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17 Best Day Trips from Auckland, New Zealand

When it comes to day trips from Auckland, New Zealand, there are plenty of amazing options to choose from. 

Whether you’re looking for a nature-filled adventure or a chance to explore some of the country’s charming small towns, you’re sure to find something that fits the bill.

As New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is a popular stop for all visitors. The “City of Sails” may be epic in its own right, but it’s worth leaving for day trips to explore more of what the country has to offer. 

I lived in Auckland for a year and took advantage of all of the best day trip opportunities I could – even when it meant carpooling because I was afraid to drive on the other side of the road!

Here are 17 of the best day trips from Auckland, New Zealand. I’ve included travel times (based on the state highway’s speed limits) to help you plan your adventures around New Zealand’s North Island. 

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Best Day Trips from Auckland New Zealand

Waiheke beach view over the harbour where you can spent a day trip from Auckland

1. Waiheke Island

Waiheke is the unofficial wine island of New Zealand. Located just off the coast of Auckland, it’s home to some of the best wineries in the country.

Whether you prefer red or white, you’ll find dozens of vineyards to tickle your tastebuds with $10 wine tastings.

If you’re not into wine, there’s still plenty to do in Waiheke. The island is known for its spas, delicious restaurants, and stunning beaches. 

You can even do an olive oil tasting if you feel like you’re missing out on all the tastings going on!

To see more of the island, book a guided wine tour of the vineyards or rent a scooter so you can go beyond the southern area where the ferry docks.

Waiheke is known for its stunning sunsets that are best enjoyed at an outdoor restaurant at one of the island’s many vineyards.

You can easily get to Waiheke by Fullers Ferry from the Auckland docks. 

The ferry comes every 30 minutes from 6am – 12pm (times vary during season. Check here for updated timetables).

Transportation Type: Fullers Ferry

Travel Time: 30-40 minutes

Cost: $35 NZD return ticket

👉 Book a Waiheke wine tour here!

Islands off the coromandel peninsula in. the blue water when I visited on a day trip from Auckland on a sunny day

2. The Coromandel Peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula is home to stunning white-sand beaches, easy hiking paths that wind down to the beaches, cliffs to explore, excellent snorkeling, and some of the best ocean kayaking in New Zealand.

Be sure to stop by Cathedral Cove, potentially the most famous beach in New Zealand thanks to its appearance in a Narnia movie. You’ll walk along the cliffs, taking in the stunning islands dotting the cerulean ocean as it fades into the horizon. 

Pack your bathing suit to take a dip in the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean before you have to make the climb back up.

It’s on almost every tourist itinerary and guided tour schedule. That means that can be hundreds of people visiting at one time, particularly when the buses all arrive together.

To visit for a day trip in the summer months, try to get there early in the day before the buses would have set out from Auckland. You’ll get more peace to explore Cathedral Cove and have time to see what else the Coromandel Peninsula has to offer, like adorable local restaurants and lots of local cheese. 

Don’t forget to stop by hot water beach, where you can find free natural hot springs to enjoy!

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 2.5 hours

👉 I recommend this Coromandel day tour from Auckland!

Don't Forget to Pack the Essentials!

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Waitomo Glowworm Caves with people tubing beneath the glowworms above them
Photo by Black Water Rafting Company

3. Waitomo Caves

Looking for a unique activity that doesn’t depend on the weather? Head to the Waitomo Caves 2.5 hours south of Auckland.

The Waitomo Caves are famous for their glow worms. These gross larvae become brilliantly beautiful as they glow a light blue in the underground caves.

To see them, you’ll need to book a tour. You can go rafting or abseiling – either way, you’ll get wet.

Indulge your intrepid side by venturing underground, jumping off waterfalls, and floating through dark tunnels lit only by glow worms.

The tours take 3 hours, but require you to arrive early.

The Ruakuri Cave is the most popular of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. It’s also the longest, so most day tours run from here. 

Spend a unique day exploring the mystical underground world of New Zealand with the glow worms.

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 2.5 hours

👉 This glowworm cave tour is my fave!

bay of islands dolphins

4. Bay of Islands

Just 4 hours north of Auckland, you’ll find the Bay of Islands.

This is a must-see destination in New Zealand. The area is known for its crystal clear water, sheltered bays, and marine life.

It’s the perfect place to spend a day (or more) kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling.

There are many tour companies that operate in the Bay of Islands, so it’s easy to find one that suits your interests and budget.

Most tours include pick up from your accommodation in Auckland, which makes day-tripping to the Bay of Islands a breeze.

I recommend taking a trip up to Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach for epic views of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet.

