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The 10 Best Day Trips From Auckland for Fun Lovers

It is so easy arranging day trips from Auckland, and as the largest city in New Zealand, it is the perfect base to travel from each day. Located in New Zealand’s North Island, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Auckland, but a day trip can help escape the city’s hustle and bustle.

Discover glorious beaches, mountains, forests, waterfalls and rivers. Enjoy the great outdoors with walking, hiking, cycling trails and delight in wine tours and amazing dining options. Put your nerves to the test with adrenaline sports such as parachuting, white-water rafting and bungee-jumping. But most of all, immerse yourself in the natural elements that make New Zealand one of the best travel destinations in the world.

Ready to venture out of Auckland? Looking for some fun? Here are ten of my favourite day trips from Auckland for you to discover.

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Interactive Map of the Best Day Trips From Auckland

 

Bay of Islands Day Trip #1

Drive Time from Auckland to the Bay of Islands – 3 hours

Flight time from Auckland to the Kerikeri Airport Bay of Islands – 50 minutes

Guided Tour – Bay of Islands with Waitangi Treaty Grounds

The Bay of Islands comprises 144 islands and several beautiful boutique towns; Paihia, Russell, Opua and Kerikeri. A drive from Auckland will take around 3 hours but don’t worry; there are plenty of interesting places to stop on the journey. At the end of your drive, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the islands rising majestically from the sea.

There are many exciting things to do in the Bay of Islands on a day trip, both cultural and natural. Of course, being out on the water is the best way to experience one of the loveliest places in New Zealand. Hire a boat and sail yourself to one of the beautiful sandy beaches or join a dolphin cruise to get close to these fascinating animals. Speed freaks will love the thrilling jet-boat ride to the Hole in the Rock or the chance to experience the ultimate coastal day trip aboard a Sailings on The Rock cruise.

Back on dry land visit the Maori cultural centre at Waitangi Treaty Grounds and learn about New Zealand’s indigenous people’s history and traditions. Enjoy two museums, the Treaty House, carved Meeting House, carving studio and the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe to gain an insight into the people of Aotearoa: Land of the Long White Cloud.

View of the Bay of Islands

Rangitoto Day Trip #2

Ferry Time from Auckland to Rangitoto – 25 minutes 

Rangitoto Island is New Zealand’s youngest volcanic island at just 600 years old, and a speedy ferry crossing from Auckland lets you explore this fascinating island at your own pace. Rangitoto is one of the best day trips from Auckland for walkers and nature lovers.

Native flora, fauna and wildlife cover Rangitoto, and you get to climb a dormant (but not extinct) volcano and walk through the world’s largest pohutukawa forest. If you complete the Rangitoto Summit walk, you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views from the Summit Lookout to Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf.

In addition to walking and hiking, there are other enjoyable things to do on Rangitoto island ranging from a saltwater swimming pool, mangrove boardwalks and fern groves to explore.

View of Rangitoto volcano from Auckland

Waiheke Island Day Trip #3

Ferry Time from Auckland to Waiheke Island – 40 minutes

Guided Tour – Waiheke Island Wineries Tour

If you love wine, then Waiheke Island needs to be on your bucket list of places to visit in New Zealand. After a short ferry crossing from Auckland arrive on the island and get ready to have a fun-packed day exploring some of the best New Zealand wineries. Make sure to leave enough time to enjoy a sumptuous meal at one of the inspiring restaurants; you won’t regret it!

Waiheke isn’t just for wine lovers as it also has amazing walking trails and adrenaline sports such as zip-lining and mountain biking to take part in, so there really is something for everyone. You may feel one day isn’t enough for you and decide to stay overnight. With so many beautiful Waiheke hotels to choose from you will be spoilt for choice.

And don’t forget to pack your swimwear as Waiheke has some of the most sensational beaches in New Zealand.

View of Waiheke Island from the ferry

Day Trip to Piha #4

Driving Time from Auckland to Piha – 1 hour

Guided Tour – Piha Beach Day Trip 

One of the hidden gems on New Zealand’s North Island is Piha or Auckland’s Wild West, as it is known. With a rugged coastline, great hiking trails, unique wildlife opportunities and New Zealand’s most famous black volcanic surf beach, it is the perfect destination for a day trip from Auckland.

Adventurous day-trippers may like to scale the enormous dunes at Bethells Beach or hike the circular route to Kitekite Falls or Mercer Bay Loop Walk. For animal lovers, Tasman Lookout Track is a short but popular trail suitable for all skill levels and a great place for birdwatching. A trip to the gannet colony in Mariwai should also feature on your list of things to do in Piha during your day trip.

As the evening closes in, enjoy a cocktail, beer or dinner at one of the restaurants or beach bars in Piha while choosing which day trips from Auckland you want to discover next.

