Great Weekend Getaways near Auckland

Cathedral Cove on the spectacular Coromandel Peninsula is just one of the great locations within easy reach of Auckland
Cathedral Cove on the spectacular Coromandel Peninsula is just one of the great locations within easy reach of Auckland | © Robin Weaver / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Bianca Ackroyd
6 August 2020

Auckland, on New Zealand’s north island, is a bustling international city that’s home to more than 1.6m people. With the Tasman Sea on the west coast and the Hauraki Gulf and the Pacific Ocean on the east coast, there are many places to escape to for great weekend getaway.

Wine and dine in Matakana

Architectural Landmark
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© Ramunas Bruzas / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re looking for a tasty break just 40mi (66km) north of Auckland, Matakana has it all, from wine tasting to gourmet local food. Visit the weekend farmers’ market to stock up on the best organic produce, and enjoy lunch overlooking a vineyard in this beautiful region on the North Island’s east coast. You can have a swim in the Pacific Ocean at the nearby Sandspit and Snells Beach, or discover a world of large-scale outdoor artworks at the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, or at the Sculptureum gardens and galleries, a place that celebrates nature and creativity.

Look for stingray at Mangawhai Heads

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Horizontal view of rocks stretching from shore to rocky islet near harbor mouth in Mangawhai Heads.
© Daniel Poloha / Alamy Stock Photo

Head 65mi (104km) north of Auckland to the east coast’s popular weekend getaway of Mangawhai Heads and you’re in for a treat. Early Māori settlers named the area after a “stream of stingray” seen at the site, and you can still see stingray in the estuary and harbour today. With its fertile soil and abundant seafood, Mangawhai is home to pristine coastal fauna and flora, with native wetlands, rock pools, a naturally occurring harbour and sand spit. You can surf in the Pacific on the beachside of the heads, or in the safer harbour beaches, popular with kayakers and sports swimmers.

Go underground at Waipu Caves

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Under a glow worm sky - couple shining a light into Waipu cave filled will glow worms
© Marcel Strelow / Alamy Stock Photo

Further north from Mangawhai is Waipu, a friendly New Zealand town with Scottish history. Escape for a weekend and visit the Waipu Caves, an underground wonder of stalactites, stalagmites – and hundreds of glow worms. Spend the day at the nearby Waipu Cove in Bream Bay, a long, white-sand beach perfect for swimming, fishing and exploring coastal rock pools.

Explore beach wonders in the Coromandel Peninsula

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New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula is only 110mi (177km) from Auckland and is a great place for a weekend on the beach. Walk under the large rock archways of Cathedral Cove near Hahei beach or go snorkelling in the nearby marine reserve to see some of this country’s most spectacular marine reefs. Other adventures in the area include the extraordinary naturally heated water pools at Hot Water Beach, beautiful waterfalls at Owharoa Falls along the Hauraki Rail Trail (which, despite its name, is a dedicated path for cyclists), or hiking the Pinnacles Track overnight to see the sunrise over the Peninsula.

Climb Mount Maunganui in Tauranga

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View of Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, from Moturiki Island.
© travellinglight / Alamy Stock Photo

Head 135mi (218km) southeast of Auckland and you’ll discover Tauranga, the biggest city in a region known as the Bay of Plenty. It’s a perfect break for those who want somewhere beautiful but with all the comforts of an urban setting. Take a walk up the famous Mount Maunganui, where, at 232 metres above sea level, you can enjoy fabulous views across the entire region. And after all that walking, you’ll need to cool off with a swim in the delightfully warm waters of Pilot Bay beach.

Surf, climb and kayak in Raglan

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For those with a nose for adventure, just under 100mi (159km) southwest of Auckland is the Waikato region’s surfing town of Raglan. Known for its excellent surf breaks at Manu Bay – and also, crucially, for its high quality espresso coffee – Raglan is a vibrant town with loads of cafes and art galleries. For a casual swim, head to the dramatic black sand of Ocean Beach, or you can hike along one of the town’s popular trails, taking in the 55-metre high Bridal Veil Falls, or trying out the more difficult Te Toto Gorge track. Raglan is a great getaway option for thrill-seekers who want to go mountain biking, kayaking and canyoning all in one weekend.

These recommendations were updated on August 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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