Don’t forget to walk a native forest of Kauri trees to see New Zealand’s natural wonders. 

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 4 hours

👉 Looking to visit the Bay of Islands? This tour covers all the must dos!

Nina posing with her arms up on top of Rangitoto volcano with Auckland in the background after she finished her short trip up the volcano

5. Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto is a volcanic island off the coast of Auckland CBD. 

The volcano is dormant, so you’re not likely to have to run from any lava (which is a relief cause you’ll be tired after this hike).

Neither Rangitoto nor Motutapu have any facilities or stores. You’ll only find one bathroom at the ferry port.

I recommend bringing plenty of water, snacks, sunblock, and a hat. 

To climb the volcano, you’ll follow the 1.5 hour path up through the volcanic fields and passed the stunning vistas where you can get the spectacular views of Auckland. 

If you’re looking for more adventure, follow the side trails to enter the walkable caverns that pop up around the volcanic island. These are pitch-black walkways, so be sure to pack a torch!

Extend your day trip by crossing the causeway to Motutapu Island, the oldest uninhabited island in the region. Its name means “sacred” or “sanctuary” in Polynesian languages

Here you’ll find beautiful beaches to explore. They’re almost empty on Saturday morning!

This day trip from Auckland is for the intrepid travellers who are looking to leave the city behind.

Transportation Type: Fullers Ferry

Travel Time: 2 hours

Cost: $39 NZD

👉 Get your ferry ticket here!

raglan beach

6. Raglan

The sleepy town is located on the west coast of New Zealand, just a short drive from Auckland city centre.

Raglan is known for its world-famous surfing, black sand beaches, and laid-back vibe.

If you’re not a surfer, don’t worry!

There’s plenty to do in Raglan even if you don’t hit the waves.

Start your day with a coffee at one of the many cafes in town. Then, explore the shops and art galleries that line the main street.

When you’re ready to work up an appetite, head to the world-famous Manu Bay for a swim or a walk along the beach.

For lunch, try one of Raglan’s many food trucks. The town has some of the best in New Zealand!

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 20 minutes

👉 Learn how to surf in Raglan with this company!

hauraki gulf

7. Hauraki Gulf

The Hauraki Gulf is a day trip from Auckland that’s perfect for those who love the outdoors.

There are many different ways to explore the Hauraki Gulf. 

You can go kayaking, sailing, fishing, or swimming.

There are also plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. The gulf is home to dolphins, penguins, and even whales!

Kayaking is a great way to get up close to the wildlife. You can rent a kayak from many different places in Auckland.

If you don’t want to paddle by yourself, there are also plenty of tour companies that offer kayaking tours of the gulf.

Sailing is another popular way to explore the Hauraki Gulf. You can either rent a boat or take a tour.

Nature lovers will enjoy the walking trails that make this 2 hour drive worth the gas cost!

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 2 hours

tiritiri matangi island bird

8. Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island is a day trip from Auckland that’s perfect for bird lovers.

The island is a nature reserve that’s home to many different species of birds. It’s also one of the best places in New Zealand to see kiwis!

To get to the island, you’ll need to take a ferry from Auckland. The boat ride takes about 60 minutes.

There are no cars on the island, so you’ll either need to walk or take a shuttle bus.

Once you’re on the island, there are plenty of hiking trails to explore. You can also go birdwatching or visit the lighthouse.

This is a popular destination that’s worth visiting even if you aren’t an avid bird watcher. It’s a unique, predator free island that offers a respite from the noise of New Zealand’s biggest city. 

Transportation Type: Ferry

Travel Time: 1 hour

Cost: $28

Hobbit hole surrounded by greenery and a bright blue sky from my day trip to Hobbiton from Auckland for a weekend getaway

9. Hobbiton Movie Set

Whether you’re a Lord of the Rings fan or not, you need to visit Hobbiton from Auckland. 

It’s one of the North Island’s most epic day trips and a stunning getaway that you’ll never experience anywhere else.

Visiting Hobbiton means a drive to Matamata, two hours south of Auckland.

The drive is extremely picturesque, taking you through the rolling fields that helped Peter Jackson decide to use the Alexanders Farm as the movie set for Hobbiton.

Book your 2 hour walking tour of the Hobbiton movie set in advance, as they fill up quickly. 

You can even add on a meal to dine like a Hobbit before you leave!

You’ll get plenty of time to take photos as you explore Middle Earth with your tour guide, who will be helpfully playing photographer and giving you interesting facts about the filming. They’ll even help you recreate iconic moments for your poses. Or just pose with hobbit holes cause they’re so cute!

