Auckland might be New Zealand's biggest region with the highest population density and seemingly endless hustle and bustle, but there are still many ways you can get off the beaten track and away from it all.
Here are some of our favourite hidden gems around Tāmaki Makaurau:
Great Barrier Island
Whether you're travelling by sea or air, the Hauraki Gulf's largest island is worth the trip. Made for nature lovers, Great Barrier has an abundance of walking tracks - and stunning views - as well as beaches aplenty. If the idea of an ocean dip is a bit much at this time of year, the island's natural hot springs might be more your style. Kaitoke hot springs are the only undeveloped natural hot pools in the Auckland region and an easy 80-minute walk will take you there. As the sun sets, be sure to look to the heavens. Great Barrier was the first island in the world to receive the Dark Sky Sanctuary status, making its sparkling night sky a real once-in-a-lifetime treat to behold.
Staydium Glamping at Eden Park
Eden Park is the home of Auckland sport . . . and cutting-edge accommodation. Whether you want to camp out on a game day or feel what it's like to have a whole stadium to yourself, Staydium Glamping is the newest way to experience Eden Park. These lavishly furnished domes sit high about the turf, meaning on game days you can enjoy the action and then watch the sun go down from your queen bed, inside the cosy tent. Explore the changing rooms and coaches' box with an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at New Zealand sport.
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Te Ara Hura Walkway, Waiheke
Of course, Waiheke has stunning beaches and blissful wineries, but did you know it also has 100km of walking tracks that allow you to discover the real beauty of the island. On the Te Ara Hura network you can explore the coastline, pass through native bush, and visit historic sites. You can choose your own route to suit as all the tracks are now connected, criss-crossing the island - so you can start and finish at any point you pick. Just follow the marker posts to stay on the track.
There's a hidden treasure out in southeast Auckland. With country charm, boutique food and wine offerings, and rich history, Clevedon is a little town with a lot to offer. Pay a visit on a Sunday to take advantage of the rich produce and homemade treats at the Clevedon Farmers' Market, and then pop into the Clevedon Village Market for local arts, crafts, and jewellery. Once you've had your shopping fix, there are wineries to explore, Maraetai Beach is great for a walk or spot of fishing, and if you fancy stepping back in time, the historic McNichol Homestead Museum offers a glimpse into 19th-century New Zealand.
It's one of Auckland's most famous landmarks but a recent survey found that almost 40 per cent of Aucklanders have never visited the island. Now's the time to change that. Fullers360 relaunched its Rangitoto Island service over Queen's Birthday Weekend, and now runs three services per day (a 50 per cent reduction from pre-Covid daily sailings). The hike to the crater takes around an hour and offers some of the best views of the city, the Hauraki Gulf and islands such as Motuihe, Motutapu, Waiheke and more.