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For further inspiration, we also recommend downloading the thl roadtrip app; free to download, this handy trip planning companion has everything you need to navigate your backyard like a pro.
Image source: The Kiwi Blog Bus
1. Tāpapakanga Regional Park
A beautiful coastal farm park, Tāpapakanga is home to a rich Māori and European history and offers an accessible, Pōhutukawa-edged beach on the western shores of the Firth of Thames. An easy hours drive from our Auckland depot, a visit to Tāpapakanga Regional Park will provide you with a peaceful escape to nature from the city. The highlight of this spot is the bay itself. Sheltered from the elements and perfect for swimming and fishing, this location provides lots of space for the kids to get out and stretch their legs.
Spend your time here completing the Tāpapakanga Regional Park Walk, an easy 6km walk that will take you around 2 hours to complete. The walk will take you through the native bush as well as farmland where you will see plenty of sheep and cattle. Break up your walk by enjoying a picnic in this little slice of paradise. If you are seeking an adrenalin rush, pack the bikes and explore the mountain biking options on the farm tracks.
With a dedicated campervan site, choose from locations on the Tāpapakanga Stream, and Kaparanui stream. Enjoy a peaceful night in nature listening to the birdsong and the sound of the waves as you fall asleep.
Image source: UrbanlistNZ
2. Maraetai Beach
If you are a lover of nature, scenic drives walk, and cycling, as well as experiencing fresh New Zealand air, oysters, fish, and chips, and enjoying a delicious flat white by the sea, Maraetai Beach is the perfect spot for you. Enjoy sweeping views that stretch from Auckland City to the Coromandel ranges as you walk along the beach walk from Maraetai Beach to Magazine Bay's wharf on the Pohutukawa coast. This walk will take you across white shell beaches and boardwalks.
If you're feeling more adventurous, take the short trip to Ōmana Regional Park and enjoy outstanding views of the inner Hauraki Gulf as you enjoy one of the farmlands walks to a pa site. Spend the night at the Cliff Top Campground at Ōmana Regional Park.
Image source: Stuff.co.nz
3. Āwhitu Regional Park
Located just 95km from Auckland, a little over an hour's drive lies the Āwhitu Peninsula. The peninsula is situated on the land between the Manukau Harbour and the Tasman Sea. Spend your time here exploring the Regional Park, wander freely over parkland pastures, explore the wetlands and enjoy the safe sandy beaches before having a picnic or barbecue at one of the shady spots. Āwhitu Regional Park has an abundance of terrific tracks and walks, and when the tide is right you can wander from Hudsons Beach around to Mako Points.
Another iconic part of the Āwhitu landscape is the Manukau Heads Lighthouse where you can connect with nature in a beautiful setting. Experience the serenity of the well-kept gardens, native bushes, west coast-flax before making the 125 steep ascent to reach the ‘eye’ of the lighthouse.
Image source: Locationscout
4. Whatipu Beach
Rugged and remote, Whatipu is the perfect place to escape the city and suburbs to connect with New Zealand's incredible nature. The beauty of this spot starts on the drive-through Huia The incredibly striking west coast black sand beach of Whatipu is located in an area amidst dunes, rocky cliffs, caves, and wetlands. Explore the Whatipu Caves Track to discover old sea caves that were once used as a ballroom by locals – pack your torch and go exploring. There is no surf patrol at Whatipu and the Auckland Council advises against swimming so be sure to take special care at this beach due to the currents and swell.
Make a trip to Karekare Falls, reached by an easy 5-minute walking track. Discover the beautiful Opal Pool Stream Cascade at the beginning of the track. If you are feeling a little more adventurous take the 30-minute climb to the top of the waterfall via the one-way Taraire tramping track where you will find a peaceful swimming spot.
The Whatipu campground is a secluded spot with plenty of spacious campsites for campervans as well as tents.
Image source: NewZealand.com
5. Muriwai Beach
Take in the beauty of Muriwai's rugged landscape and visit the famous cliff-top gannet colony, where around 1200 pairs of gannets nest between August to April. The viewing platform provides sweeping views far over the Tasman Sea. Walk along the boardwalk that hugs the coastline and enjoy the crisp air of the seaside from the wild waves and rolling black dunes. Keen for some adrenalin? Take a lesson at the local surf school, go mountain biking, or play a round of golf at the nearby course. The Muriwai Beach campground is large and spacious and in close proximity to the beach.
