The sunny outlook for Auckland Anniversary Day is an ideal opportunity to get out of the house and explore the beauty the region has to offer.
In advance of the long weeekend, we've put together some overlooked gems that are worth getting better acquainted with:
1. Kitekite Falls
Located only a short drive back from Piha, Kitekite Falls is a towering waterfall that's often forgotten about. It's only accessible by a walking track, which takes about 45 minutes and isn't very tough. If you're going to bother driving all the way out to Piha, you might as well check out the falls as well. The main track takes you to the bottom of the falls where — if you aren't too scared of eels — you can swim in the rock pool underneath. There is an extra track that takes you to the top of the falls, though this is said to be quite tough.
Read more: Piha: Falling for the past
2. Duder Regional Park
Duder Regional Park is located a ten minute drive past Maraetai Beach in the far east of Auckland. There are a number of different walks ranging from 30 minutes to two hours or more. If you only have a short time, the Duder coastal walk is the good way to see the best of the coastal areas of Duder. If you have longer, the Whakakaiwhara Pa Walk is a great way to see the park and see the best views of the full peninsula. You can also camp, self contained, for a small fee around the park. Dog owners will want to avoid this one however as there is a year round dog ban.
Read more: Auckland: Park life
3. Kohimarama Beach
Just around the corner from the popular and ever-crowded Mission Bay is Kohimarama. The beach here has less shops and often far less people — so if you're looking for a spot with the same great views, but less of a crowd, Kohi is for you. Despite having less shops, you'll still be able to get an amazing ice cream at The Store, where the flavours are created in-house. On a decent sunny day, Kohimarama Beach is perfect for watching water sports or having a go yourself. It's also a great beach for for kids as the waves are very small.
Read more: My Auckland: Kohimarama
4. Awhitu Peninsula
In the southern end of Auckland, Awhitu Peninsula is home to beautiful beaches and an extremely Insta-worthy lighthouse. The Manakau Heads lighthouse is open to the public and you can climb to the top for great views over the Peninsula. In Awhitu Regional Park, you can also enjoy a few short walks or mountain bike trails. Close by Karioitahi Beach is a long black sand beach (be sure to take shoes in summer) with decent waves, so it's great for a day of wave jumping or body surfing. Just remember to stay between the flags!
Read more: Leading lights in New Zealand
5. Whatipu Beach
An hour away from downtown Auckland, the drive alone is worth the trip to this wild, west coast beach. After Titirangi, you'll head through bushland, past an impressive dam, along a stone-lined coastal road and across a ford. There's also a large lighthouse letterbox that tourists love to take photos with and it's worth stopping in Huia for lunch. With iron-rich black sand, Whatipu is known for somewhat treacherous conditions — history buffs will know this is where the HMS Orpheus sank in 1863 — so you probably won't want to swim there — but this wildness is part of its appeal. Kids will love sliding down the sand dunes and exploring the huge caves that were once used as dancehalls.
Read more: Whatipu: A beach for all seasons
Prior to the extension of the Northern Motorway, everyone roadtripping up north had to pass through Orewa — a popular spot to stop for a swim and an ice cream. While it might be a bit overlooked these days, it's definitely much nicer without all that traffic. Popular with retirees and young families, Orewa has a bit of a Florida vibe to it — especially over Auckland Anniversary Weekend when the big hot rod show happens and the main drag is lined with American flags. The beach stretches for three kilometres and as the waves are mostly gentle, it's perfect for kids. Further up the road, Wenderholm Regional Park is another phenomenal place to explore. And of course, it's a crime not to get an ice cream — try Farida's, Charlie Coco's or Casa Del Gelato.
Read more: The best things to see and do in Orewa