Piha Beach

Coromandel Peninsula Day Trip #5

Driving Time from Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula – 2 hours 

Guided Tour – Full-Day Coromandel Tour from Auckland

A day trip to the Coromandel Peninsula from Auckland will give you a taster of all the wonderful things to do in this beautiful coastal area. Away from the stunning Coromandel beaches, the large mountain range covered in ancient New Zealand forest makes a refreshing change from the city.

Head to Hot Water Beach and dig your own hot pool, yes you really can! Wander around the galleries and coffee shops in Whitianga before boarding a cruise to Cathedral Cove (made famous by Captain Cook!). Afterwards relax on Hahei beach before exploring Waiau Kauri Grove, famed for its towering Kauri trees and picturesque waterfall.

Cathedral Cove Beach in the Coromandel Peninsula

Mount Maunganui Day Trip #6

Drive Time from Auckland to Mount Maunganui – 2hrs 45 minutes

Mount Maunganui, known as “the Mount” by locals, is a seaside gem along the Tauranga coastline. It has sandy beaches for sun worshippers, watersports for the adventurous, and mouth-watering eats for food lovers.

It is a popular destination for Aucklanders to chill out and unwind. Day-trippers and those wanting to stay for longer will find plenty of things to do in Mount Maunganui. Hike to the Maunganui’s summit for sensational 360° views of the Bay of Plenty coastline or head to McLaren Falls Park, to discover glow worm caves, native forest and the best botanical collection of trees in New Zealand.

Want to relax after a hike? Head to Mount Hot Pools, the only hot ocean water complex in the world or join a dolphin and wildlife cruise before heading back to Auckland after the perfect day out in Mount Maunganui.

Mount Maunganui Beach

Hobbiton Film Set Day Trip #7

Driving Time from Auckland to the Hobbiton Film Set – 2 hours

Guided Tour – Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

No true Lord of the Rings fan could come to New Zealand without visiting the Hobbiton film set. Located in the countryside of Matamata this is another New Zealand bucket list adventure that needs to be seen to be believed.

Walk in the footsteps of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo and be guided around the village of Hobbiton. Find out about the filming of the trilogy and some behind-the-scenes secrets! Step inside a hobbit house and run down the pathway that took Frodo on his adventures.

During the day Hobbiton Film Set Tours can get extremely busy, so I opted for the Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour. Smaller groups, great photo opportunities without the crowds and the most delicious 3-course-banquet served in The Green Dragon. This is one of my most favourite day trips from Auckland and a must for LOTR fans.

Hobbit House on the film set at Hobbiton

Rotorua Day Trip #8

Driving Time from Auckland to Rotorua – just under 3 hours

Guided Tour – Day trip to Rotorua from Auckland

Rotorua is a stark contrast to Auckland and celebrates the captivating Maori culture and natural geological wonders of New Zealand. But get ready for the lingering odour of sulphur (eggy smell) that permeates through Rotorua; it really is strong!

Rotorua’s main tourist attraction is Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, spreading 18 square km across the geothermal area. Explore the colourful hot springs including the Lady Knox Geyser, Champagne Pool, Artist’s Palette, Primrose Terrace and boiling mud pools. Daily demonstrations of hot water and steam spouting from the geysers is fun to watch.

Apart from the thermal attractions, Rotorua has other interesting and fun things to do on a day trip worth checking out. Adrenaline junkies will love zorbing and parachute jumping activities while nature lovers will enjoy some incredible walks in Rotorua through native redwood forests and around the thermal areas.

Best Combined Rotorua and Hobbiton Day Trips from Auckland

 

Waitomo Caves Day Trip #9

Driving Time from Auckland to the Waitomo Glow Worm Cave – 2.5 hours

Guided Tour – Waitomo Glow Worm Caves and Eco Tour

Waitomo is one of New Zealand’s best natural attractions and is a great place to visit on a day trip from Auckland. Take a guided boat ride and marvel at thousands of magical glowworms lighting up the extensive cave system.

Learn how glow worms produce their luminescent light (you may be surprised!) and hear your guide bring the cave to life through the history and legends of the Maori culture. If you love caves, then you will enjoy the 2-hour guided underground tour of Ruakuri Cave. The longest guided underground tour in New Zealand showcases underground waterfalls and natural formations.

If you are brave, you will want to visit Aranui Cave with its colony of wetas. This is not for the faint-hearted as a weta is one of the largest insects on the planet!

waitomo underground cave

Taupo #10

Driving Time from Auckland to Taupo – 3.5 hours

Flying Time from Auckland – 50 minutes

Taupo is the longest drive from Auckland but can still be done in a day if you rise early. It is also a perfect destination to add to a New Zealand North Island Road Trip Itinerary.

Lake Taupo, the largest lake in Oceania, is the centrepiece of the town of Taupo. Take a lake cruise, do some watersports or hire a bike and cycle around the 10km Great Lake Walkway. For thrill-seekers head to Huka Falls and blast along Waikato River on a jet boat ride. Afterwards, head to Taupo Spa Thermal Park and enjoy a free dip in its swimming pool.

