Tāmaki Makaurau comes into its own in summer with plenty of opportunities to get outdoors.
Fine warmer weather means exploring the region is a great way to spend a day.
With many places managed by Auckland Council, there are plenty of things to explore that are free and fun for all.
Ambury Regional Park
A great place for the whole family, Ambury was the only park in the southern hemisphere to win a silver award at the International Large Urban Parks Awards (2020).
A working farm lies in the regional park where families can get up close and personal with animals, including sheep, cows, goats, pigs, chickens and turkeys.
In addition to the farm the regional park is an important habitat for shorebirds and also has incredible examples of basalt lava flows from the nearby Te Pane o Mataoho / Te Ara Pueru / Māngere Mountain.
Āwhitu is the peninsula that lies to the south of the Manukau Heads and is worth making a day trip out.
Start by visiting the region’s southern-most beach at Karioitahi, a beautiful black sand beach just eight kilometres from Waiuku, before heading up to the northern tip of the peninsula and exploring the Manukau Heads lighthouse.
It is one of the few lighthouses in the country that is open to the public and if you are lucky you might spot dolphins in the water below or a boat coming into the harbour entrance.
The bar at the entrance to the Manukau is the site of New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster, the grounding of the HMS Orpheus.
Finish the day in the Āwhitu Regional Park where there is plenty of room to run around, wander the wetlands, cool off at the beach or use the barbeque facilities for dinner as you take in the views across the harbour at the city and the airport.
Auckland Botanic Gardens & Tōtara Park
For any avid gardener or those who simply enjoy admiring beautiful plants in superb settings, then Auckland Botanic Gardens is a must visit.
There are a number of themed gardens to admire self-guided trails such as the Biosecurity trail, or simply look to get some tips from the on-site experts while you are there.
Over summer there are a range of activities that will keep the whole family entertained as well, with multiple summer concerts, an artist in residence and the amazing pre-historic Dinofest to take in.
In addition, the Botanic Gardens are hosting ‘Better, Smarter, Greener’, a fun and informational module on site this summer designed by MOTAT that blends digital information with the natural world to explore the ways gardening may change in the future. Finish the day with a wander around Tōtara Park next door. With two playgrounds, a flying fox, and a swimming pool, there is plenty for the kids to enjoy at the end of the day.
If getting into nature is top of the list of things to do, then head to Arataki for a great day out.
The visitor centre is a good place to start with small exhibits, learning activities for the kids and very helpful staff to assist you whatever you need to know.
The viewing platforms and the lookout tucked just behind and above the visitor centre are definitely worth a look with spectacular views over the Manukau harbour, as are the majestic pou (post) and whakairo (carvings) adorning the outside and inside of the centre.
Head through the tunnel under the road to access the nature trail and learn how to identify the different trees and plants in our native forests.
Then wander down the hill to take in the awe-inspiring kauri cathedral, something that is well worth the short walk.
Alternatively, if a good workout is what you are after, try creating a loop out of the Beveridge, a part of Exhibition Drive, Pipeline Road and Slip tracks.
At just on six kilometres, and with the climb back up to Arataki along Slip track, this will really get the leg muscles burning if running it.
Parry kauri park
This park is an area of native forest in the heart of the Rodney district.
A good network of walking paths and boardwalks allow you to get up and personal with kauri while the Warkworth and District museum within the park showcases the pioneering history of the area including the kauri industry.
Two large kauri are the big drawcard in the park and are worth simply sitting under to take in their majesty.
While in Warkworth be sure to explore one of the regional parks nearby. With both Scandrett Regional Park and Mahurangi Regional Park about a twenty minute drive from Parry kauri park, there is plenty of time for swimming and walking some of the walks at either park.
If you are visiting please adhere to the rules and play your part in protecting our majestic kauri:
- Stick to the path.
- Use the cleaning stations whenever you pass one.
- Clean all shoes and walking equipment before leaving home and when you return.