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Best Day Trips from Auckland for Fun Lovers

Best Day Trips from Auckland for Fun Lovers

Are you visiting New Zealand and want ideas of some fun Auckland day trips you can do? This post has the answers! From self drive day trips from Auckland to guided day tours with small groups, you will find the perfect day trip from Auckland to suit you.

It is so easy to arrange day trips from Auckland Central, and as the largest city in New Zealand, it is the perfect base to travel from to other parts of New Zealand’s North Island.

And while there are plenty of amazing things to do in Auckland, 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, and cycling trails and delight in wine tours and mouthwatering 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 the best Auckland day trips to discover.

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Map of the Best Day Trips From Auckland NZ

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 Day 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 along the way.

At the end of your drive, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the islands rising majestically from the sea.

On a day trip, there are many exciting things to do in the Bay of Islands, 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 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.

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 short trips from Auckland and is perfect for walkers and nature lovers.

Native flora, fauna and wildlife cover Rangitoto, and you can 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, Waiheke Island must be on your bucket list of places to visit in New Zealand.

After a short ferry crossing from Auckland, arrive on the island and prepare for a fun-packed day exploring some of the best New Zealand wineries.

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; 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, 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

One of the best short drives from Auckland is Piha on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

It is in Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, nicknamed Auckland’s Wild West.

With a rugged coastline, great hiking trails, unique wildlife opportunities and New Zealand’s most famous volcanic black sand surf beach, it is the perfect destination for a day trip from Auckland. It also makes the list as one of New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches.

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 an excellent 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 30 minutes 

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 extensive mountain range covered in ancient New Zealand forest makes a refreshing change from the city.

The Coromandel is a great place for family day trips from Auckland, as it has a good balance of fun things to do.

Head to Hot Water Beach and dig a hot pool; it’s one of the must-do experiences in New Zealand!

Wander around 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 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

Small Group Tour – Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

No true Lord of the Rings fan could visit 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 favourite places to visit within 2 hours of 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 geothermal wonders of New Zealand.

But get ready for the lingering odour of sulphur (eggy smell) that permeates Rotorua; it is intense!

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 are fun to watch.

Besides the thermal attractions, Rotorua has other brilliant things to do on a day trip or as part of a longer 7-day North Island itinerary.

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 glowworm caves to life through the history and legends of the Maori culture.

If you love caves, 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 it 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, enjoy the watersports or hire a bike and cycle around the 10km Great Lake Walkway.

For thrill-seekers, head to Huka Falls and blast along the Waikato River on a jet boat ride. Afterwards, head to Taupo Spa Thermal Park and enjoy a free dip in its swimming pool.

To 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 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 can ski on its slopes if visiting in winter.

Why not book a Tongariro Alpine Crossing: Hike Trail Roundtrip Shuttle to take the hassle out of getting to Tongariro?

Make sure to get a selfie at the #LOVETAUPO lettering, which can be found on Lake Terrace, before heading home. It’s a lovely memory of your day trip to Taupo.

View of Lake Taupo with #ILoveTaupo Lettering

I hope this post has helped to give you some ideas of great day trips to take from Auckland.

Please PIN for future travel to New Zealand.

If you are looking for a beach walk to do in New Zealand, you may like to read: Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove Trail

Eunice Tan

Sunday 17th of January 2021

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!


Friday 15th of January 2021

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.


Friday 15th of January 2021

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.


Thursday 14th of January 2021

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!


Thursday 14th of January 2021

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

Debra Schroeder

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

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...


Thursday 14th of January 2021

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

Sherianne Higgins

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

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!