You don’t have to journey far in any direction from Auckland to find adventure. Whether you’re after a winery-sprinkled island getaway, a dramatic black-sand paradise or world-class golf course, these epic day trips are all within an hour of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
For coastal scenery and wine trails: Waiheke Island
Taking just 40 minutes from the city by ferry, a visit to Waiheke Island means stepping into a haven of lush vineyards, pristine beaches, charming olive groves and eco adventures. Ananda Tours offers both private and shared group tours that showcase the best of the island, while those who’d rather go it alone will also be spoiled for choice.
Explore the beaches and hidden coves of the Hauraki Gulf aboard a 41ft catamaran with Terra & Tide or get right amongst the seabirds and dolphins with Kayak Waiheke. Prefer to keep to Waiheke Island’s cellar doors and rolling hills? Rent an e-bike through Bikes & Beyond and plot your route, dropping into Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant for local fare in a beautiful property or Te Motu for its Bordeaux-style reds. Thrillseekers can zoom through ancient forests by zipline with EcoZip Adventures.
For sampling local bites: Matakana Coast
Food lovers have long made the hour’s pilgrimage from downtown Auckland to this picturesque region, celebrated for its iconic farmers market, golden beaches and vineyards. Follow their lead and pick up supplies for a gourmet picnic from Matakana Village – if it’s a Saturday, take advantage of the Matakana Village Farmers Market (it’s zero waste, so be sure to bring your own basket or bags). Or book in for a farm-to-fork meal at The Farmers Daughter, where fresh-picked offerings might include Market Greens Toast served with miso onions, butter beans and mustard leaves.
On the Matakana Coast, exploration is encouraged – be it the whimsical gardens and sculptures of Sculptureum, the landscape and sculpture trail of Brick Bay or Heron’s Flight’s verdant vineyards – but if you’re time-poor, pop into The Vintry. It specialises in serving top drops from the region’s wineries as well as its burgeoning breweries and distilleries. Wines served by the glass rotate regularly to showcase the best local offerings.
For nature lovers: West Coast
One hour west of Auckland lies a world of cinematic black-sand beaches along with chardonnay and merlot-planted vineyards linked to some of New Zealand’s oldest wine families.
Hit the region’s high points in one go with Bush and Beach – each of its tour offerings includes inner-city transfers. A Karamatura bushwalk through ancient forest, black-sand Cornwallis Beach and a visit to Titirangi Village are included in their Wilderness Experience, while a lunch at Soljans Estate Winery with tastings at Westbrook Winery and Coopers Creek form the backbone of its Auckland Wine Country tour.
Keen to make it a longer stay? Hire some wheels from GO Rentals and take your time exploring the region and its lush forests.
For view seekers: Scenic hikes
Lace up your hiking boots and take note: wild coastal treks and volcanic hikes are as plentiful around Auckland as the landscape is varied.
Mount Eden, just minutes away from the city centre, is an hour-long, two-kilometre walk that rewards your efforts with panoramic 360-degree views over the city. A 25-minute ferry ride to Rangitoto Island allows hikers to climb New Zealand’s newest volcanic cone (at 600 years old, newness is relative here) on the Rangitoto Summit track. This two-hour, seven-kilometre walk is rich with lava caves and swim spots.
Along the west coast, just 40 kilometres from the city centre, the three-kilometre Ōmanawanui Track is slightly more challenging but well worth the climb for coastline vistas from the Waitākere Ranges.
Check Auckland Council’s map for the latest updates on all the regional tracks that are open for exploring.
For the golfer: Greens getaway
Pack your clubs and take your pick of the world-class golf courses sprinkled within easy reach of Auckland.
Nestled within golden sand dunes along the coastline, Te Arai Links is one of the country’s most spectacular golf courses, having opened to global acclaim. Golf Inc. magazine awarded its South Course as 2023’s private course development of the year; the North Course is due to open towards the end of 2023. Located a 90-minute drive (or 25-minute helicopter ride) from Auckland, it offers suites, villas and cottages for trips longer than a day’s outing and onsite activities for non-golfers such as massage or horse riding.
For more options and a change in course style, popular nearby public golf courses include the seaside links of Omaha Beach Golf Course and Mangawhai Golf Club, each within a 45-minute drive of your deluxe digs.
Image credits: Alamy (Westhaven); Peter Rees Photography (Waiheke Island); Steve Philip/Unsplash (Muruwai Beach); Todd Eyre/Courtesy of Tourism Auckland (Rangitoto); Te Arai Links.