3 Top Day Trips from Auckland

ruakuri cave If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Auckland to see the rellies or conduct a bit of business, book in some time for pleasure. As well as being Kiwiland’s main business precinct, there are some beautiful Auckland accommodation options available as well as some of the best dining and wine-ing in the country. But if, like a lot of Kiwis, the city scene isn’t really your thing, Auckland offers easy access to some of the coolest places in New Zealand. Here are some of the top day trips you can take from Auckland that should rate highly on the to-do list of both Kiwis and overseas visitors.

Waitomo Caves

With a rich history dating back over 30 million years, the amazing limestone formations that are Waitomo Caves are a must-see. Nestled in the north, approximately 200kms from Auckland, the caves are easily accessed by hire car or coach, with bus tours departing Auckland CBD a couple of different times each day. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are the most internationally renowned of the 300 caves in the area. Visitors flock from all over the world to catch these amazing little creatures in action. One of the best experiences is gliding through the caves on a boat, as thousands of glow worms twinkle overhead. If you’re keen to ramp up the pace a little, the Waitomo Caves also offer some of the best black water rafting in New Zealand. Experience the thrill of three hours of rapid-riding underneath a glow worm lit limestone ceiling.

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is one of the best things about Auckland. Just a 35-minute ferry ride across the beautiful Auckland harbour and you arrive on one of the most stunning pieces of landscape in the North Island. With its abundance of beaches, farms and vineyards, and an esteemed arts and food scene, there is never a shortage of things to do. To make the most of what Waiheke has to offer, catch a 6 a.m. Fullers ferry from Quay Street and kick-start your morning with a walk or a cycle around the island, followed by coffee from any one of the amazing cafes. From there, pick up your hired transport — scooter, motorbike or car — and head to Stonyridge Vineyard for a spot of lunch and some wine tasting. Follow that up with a trip to Waiheke’s own microbrewery, also in Onetangi. From there, make a move to Top Knot Hill Vineyard in Oneroa, and then on to Mudbrick Vineyard for more wine tasting. Follow this up by talking a stroll along the beautiful Oneroa beach. You can then catch an early dinner at one of Oneroa’s amazing restaurants — Vino Vino Restaurant, The Oyster Inn or Wild on Waiheke. This will give you enough time to grab the 8 p.m. or 9.30 ferry straight back to Auckland city.

Waitakere Ranges

Just 25 minutes from Auckland you’ll find Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, home to over 250kms of hiking tracks through some of New Zealand’s most beautiful bushland. On any one of these walks, you will have the opportunity to experience the majestic kauri trees and get up close and personal to native New Zealand wildlife, including 50 native bird species, 11 types of native freshwater fish, over 500 native plant species and 3 species of kauri snail. Some of the highlights include the giant kauri snail, tui, long-tailed bat and green gecko. The richness of the landscape is incredible, and you can choose a walk of any level and length — from 10 minutes to a few days. Just make sure you pack a jacket, as the area gets over twice the amount of rainfall as Auckland each year!
Waitomo Caves Photo credit: 4nitsirk Foter / CC BY-SA

Susan DeGoldi

Susan is a proud Kiwi, living in the heart of Auckland's Western Suburbs. After a few years spent travelling the world for work, she believes there is no other place quite like New Zealand.