The Waitakere Ranges is composed of more than 16,000 hectares of native forests and coastlines. In the parkland you’ll find a myriad of walking tracks, waterfalls, rugged outcrops and rocky cliffs. Not only that, but some of Auckland’s most beautiful beaches, including Piha and Te Henga/Bethells, are located right within the park itself. Some of its walking tracks are currently closed to allow the forest to heal itself from Kauri dieback disease.
The Waitematā Harbour is the main sea access point to Auckland city. Because of this, it is also known as the Auckland Harbour — though it is one of two in the isthmus (the other is the Manukau Harbour). Scenic highlights along Waitematā include the Auckland Harbour Bridge, parts of the Hauraki Gulf, the Meola Reef and the city’s Viaduct Basin.
A family-friendly regional park that is adored for its stunning white sand beaches, rolling pastures and native coastal forests. You’ll find it nestled among a remote peninsula within a 90-minute drive north of Auckland. Tāwharanui is also known for housing many archaeological sites, including five pā (ancient Māori fortification sites), various shipwreck remains and fossils for 18 different species of shellfish. The park’s marine reserve is also quite a good spot for diving and snorkelling.
Waiheke is the second largest island on the Hauraki Gulf. Being just a 40-minute ferry ride from central Auckland, it is also a favourite day-trip destination for locals and visitors alike. The island is particularly renowned for its viticulture, the beautiful beaches, an artsy flair and a few adventurous experiences like hiking, cycling and zip lining thrown into the mix.
Another beautiful spot within a short ferry ride from the central city. Named after England’s Devonport Naval Base, the harbourside suburb hosts the Royal New Zealand Navy, which is the country’s main naval vessel facility. But truth be told, the area is best renowned for its Victorian village charm, and its upscale cafes and restaurants. Hikers and war history enthusiasts also visit Devonport to view the North Head Historic Reserve from up close.
The affluent inner-city suburb of Parnell is Auckland’s oldest — and arguably one of the most stylish. French-style bistros, hip cafes and all kinds of restaurants and boutique outlets line the village streets. For the art and history lovers, there’s a collection of small galleries to browse as well as the lovely Parnell Rose Gardens, the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Auckland War Memorial Museum at the Domain — the latter of which is the ideal place to learn a bit more about Māori history.
As the oldest park in the city, the Auckland Domain boasts 75 hectares of beauty. As a testament to its uniqueness, the park is built around the cone of an extinct volcano. Besides the aforementioned museum, the Domain is home to the historic Wintergardens, which showcase a spectacular display of rare plants from around the world, as well as lush walking tracks that are embellished by a trove of interesting art installations.
A walk up the Maungawhau/Mt Eden Summit will reward you with some of the best panoramic views of the city and its harbours. With a height of 196 metres (643 feet), this is Auckland’s highest volcano. Within the summit’s cone, there is a massive crater that’s approximately 50 metres deep (164 feet) that is bound to amaze all those who see it. There are several walkways to get you up to the summit, and the walk itself should take 5–10 minutes to complete.