Phoebe Falconer suggests a series of great summer holiday destinations within an hour's drive of downtown Auckland.
Where: Hill Rd, Manurewa
What: Auckland Botanic Gardens
How to get there: From Auckland, on the Southern Motorway, take the Hill Rd (Manurewa) exit, turn left on to Hill Rd, and the main entrance is the first driveway on the left.
From the south, take the Takanini offramp, turn left on to Great South Rd, turn right on to Alfriston Rd, left on to Claude Rd, right on to Hill Rd, through the traffic lights, main entrance 100m further on.
Bus from Britomart Transport Centre in Auckland, get off at Southmall, walk up Hill Rd, and the gardens are 100m past the motorway overbridge. Or catch a 66 bus from the Manurewa interchange to the garden gates.
Cost: Admission is free. The gardens are open from 8am to 8pm, daily.
Things to do: The Auckland Botanic Gardens are home to 10,000 plants from around the world, in 24 collections, spread over 64 hectares.
Walk around, or take the easier option: The Wiri Rambler, two carriages towed behind a tractor, runs on Sundays and takes about 30 minutes. Adults $2, children 5-13 $1.
The Visitor Centre offers information and plant displays, a cafe and toilets.
Dogs on a lead are permitted, bikes, scooters, skates and skateboards are not, and picking flowers is strictly prohibited, unless with the head gardener's express permission.
History: In 1957 it was pointed out that alone among New Zealand's major cities, Auckland had no botanic garden. The first 42 hectares of land were bought in 1968 from the Nathan Estate by the then Auckland Regional Authority, and Manukau City Council bought the remainder.
In 1982 the gardens were officially opened by British botanist David Bellamy.
The gardens hosted the Ellerslie Flower Show before the franchise was bought by the Christchurch City Council.By Phoebe Falconer Email Phoebe