Before the tour is over, you’ll get a complimentary beverage at the Green Dragon Inn, where you can sing some Hobbit drinking songs and try on some Hobbit apparel.

But Hobbiton isn’t all there is to see in Matamata. Before you leave to go back to Auckland, check out the local town. 

Matamata is famous for their local cheese and has some of the best meat pies I had in the country.

Take your time leisurely exploring this often forgotten town to round out your day trip from Auckland. 

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 2 hours

👉 Book your full day tour to Hobbiton here!

Kirekire waterfall viewed through palm fronds on a day trip excursion

10. Piha Beach

Piha Beach is one of Auckland’s most popular west coast beaches. The black sand beach is located just 45 minutes from the city center and is a great place to relax or surf.

Be warned: the route is very windy and you’ll likely need to pack some anti-nausea tablets for those without an iron constitution. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike to the top of Lion Rock for some stunning views of the beach.

Looking to surf? Then Piha Beach is the perfect place for a short trip from Auckland.

Surfers often pack their kit to take on the large swells on the western coast. Some even camp overnight to catch the early morning waves before their head home.

Piha Beach is a local hot spot for day trips in the off-season. They love to visit in Spring and Fall when the weather is cooling so they can have a nice picnic without being disturbed by tourists.

Join them by packing a bag with snacks from Auckland, as the only restaurant nearby is a pub.

Be sure to pack a picnic blanket or beach towel and some sandals to protect you from the heat of the black sand on a sunny day. Even on cool days, you can still feel the heat stored in the dark grains when you sit on them.

Once you’re done with lunch, tackle on one of the nearby hikes.

My favourite is the Kitekite falls hike in Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, which goes 30-minutes into the brush to reveal a small waterfall.

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 50 minutes

goat island marine reserve waterfall

11. Goat Island Marine Reserve

Goat Island Marine Reserve is one of the most beautiful areas near Auckland, and perfect for those who love snorkelling and diving.

The crystal clear water and abundance of sea life make it a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

There are plenty of guided tours available, or you can explore the reef on your own.

If you’re not a confident swimmer, there are also glass bottom boat tours available. I prefer this option as it’s offers the best way to see the marine life without having to get in the freezing ocean (due to the time of year I visited).

A boat tour makes this an easy day trip full of natural beauty.

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 1 hour

Karangahake Gorge

12. Karangahake Gorge

The historic gold mining town is located just 1 hour south of Auckland and is a great place to explore New Zealand’s history.

There are plenty of walking and biking trails available, as well as guided tours of the old mine tunnels.

Be sure to dress warmly, as the temperature in the Gorge can be quite cool. It’s a good place to go in summer when the unrelenting heat is overwhelming.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try your hand at panning for gold.

There are several companies that offer this service and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

It’s a popular option for travelers with kids looking for something fun to do.

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 1.5 hours

Hamilton Gardens 4431

13. Hamilton

Hamilton is the largest city in the Waikato region and just 1.5 hours south of Auckland.

The city is home to several museums, art galleries, and gardens.

Hamilton Gardens is one of the most popular day trips from Auckland. The 52-hectare garden is made up of five different themed gardens that showcase the plant life of different cultures.

It’s a stop that sounds underwhelming to non-gardeners, but once you arrive you’ll be blown away. I quickly understood why this is one of the most popular places in NZ. 

The Waikato Museum is another popular attraction and offers a variety of exhibitions on the region’s history and culture.

If you’re looking for something more active, there are plenty of walking and biking trails in Hamilton that wind through the city and along the river.

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 1.5 hours

Nina's legs in front of the beach view of Rangitoto from Devonports' Cheltenham Beach. An excellent Auckland getaway

14. Devonport

Devonport is perfect for a short weekend getaway when you need to relax after a full week of work or walking across the city. Use your metro card for a discounted fare!

Hop off the ferry and head to a café for a morning pastry. 

Follow the ocean to the free military museum or climb Mount Victoria for stunning views of Auckland. 

Wander to Cheltenham Beach (my favourite beach in New Zealand) for a relaxing afternoon in the sun. 

Explore historic tunnels in North Head Historic Reserve. 

Head back into the city for hidden food gems before heading back to the city.

Devonport is an excellent spot to spend a sunny day browsing the shops, relaxing by the water, or going for a short walk up historic hills. I spent all of my free time here rather than at Mission Bay, the more popular beaches in the Auckland region.

Don’t forget to bring your appetite to enjoy local fish and chips, and some of the best pastries in Auckland.

Transportation Type: Fullers Ferry OR Drive

Travel Time: 15 minutes OR 20 minutes

Cost: $16 NZD

View over Mangawhai beach from the cliffs walk that you can do on a one day trip from Auckland

15. Mangawhai 

Mangawhai is a beach north of Auckland that rarely makes it onto top day trip lists. 

