Our Auckland: Seven Epic Outdoor Adventures Our Readers Love to Have in Auckland
Start playing in your own backyard again.
in partnership with
We always look forward to this time of year — when the chilly temps make way for sunny days and buzzing activity in our streets — but this year feels more exciting than most. With so much time spent indoors at home in 2020, we're keen to get out and make the most of spring and summer. So we've teamed up with Tourism New Zealand to ask you — Concrete Playground readers — what outdoor activities you love doing in and around Auckland. And since we're also keen to throw our support behind the local businesses that have had a tough run this year, we've paired some of your stellar suggestions with organised activities, too. Read on to discover seven ways to explore more of your backyard and help boost the local economy at the same time.
HOP BETWEEN SOME OF WAIHEKE ISLAND'S BEST WINERIES
As lovers of good food and wine (aren't we all?), you probably already know that Waiheke Island has a stellar reputation for both. Along with its rolling hills and white sandy beaches, this stunning Hauraki Gulf island boasts 30 boutique wineries. And since it's an easy 40-minute ferry ride from the city, you can easily hit a few in a single day trip. Not sure where to start? Jump on board the Views, Vines and Wines daily tour with Waiheke Island Wine Tours which, for $135 per person, will take you to three of the island's top vineyards for tastings and it'll provide incredible insights on the island and its premium drops. The tour price includes tasting fees for up to 15 wines, plus transfers around the island, to the lunch spot of your choice and back to the port at the end of the day.
SOAR ABOVE WAIHEKE ISLAND WITH YOUR BESTIE
Waiheke Island is so beautiful, we wouldn't blame you for wanting to explore it further. If so, the three-hour experience with EcoZip is a great option. After being picked up at the ferry terminal, you'll be taken on a 20-minute drive around the island before arriving at EcoZip headquarters for your epic ziplining experience. Across the next few hours, you'll soar above working vineyards and through an ancient forest canopy at up to 50 kilometres per hour. The entire time you'll be spoiled with views of the Auckland city skyline, the beaches and other islands along the coast — and you'll get to do it all with your best mate or partner by your side as it's all twin cables. Afterwards, wind down with a walk through the forest as your guide shares Māori stories and legends.
CYCLING ALONG THE WATERFRONT
It's only natural to want to be by the water on a nice day. But if you're after more action than just laying on the beach, consider hiring a bike and taking a scenic pedal along Auckland's waterfront. Adventure Capital has hardtail mountain bikes available for hire starting at $25 for an hour or $65 for a full day. It also has e-bikes if that's more your style. If you're keen to pair your cycling session with some sightseeing and education, tee up Adventure Capital's Waterfront Guided Bike Tour. This three-hour tour is designed for two people ($148 per person) and will take you through the Viaduct Basin all the way to Mission Bay with stops at scenic lookouts along the way.
EXPLORE AUCKLAND'S DIVERSE NATURAL SURROUNDINGS
It's something that can so easily be taken for granted, but it's amazing how diverse our natural surroundings are in Auckland, from the beaches and rugged coastline to the rainforest. And you can experience it all in a single day with tour operators Bush and Beach. Its Coast and Rainforest Walking Tour will see you covering plenty of ground, starting with a visit to the Arataki Visitor Centre to check out traditional Māori carvings. After a guided walk through the rainforest, you'll make tracks to the coast for a picnic lunch, a walk along a clifftop track and a visit to a black sand beach. The day ends with another rainforest walk, this time to an awe-inspiring waterfall. All up, you'll be out exploring for seven hours and the crew will drop you back in the city at about 5pm. Until April 2021, Bush and Beach is offering 20-percent off this tour, so it'll set you back $199 per person.
WALK THROUGH THE WORLD'S LARGEST PŌHUTUKAWA FOREST
Just 25 minutes by ferry from Auckland, Rangitoto Island is a favourite day-trip destination for locals. To see what the island has to offer, join Auckland Sea Kayak's guided walk, which will lead you through the world's largest pōhutukawa (New Zealand Christmas Tree) forest and to the island's peak 259 metres above sea level. As you're walking, keep an eye out for native animals, like the kākā (parrot) and morepork (owl), and flora, including over 40 kinds of ferns and orchids, too.
WANDER THROUGH A GARDEN FILLED WITH COLOURFUL SCULPTURES
It may require a mini road trip but Sculptureum, the extravagant sculpture park, zoo and vineyard in Matakana, is worth the one-hour drive. Opened in 2017 by Anthony and Sandra Grant, after more than a decade of planning, Sculptureum boasts six galleries filled with figurative works by Cezanne, Monet, Chagall and Rodin, plus a huge chandelier by American glass artist Dale Chihuly. But that's not even nearly everything to see here. There are also three outdoor sculpture gardens filled with colourful sculptures, prehistoric rocks and live animals, including turtles, rabbits and exotic birds. Spend a few hours exploring the property, then enjoy lunch at onsite restaurant Rothko with a glass of Sculptureum's award-winning wine.
SET SAIL ON WAITEMATA HARBOUR ON A HERITAGE VESSEL
To take a look back at New Zealand's vast maritime history, spanning immigration, trade and innovation, a trip to the New Zealand Maritime Museum is the place to go. Inside, you can explore exhibitions on early immigrants, Māori artefacts, European explorers and coastal trade. Sound too much like a school excursion? Scrap all that and simply take advantage of the fine weather to get out on the harbour. You can hop aboard the heritage ketch-rigged deck scow Ted Ashby for an hour-long cruise for $26 or the cute little 19th-century steam tug SS Puke for only a fiver. For a special treat, organise a one-hour chartered high tea cruise for you and five friends on vintage motorboat Nautilus from $98 per person.
Discover more exciting things to do (and businesses to support) around Auckland here.
Top image: EcoZip, Tourism New Zealand
Published on November 17, 2020 by Melanie Colwell