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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?