To really experience the beauty of Taupo a flight over the volcanic Mount Ruapehu will give extraordinary views. Or how about an 18,500ft skydive experience! Taupo really is one of the best places in New Zealand for adrenaline activities.

Tongariro National Park is just south of Taupo. Hikers will enjoy exploring its magnificent volcanic alpine landscape and will be able to ski on its slopes if visiting in winter.

Make sure to get a selfie at the #LOVETAUPO lettering which can be found on Lake Terrace before heading home. A nice momento of your day trip to Taupo.

View of Lake Taupo with #ILoveTaupo Lettering
Decorative Separator

Has this post helped you with choosing some ideas for day trips from Auckland? If it has let me know or have you got any of your own to add to the list?

Pinterest Graphic of Cathedral Cove

About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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Eunice Tan
3 months ago

This list is amazing! I’ve always known New Zealand to be incredibly beautiful but never thought that the landscapes are so varied. The Bay of islands might need more than a day with 144 islands! Hobbiton sounds positively exciting too!

Agnes
Agnes
3 months ago

New Zealand is still on my dream list. I’d love to see it. Therefore, I am reading this article with interest—great ideas for trips and valuable tips to help plan a trip. I would love to see Rangitoto Island, the youngest volcanic island at just 600 years old. I also add to my bucket list stunning Coromandel beaches and one of the hidden gems – Piha.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Agnes
3 months ago

I am really pleased that you found some day trips on the list that you would love to do. It is hard to pick favourites because they are all so wonderful but the 3 you have mentioned are good choices.

Cecilia
3 months ago

New Zealand has always been on our bucket list and topping our list of activities is Hobbiton! We just finished binge-watching all of the LOTR and Hobbit movies and what an amazing experience to walk on this film set! Still hope to go one day!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Cecilia
3 months ago

I hope you read my post on the Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour that will definitely make you want to visit!

Debra Schroeder
3 months ago

New Zealand is on my bucket list. I didn’t realize there were so many cool places to day trip from Auckland. Loved the handy sharable Google map and how you listed how long it would take to drive, fly, or take a ferry to each day trip. Can’t decide if the wineries or Mount Maunganui should be my first stop…

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Debra Schroeder
3 months ago

Glad you found it useful Debra. I would definitely head to the wineries!!

Sherianne Higgins
3 months ago

You had me at beaches and waterfalls. Bay of Islands looks gorgeous and worth the 3-hour drive. I really want to dig a hot pool on Hot Water Beach and check out the waterfall at Waiau Kauri Grove. Mount Maunganui is another spot I will need to add to my itinerary, I have always wanted to visit a glow worm cave and I’m curious about the hot water ocean. Great ideas!

Ummi Nadrah
3 months ago

I have pretty varied interests, so I think I would enjoy all of the day trips listed here. But I’m especially interested in the ones that I don’t get to see very often in my own country, like volcanoes and the glow worm cave. It’s amazing that all of these places are doable as day trips from Auckland.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Ummi Nadrah
3 months ago

Yes Auckland is very well placed as a base to explore the North Island.

Chloe Beaver
3 months ago

When I was in Auckland, Piha was by far my favorite day-trip! I loved the big rugged cliffs with hikes right on the beach. It was fun to watch the surfers as well. The wineries at Waiheke Island were a close second though. Your blog made me want to go back!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Chloe Beaver
3 months ago

I wish I were there right now! No virus and life is normal. One day I will go back for my third visit, there’s always something new to discover.

Anda
3 months ago

I’ve never been in Aukland, or New Zealand, by this token, but it’s very high up on my list. There seems a big array of beautiful places to visit around Aukland, so I’ll make a note of these for future reference.

Jamie
3 months ago

I love taking day trips from a central location when I travel, and this is a fabulous list for Auckland. I particularly love the iea of the wine tours on Waiheke or the Piha Beach day trip. In fact a lot of those charming beach trips are right up my alley, and each one looks more serene than the last. Plus, I imagine any trip to New Zealand for me would have to include a trip to Hobbiton.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Jamie
3 months ago

You are right, Hobbiton is a very unique place to visit and of course, there is nowhere else like it in the world. Auckland is a really good base to get out and see so many more great New Zealand destinations.

Shreya Saha
3 months ago

I have always wanted to visit NZ. Rotorua and Hobbiton are also in my bucket list. Auckland is an exciting place to visit from where you can actually go to such day tours. I am so glad to find these on your blog. Piha Beach trip looks so good. I am surely going to visit Auckland soon.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Shreya Saha
3 months ago

I hope you manage to make it to New Zealand at some time in the future. It is a beautiful country to visit and there is so much to do and see in Auckland.

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