It’s sort of a local secret that they’ve guarded quite well, until I discovered it.

The Mangawhai area is the perfect spot for an adventurous day trip. 

The beach is one of the best near Auckland for surfing large swells. 

Hikers, like me, will want to strap on their hiking gear and tackle the 2-3 hours cliff walk that takes you through volcanic rock formations and up along the bluffs before you return to the white sand beach.

I’m not a big swimmer, but Mangawhai was my favourite beach for getting in the water. 

Near the shore, the currents aren’t too rough, meaning that you can body surf in peace and happily float in the turquoise water. 

It’s the perfect end to a long hike, even if it means you’ll be a bit salty for the short drive home.

The beach itself is one of the largest near Auckland. It goes on for kilometres, with people rarely using more than the first 500m to picnic or take a quick dip.

Pack your bag for a short road trip and have an epic day on this beach.

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 1.5 hours 

Maori man sitting in a canoe at Tamaki Maori Village  in Rotorua

16. Rotorua

Rotorua is probably best known as the stinkiest city in New Zealand. That’s because the area is plagued by the smell of sulfur from the hot springs and geysers that erupt around the city.

Once you get past the smell – which only takes a few minutes – you’ll be amazing at all the wonderful activities Rotorua has to offer.

Just 3 hours south of Auckland is a travellers paradise, filled with free and cheap activities that will help you get to know New Zealand a bit better.

Budget travellers will love the free options, like floating in a hot spring caused by geothermal activity, watching the bubbling mud pools, or walking the redwoods forest.

Luxury travellers will want to visit the Polynesian Spa to relax in outdoor pools with spa treatments. 

Cultural travellers should visit Rotorua for its connection to the Maori culture. 

Rotorua has a large population of Maori peoples who devote their lives to sharing their culture with visitors. Take in an evening performance of traditional haka dances and learn about the Maori culture at Tamaki Maori Village

You’ll even get a chance to sample some must try New Zealand food, like the hangi. 

Kiwibirds are also a huge draw for Rotorua. 

You can visit them in a kiwi house outside the city to encounter a real live kiwibird without having to tramp into the bush.

Rotorua is an epic day trip from Auckland New Zealand where you can take a short trip to feel like you’re in a whole other country. 

Take in the wealth of free activities and cultural experiences when you visit.

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 3 hours

👉 This is my favourite Rotorua spa experience!

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17. Taupo

Taupo, located in the heart of North Island, is home to some of the best outdoor activities in New Zealand.

Taupo is situated on Lake Taupo – the largest lake in New Zealand. The lake is so big that it’s often mistaken for an ocean!

The lake is the perfect spot for a day of swimming, boating, fishing, or even just relaxing on the beach.

There’s also plenty to do on land. Taupo is a great place for hiking, with trails that wind through forests and along rivers. You can even hike to the top of Mt. Ruapehu – an active volcano!

In the winter, Mt. Ruapehu is a popular spot for skiing and snowboarding. But even if you don’t visit during the winter months, you can still check out the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – one of the most popular day hikes in New Zealand.

Looking to skydive? Taupo is one of the best places in New Zealand, offering views of both islands on clear days.

Transportation Type: Car

Travel Time: 3.5 hours

👉 Want to skydive? Book a tandem skydive with the most trusted NZ company!

Where to Rent a Car in New Zealand

To get to most of these incredible day trips from Auckland, you’ll need a car. Since public transport between cities is pretty much non-existent, especially to the more rural areas in this guide, it’s smart to hire a car to help you get around.

You can find many car rental places around Auckland. The easiest locations are at the airport on the central business district in Downtown Auckland. 

To compare prices and find a reliable car that won’t break your budget, check out rentalcars.com. They have all of the main car rental companies in New Zealand, like Apex rentals and JUCY rentals.

👉 Book a car now!

Wrap Up: Day Trips from Auckland New Zealand

Auckland is an amazing city with plenty to keep you busy for days on end. But sometimes you just need to get out of the city and explore what else New Zealand has to offer.

Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture, or just a day at the beach, there’s a day trip from Auckland that’s perfect for you.

Do you have any day trips from Auckland to add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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New Zealand travel is about more than just cities. So get out of Auckland with these top day trips you must try! Thanks to New Zealand's size, you can travel half the country in a day - which means a lot of epic day trips. Head to amazing white and black sand beaches, jump out of a plane, or hike waterfalls with this list. #solotravel #adventure #mustdo #placestotravel #travelinspiration #outandabout #newzealand

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