk or the longer Pohutukawa Coast Trail, taking you through the eastern suburbs. It’s hungry work so stop by this Beachlands gem before weaving your way back to the city.
Auckland’s beloved Waiheke Island is an easy car-less adventure but if you really want to take the island’s beauty in, it’s best to take your vehicle. Hop on the car ferry from Half Moon Bay, Devonport or Auckland City and get ready to see wonderful Waiheke in a whole new light. Hop between the vineyards and beaches, check out the historical Stony Batter and the stunning Man O’ War Vineyard. You won’t want to explore Waiheke without a car again. And for the sober driver? Here are 15 epic things to do on Waiheke that aren't drinking wine.
If food is the biggest love in your life (of course it is) then get your booty to Leigh this weekend. This one-hour drive will take you through Matakana where you can stop for some early-morning crepes, bacon butties and coffee before continuing along the gorgeous road to Leigh. Once there, the real feasting begins! Choose between the OG Leigh Sawmill Cafe for pizza and crafties or the stunning Sawmill Brewery for oysters, dumplings and other nibbly bits. If you’re more of a wine-o, hit up Matakana Estate for a leisurely wine tasting with delicious platters before hitting Goat Island or Pakiri beach for some toes-in-the-sand action.
Ah, the Mount. If you’re a JAFA yet to visit this beauty of a beach town, make this weekend the weekend you tick it off the list. Just a two-and-a-half drive from the City of Sails, Mount Maunganui caters for every type of road tripper. There are epic surf beach breaks, delish cafes, trendy boutiques and, of course, mighty Mount Maunganui (Mauao) itself. Tackle the 40-minute incline walk up and you’ll be rewarded with some gobsmacking views.
Another short yet stellar road trip is to the Awhitu Peninsula. It’s just an hour’s drive from Auckland but will provide everything you need from a classic roadie. Once you arrive there are mountain bike and walking trails, scenic picnic spots, vineyards and the Manukau Heads Lighthouse. Climb the 120 stairs and take in the one-of-a-kind views.
Sticking around? Here are all the rad things happening in Auckland this long weekend.
Image credit: Chris McLennan.