Pohutukawas are trees made for climbing. Here's where to find some great specimens.
Get to the beach from Harbour View Rd or from Coyle Park at the end of Pt Chevalier Rd, for trees that beg to be climbed. You choose whether you stay up at carpark level or go down by the sea; these sturdy giants have been clambered on for generations. And Coyle Park itself is hours of fun too, the train a perennial crowd-pleaser.
2. Little Shoal Bay
Between Northcote Pt and Birkenhead Point
This is an understandably popular tree spot, with its unusual angle of the harbour bridge, tennis court and petanque. The playground is lovely, the moored boats suggest a rustic life right under the nose of the city. The pohutukawa, or Metrosideros excelsa, are well established and great to play in. Cross the road to the boardwalk through Le Roys Bush.
3. Wenderholm Regional Park
Off SH1, just north of Waiwera
Pohutukawa climbing opportunities are exceptional up here. This was Auckland's first regional park with a collection of positively ancient pohutukawa (and lots of other native and exotic trees too). There are also great picnic spots, plenty of swimming and historic Couldrey House. If you really like the place you can camp out or rent one of the baches.
4. Waiheke Island
Waiheke is awash with trees, and a couple of good spots for enjoying them are Onetangi Beach, where there are some whoppers by the reserve. Or if you prefer, go to Oneroa Beach where one of the trees has a rope swing in it.