There are so many amazing spots to explore throughout Auckland. We have loved camping near west coast beaches and zipping across to Rangitoto Island to clamber through lava tunnels. We often get asked for our favourite spots – which is super tricky to answer! – but here are five of our (many) must-do Auckland adventures.
Lake Wainamu | Te Henga Bethells Beach
Ancient black dunes that have taken thousands of years to form are the perfect launching pad for kids to tear down before diving into a dune-lake to cool off. This lake is an excellent summer wallowing hole for families. Bring your togs and inflatable animals for this outing. From the car park follow the shallow stream towards the dunes looming in front of you. Follow the stream to the left and continue walking until you reach the lake.
Accessibility: Dirt path and shallow stream to walk through. Optional steep dunes to climb.
Time: Allow 45 min to 1 hour (about 4.5 km) return along the stream.
Location: Car park just after the bridge before Bethells Beach.
Important: No dogs allowed. Bring covered shoes for the dunes - hot hot black sand!
Hūnua Suspension Bridge Path | Hūnua Ranges Regional Park
This pretty trail is tucked away from the bustling Hūnua Falls and is well worth a visit with the kids. There's plenty of dense forest to stroll through, and great views over Wairoa Reservoir. From the bridge there is a healthy dose of stairs to a couple lookouts before it levels off then dips down to the reservoir. Despite the steps the path gradient is relatively steady, so it's very doable if you take your time with kids.
Accessibility: Gravel, road, dirt paths and steps.
Time: Allow 1 hour and 30 min (about 4 km) for the loop.
Facilities: Picnic tables and toilets available below the dam.
Location: Otau Road off Moumoukai Road, Hūnua
Dogs: On leads.
Tasman Lookout and The Gap
If there's one walk to do at Piha, this is it. It takes you to a vantage point over the entire beach, before dropping down into a secluded cove where huge frothy waves thrash against exposed cliffs at The Gap. This spot is where the tide surges through a narrow low point between Taitomo Island and the cliffs opposite - at the turning of the tides it's a raging display. The final loop back to the main beach is on sand. If the tide is in, the last section includes a scramble over rocks. Little kids will need a hand here.
Accessibility: Dirt path, sand and steps.
Time: Allow 1 hour (about 2 km) for the loop.
Location: Southern end of Piha beach.
Important: No dogs allowed.
Meola Reef Reserve | Te Tokaroa
Perched on the city's longest lava flow, this reef jutting out into the Waitematā Harbour has a chequered history and even hides some intriguing skeletons beneath its grassy mounds. Stroll over this unique geological feature (it's the longest basalt lava flow in the Auckland volcanic field) to the headland where the grass meets the exposed reef. Here you can explore the stands of saltmarsh and mangroves and look out for the matuku moana/white-faced herons that call this reef home.
Accessibility: Gravel buggy-friendly paths on the headland but walking only on the reef.
Time: Allow 1 hour (about 2 km) return for an explore.
Location: Parking available on Meloa Road, Western Springs.
Important: Dogs allowed on-lead through the reserve and off-lead in the fenced area.
Auckland Domain Wintergardens
Looking for an inside adventure? The Wintergardens is an all-season delight with its two Victorian glasshouses which are home to ferocious-looking cacti and cold-fearing plants. After exploring inside, trot past the sunken garden and through the small archway that leads to the native fernery. Wind down the path into the former scoria quarry - which feels like a fairy grotto - with its small pond and lush ferns. If the kids still have energy to burn, visit Lovers' Walk which starts near the duck pond opposite the café.
Accessibility: Well-graded walkways in the glasshouses.
Time: 30 min.
Location: Multiple access points from Park Road, Grafton Road and Titoki Street. Follow the car park signs within the Domain.
Important: Dogs allowed on-lead.
Looking for more family adventures? Discover 100+ kid-friendly adventures in our Auckland guidebook. Adventures suitable for little legs, buggies, wheelchairs, bikes and the family pooch - all ages, all abilities.