Five stunning spots for day trips in Auckland

Last Updated : 01 Nov 2023
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Throw a blanket, snacks and a Frisbee in the car, gather your friends and go. A day out in one of Auckland’s beautiful parks is the perfect way to unwind and reconnect. Think of it as maximum chill for minimium effort.

Here are some of our favourite places for those long summer days:

Shakespear Regional Park

This finger of land jutting out into Tīkapa Moana / Hauraki Gulf is easily our most-visited open sanctuary. Its proximity to Tiritiri Matangi Island means there are plenty of birds, with a 1.7km pest-proof fence keeping them safe. If you take a wander through the regenerating native forest, watch for tīeke (saddlebacks), hihi (stitchbirds) kererū (wood pigeon), tūī and korimako (bellbirds).

There’s plenty of parking at Te Haruhi Bay, which makes this the go-to beach for family gatherings and setting up camp for the day. It offers sheltered and safe swimming, which is perfect for kids, and has oodles of sandy space and views back to Rangitoto Island. End your day with a walk through Waterfall Gully to check out the glowworms.

Cornwallis (Pūponga Peninsula), Waitākere Ranges Regional Park

When we think about beaches, Waitākere Ranges Regional Park isn’t often top of mind. But if you’re looking for a spot to set up a picnic with a few friends, this gentle stretch of sand along the northern edge of Manukau Harbour is ideal. For a post-picnic wander, check out the 200m-long restored wharf on Cornwallis Beach, or head up to the highest point in the park for a great view back over the bay and to see the McLachlan Monument which commemorates Scottish settlers.

Cornwallis Beach

Cornwallis Beach

Long Bay Regional Park

Around 30 minutes from downtown Auckland, this regional park is hugely popular with Aucklanders as an easy family day out. There are barbecues available and space for large gatherings, so it’s not unusual to see a wedding party at this beautiful beach. Bring your snorkel too, as the park is also part of the Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve.

Waitawa Regional Park

With Instagrammable turquoise waters, this beach on the coast of Tāmaki Strait is just 10 minute drive from Clevedon and is the perfect place for kids to try stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking. Pull over at the Waitama Hill lookout for gorgeous views across Waitama Bay and the mouth of the Firth of Thames. 

Peterson Reserve, Panmure Basin

When the kids have energy to burn, Panmure Basin has a wide, sealed and mostly flat path that is pram-friendly and perfect for little legs on scooters. Peterson Reserve has one of three playgrounds you can discover on the 30-minute walk around the tidal estuary, and also offers miniature train rides, toilets, a car park, fitness equipment and picnic tables.

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