Local Escapes

8 Of The Best Day Trips From Auckland When You Don’t Have A Car

By Urban List Writers
20th Apr 2023

Rotoroa Island is seen from above.

No car? No problem! Whether it’s the fact that nobody wants to be the designated driver or you just simply don’t have a car but are in the mood for a roadie, Aucklanders have a ton of ways to take a day trip without their own vehicle.

You’ll be surprised at how far you can go without your own four wheels so without further ado, here is a list of day trips from Auckland you can take when you don’t have a car.

Waiheke Island

People sitting at a rustic table with food and wine at Man O War, Waiheke Island.You don’t need a car to get the full experience of the glorious island paradise that is Waiheke Island. All you need to do is to get amongst the wine tours that this spot has to offer. Just a boat ride away, ferry over with either Fullers or as a foot passenger with Sealink and take a break from the city life of Auckland and immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery of Waiheke Island. You don’t even have to be a fan of wine to have a good time on this island as every corner you turn is pure beauty—we also have a list to help with that right here. Naturally, we also have a list of the best wineries in Waiheke so hop to it and get sipping.

Rangitoto Island

Day Trips From Auckland When You Don't Have A CarIf getting in touch with nature is the first priority of your day trip but you have no car to take you far, far away, Rangitoto Island is your best bet. Hop on the ferry and take a stroll up to the summit. You’ll get the most breathtaking views of Auckland and it’s always nice to see things from the other side. Don’t forget to snap a photo of you living a good life.

Motutapu Island

Day Trips From Auckland When You Don't Have A CarA small hidden gem but not any less beautiful than the other islands around Auckland. Did you know that you can actually walk from Rangitoto Island and find yourself at one of Hauraki Gulf’s oldest islands, Motutapu? This island is highly secluded and serene, absolutely ideal for when you need to find some downtime. At Motutapu, you’ll also find lush greenery and rich Maori and European history with the remains of the eruption of Rangitoto over 600 years ago.


A view from within a hobbit hole at Hobbiton, one of the best day trips from Auckland when you don't have a car.Who said you need a car to take a tour of one of New Zealand’s most famous movie locations, Hobbiton? You can book a tour where pick up and drop off from Auckland CBD is included and take a journey across the Shire from The Lord of the Rings. Not only do you get to soak in the beautiful atmosphere of Hobbiton and have a refreshing drink at the Green Dragon Inn but you also get to receive some behind the scene secrets of the iconic films. 

Bay Of Islands

The stunning Rainbow Falls in the Bay Of Islands.Get picked up from central Auckland and take a bus ride to the stunning Bay of Islands. Alternatively, make a weekend of it and nab yourself a boujee Airbnb and a two-day pass to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where you’ll get a guided tour and get educated on the rich history of New Zealand. The Bay of Islands has earned a reputation for being one of the top tourist destinations of New Zealand. The turquoise, crystal blue waters are not just there for admiration. The Bay of Islands has got all the facilities to encourage you to get amongst it and take part in activities from kayaking and diving and a car does not need to come into the equation.

Rotoroa Island

A stunning beach at Rotoroa Island.The newest wildlife sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf, Rotoroa Island promises Bay of Island-esque vibes, minus the long roadie and with a whole lot of native wildlife. The ferry drops you off in the morning and comes to collect you in the early evening so you’ve got a full day to revel in all 82.5 hectares of lush island life. Alternatively, you can hire a place to stay and make a whole weekend of it. Enjoy plenty of things to do to fill your time on this island paradise, with nary a four-wheeled vehicle in sight.

Waitomo Caves

People sit on a boat and gaze up at the glow wormsStargazing is one thing but have you ever gone glow-worm gazing? If not, you need to get on to it ASAP as it’s a must for everyone in New Zealand. Take a bus from Auckland for a guided tour through Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Not only do you enjoy a serene boat ride through the peaceful cave but you also get a look at the glowing worms that twinkle and shimmer all around the dark cave. But don't stop there, you can also tack on a visit to Rotorua famed for its geothermal activity and rich Maori culture. It’s a full-day experience that is truly worth public transport. 

Tiritiri Matangi

A kereru sits on a branch at the stunning Tiritiri Matangi island.Located 30km North-East of Central Auckland is bird lover’s paradise, Tiritiri Matangi Island. This untouched and well-preserved island is a haven for endangered and rare species which also includes our national bird and icon, the kiwi. At Tiritiri Matangi, you also get to channel your inner bird and learn the basics of bird-calling and you also get a guided walking tour. This full-day trip takes off from Auckland and is a must for not only bird lovers but everyone in New Zealand.​

Make a longer trip of it in one of NZ's best boutique campervans.

Image credit: Rotoroa Island by Fullers, Man O War by Auckland Unlimited, Rangitoto and Motutapu by Todd Eyere, Graeme Murray, Hobbiton by Miles Holden, Rainbow Falls by Northland Inc/David Kirkland, Rotoroa Island by Fullers, Waitomo Caves by Waikato Tourism, Alistair Guthrie, Tiritiri Matangi by Sylvain Cleymans. 

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.

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