Did you know that Auckland is surrounded by 48 different volcanoes? As a matter of fact, Rangitoto Island is home to the region’s youngest and biggest volcanic cone. It is also where you’ll find New Zealand’s largest pohutukawa forest and some of the best hiking trails in the area. Getting to the island is as simple as catching a 25-minute ferry from downtown. Rangitoto’s most popular walk heads directly toward the summit, and totals 4.6 kilometres (2.9 miles) in length. At its peak, you’ll be rewarded with a full panoramic view of the harbour.
Stony Batter Historic Reserve, Waiheke Island
Located on the eastern side of Waiheke Island, the short trek around Stony Batter Historic Reserve is a definite must for all World War II history aficionados. The two-kilometre (1.24-mile) walk combines the best of the island’s landscapes with a compelling collection of rocky outcrops and gun emplacements. While you’re there, make sure to check out the reserve’s extensive tunnels. As with Rangitoto, getting to the island is simple enough: there are ferries operating on a regular basis, every day of the week.
Breathtaking scenery, a trove of walking trails, and plenty of places to go swimming – those are some of the things that make the Hunua Ranges an attractive destination for trekkers, active families, and nature enthusiasts. It’s only a 45-minute drive west of Auckland city, offering well-kept tracks that effortlessly cater for all fitness levels. For those who don’t feel like doing a fully-fledged trek, there are shorter walks that will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. While you’re exploring the horizons, take the time to appreciate the 28-metre (92-foot) waterfall around you.
Tiri Tiri Track, Shakespear Regional Park
Shakespear Regional Park is located at the uppermost tip of Whangaparoa Peninsula – making it a perfect spot to get a glimpse of the Hauraki Gulf in its best possible light. If you’re keen to see a bit of native wildlife, the Tiri Tiri Track will be right up your alley. Birdwatchers, picnicking families and keen hikers all flock over to the regional park for a summer’s day trip. The Tiri Tiri Track is well-suited for all fitness levels: it’s only five kilometres (3.1-miles) long, and would usually take a couple of hours to complete.
Hillary Trail, Waitakere Ranges
The Waitakere Ranges is very much a west coast hiking paradise. Lush forested areas and a breathtaking coastline attract plenty of visitors to the area’s astonishing landscapes. If you’re looking for something more advanced, consider exploring Waitakere’s Hillary Trail. It is named after the famed Kiwi mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary – the first climber to reach the peak of Mount Everest. True to its namesake, the track is a whopping 70 kilometres (44 miles) long, usually taking four days to complete. There are plenty of campsites and accommodation options around – just keep in mind that, for the latter, bookings are essential.
Kitekite Track, Piha
For a milder experience of the west coast, you can’t go wrong with the Kitekite Track. Nestled within the Waitakere Ranges, not too far away from the black sand beauty that is Piha beach, this easy 1.8-kilometre (1.12-mile) track is ideal for a family outing. Discover the native bird and plant life, see the incredible Kitekite Falls, and make a quick visit to the Macrocarpa lookout to soak up the breathtaking vistas. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of some long-fin eels swimming by the waterfalls.
The Coast to Coast Walk
This is the best way to see some of the Auckland’s top urban attractions in the course of a single day. Because the city is built on an isthmus, you can walk from one end of the coast to another in a matter of six to eight hours. The 16-kilometre (9.9-mile) Coast to Coast trail has become a real hit for that reason – pick up a map from the local i-Site and head along on a self-guided, city-bound, trek. Places you’ll pass by include the Viaduct Harbour, Mount Eden, and One Tree Hill.
North Shore Coastal Walk
The white sandy beaches lining Auckland’s picturesque North Shore region are a true wonder for locals and visitors alike. The entire coastal walk is 23 kilometres (14.3 miles) long and is estimated to take seven hours to complete. Long Bay Regional Park is your point of departure. The walk then weaves into the surrounding suburbs, like Milford and Takapuna, until it reaches the historic village of Devonport. If you want to extend your trek, you can always catch the ferry onto the city to try your hand at one of the centralised walks.
Tamaki Drive Walk
One of the best ways to delve into Auckland’s harbourside setting is to make the journey to Tamaki Drive. This bustling 10-kilometre (6.2-mile) trail is very popular with runners, bikers and hikers, and covers some of the most affluent suburbs in the eastern part of the city. Auckland is renowned for its sailing culture, and this interesting walk will definitely give you your fill of the passing boats too. You can follow the path from downtown onto Tamaki Drive itself, where you will pass a number of beautiful beaches like Orakei, Mission Bay, Kohimarama and Saint Helliers.
Auckland City Heritage Walk
Auckland’s architectural and historic gems are pretty much hidden in plain sight. This easy inner-city walk provides visitors with insight into some of the wonderful heritage buildings all around. Choose from three different points – downtown, midtown, and uptown – and mix and match each walk to discover the area’s thriving architectural history. Places you’ll pass by include the waterfront, the Auckland Town Hall, and the Britomart Precinct.