Image source: Travel and Leisure NZ
6. Shakespear Regional Park
Situated at the end of a narrow peninsula, Shakespear Regional Park offers incredible sweeping cliff top views and a beach along either side. Flop on the beach and lose yourself in a good book, or go exploring across farmland and through native bush to discover panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf and islands. Only 40 minutes from Auckland City, Shakespear Regional Park offers a peaceful sanctuary with magnificent views of the Hauraki Gulf.
Te Haruhi Bay has the largest and most popular beach, with wide grassed areas covered in shady trees leading down to the water's edge – it's the perfect place to lay down a mat and relax with a picnic or a book.
If you've got some energy to burn, discover the several walking trails. The Heritage Trail will take you through native forest, wetlands, and farmland to reach historic sites, including a World War II gun placement. The Tiri Tiri Track will take you from Te Haruhi Bay along the beach towards an old Māori settlement, before following the cliff line to views of Tiritiri Matangi Island wildlife sanctuary.
Image source: Auckland Asset Library
7. Tawharanui Regional Park
One of north Auckland's best-kept secrets, Tawharanui Regional Park is a must-see destination for anyone travelling the region. The road to Tawharanui heads east from the riverside town of Warkworth off State Highway 1. Make a stop in the rural area of Matakana, well known for its craft studios, vineyards, and cafes. The road from Matakana continues through farmland with sweeping ocean views and concludes with a winding gravel section.
Previously a private farm, the Tawharanui Regional Park covers the end of a peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. The long sandy beach on the northern side is labelled one of the best swimming and surfing spots in Auckland. Enjoy a picnic on the grassed areas above the beach, parked up under the shade of a Pohutukawa tree.
Tawharanui Regional Park boasts some of the region's most beautiful white sand beaches, rolling pastures, shingled bays, native coastal forest, and regenerating wetlands. An ecology trail starts at the far end of the beach, beyond a protected breeding area of New Zealand's very rare dotterel birds. Follow the trail along a rounded stone beach before the ascent through farmland to a valley of native forest.
If you are around at low tide, explore Anchor Bay Beach and the caves of the Flat Rock. Watch amazing rock pools forming as the tide goes out and try spotting crabs and shrimp. The pristine water at Tawharanui is ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
The drive to Tawharanui is about 80 minutes north of Auckland, there are tent camping sites as well as spots for campervans.
Image source: Tourism NZ Image Library
8. Te Haware-a-Maki/Goat Island
Goat Island, the local name for Cape Rodney/Okakari Point Marine Reserve, was the first marine reserve in New Zealand. The best way to experience this slice of paradise and its inhabitants is by getting straight into the water. With a mask and a snorkel, explore the sand and rocks close to shore while more experienced divers can visit areas a little further out.
As well as exploring underwater, on land, two coastal walkways will take you from Goat Island through coastal forest and offer incredible views of the coast as well as some quiet spots to hide away for a picnic. Rain or shine, there are numerous activities to keep everyone amused – discover marine science at the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre, visit Ti Point Reptile Park, or kayak, snorkel or take a boat trip at Goat Island to see the incredible marine life.
A day at Goat Island is so much more than a picnic at the beach and will leave you with some unforgettable memories.
Image source: Auckland Asset Library
Covering a wide stretch of white sandy coastline to the southeast of Wellsford lies Pakiri. A beach playground location made to enjoy by all with an abundance of beach activities and an incredible regional park.
Pakiri is a perfect spot for swimming, surfing, and kayaking, and you can even have a go at beach fishing to try to catch some dinner. While the beach stretches long enough for you to stretch your legs on, exploring Pakiri's Regional Park will offer you some incredible views from up high.
Have a go at horse riding, one of the activities this spot is best known for. Follow a trail through native bush and farmland before heading onto the beach for the rest of your ride.
Pakiri Beach Holiday Park is the perfect place to spend a night taking in the picturesque beachfront views.