By Darren Griffiths

15 Best Tours & Day Trips from Auckland

12th April 2023

Auckland is not just New Zealand’s largest city; there are so many amazing things that come with the sprawling metropolis. For starters, its geographical location makes it a perfect starting point for most day trips.

If you are looking to connect to other major towns in NZ, you have an ideal departure point in Auckland.

Additionally, the city is supplied with some truly outstanding natural beauty. These sites are just amazing for day trips. Whether you want to take a group tour with family or just crave a solo adventure – such as kayaking, a bus ride, or hiking – there are many spectacular spots around Auckland.

To get to most of them, you only need a few hours or a couple of minutes, depending on your means of transport.

If you are more into learning than adventuring, there are several cultural centers and museums that you can tour in a day to learn a few things about the local culture.

Here are 15 wonderful day trips from Auckland that we recommend.

Related articles:
Check out our guide of Where to Stay in Auckland: The Best Areas
In Auckland for just a couple of days? Then you’ll need our 48 Hours in Auckland Itinerary! 

1 – West Coast Day Tour

If you have eight hours free to spend on an exciting tour, you should explore the West Coast. This day trip from Auckland allows you to sample some of the finest BBQ and wines that New Zealand has to offer.

Other key highlights of the tour are lovely lakes, amazing sand dunes, and historic sites.

A visit to the West Coast is the kind of day trip that you never forget; every moment is special. Whether you head indoors or outdoors, it doesn’t matter – a memory is created every single minute that you are on tour.

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2 – Matakana Day Trip

Located just a 45-minute drive from the city, making it one of the easier day trips from Auckland, Matakana is a popular tourist getaway for several reasons.

For one, the destination is supplied with beautiful beaches and vineyards that you can tour to cool off or look for inspiration.

Secondly, the tour takes you through truly gorgeous, scenic landscapes; every natural feature along the way is strategically positioned and has a stunning and unique look.

Lastly, Auckland is historically known as the mother city of the best wineries, handicrafts, and farm produce. On the tour, you will have the opportunity to sample them all in the local market.

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3 – Rangitoto Island Tour

Have you ever thought of taking a tour to the top of a volcano? If you haven’t, it’s time to do just that.

You can get there in 30 minutes via a ferry from the central city. Rangitoto is a rugged destination awaiting exploration. You not only have the opportunity to climb the 90-foot volcano, but also to learn a few things about its eruption five and a half centuries ago.

The island has amazing walking trails that you can walk alone or in groups. If you have the stamina to follow the trail to the volcano’s peak, you will see stunning panoramic views of the city and the Hauraki Gulf.

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4 – Sky Tower Auckland Trip

There are few better ways to view Auckland City than from the iconic Sky Tower. This incredible viewpoint stands at 220 meters and gives you a panoramic view of Auckland’s major streets and buildings – as well as out over the sparkling blue harbor and harbor bridge. You are also able to view nearby landmarks, mountains, and historic spots.

For the adventurous, you can strap in and walk around the outside of the tower top, or take a bungee jump to plummet towards the pavement.

If you visit at night, the attached casino and variety of restaurants – including a revolving one at the top – will keep you entertained. This might not be a day trip from Auckland as such but is worth adding to this list.

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5 – Waitakere Ranges

As a day tripper, you cannot ignore the isolated treasures of Auckland. Situated 40 minutes away from the city center, the Waitakere Ranges are packed with wonderful natural beauty. There are over 16,000 hectares of natural rainforests popular for hiking.

You can go on a real outdoor adventure to breathe the cool, fresh air. Some trails within the ranges are ideal for families – a good example is the Kitekite Track.

There are also great waterfalls within reach, such as Fairy Falls and Karekare Falls.  You can see these cascades up close when walking the trails.

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6 – Hobbiton Movie Set Day Trip

Hobbiton is the coolest place you could tour for a movie experience. If you are a die-hard fan of The Hobbit series or the Lord of Rings, you have to add Hobbiton to your list of day trips from Auckland.

The site was chosen to showcase the two historic series because it reminds people of ancient England – and featured in the famous movies filmed entirely in New Zealand.

If you want to join the guided tour, you will need to book in advance.

If you take a bus from the city, you’ll arrive at Hobbiton in around two hours.

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7 – Coromandel Peninsula

About 1.5 hours from the city, the Coromandel Peninsula is New Zealand’s pride and joy. It’s a scenic spot that attracts local and international tourists in droves.

If you are looking for a major highlight, you’ll love the natural hot water experience at the beach, where you can dig holes in the sand at low tide that bubble full of hot water for you to relax in.  

You’ll fall in love with the pristine coastal waters and the white sands here. Visit iconic Cathedral Cove via kayak or boat – or walk the easy trail if you prefer.

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8 – Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

You only need one bus ticket to tour the entire city in just a day. You can start from Mt. Eden to see Auckland from high. Next, pop into the Parnell Village to learn about the city’s oldest neighborhood before heading to the Auckland Museum to learn about Maori Culture.

Other popular stops include the Rose Gardens for a nature walk and the Sky Tower. Overall, there are at least 14 stops to make with a single bus ticket so can start this day trip around Auckland from anywhere in the city. 

Generally, the bus tour is great for someone who is new to Auckland and short on time. It’s a great way to see the city on a budget.  

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9 – Puhoi Kayak Day Trip

A few miles from Matakana is the beautiful town of Puhoi. The town is popularly known for its bohemian heritage. A day trip from Auckland here allows you to learn a few things about its history; however, the real fun is kayaking. Paddle on the cool waters of the Puhoi River until you reach the historic and iconic Puhoi Pub for a cold beer.

If you are looking to escape the bustle of the city, there is no better getaway experience than the Puhoi Day Tour.

10 – Waiheke Island Ferry Tour

A quick ride on a ferry is all it takes to reach Waiheke island. The island is not only the second largest but also the most populated in the Gulf of NZ. Explore some of the popular wineries like Mudbrick and Cable Bay, or visit the lovely beaches to cool off after a long day.

Take a tour of Stony Batter to see the historic World War II displays and sculptures. Every experience in Waiheke Island – whether it’s wine tasting or a stretch at the beach – is memorable.

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11 – Whangarei Falls Day Tour

If you really want some solitude in the middle of nature, consider heading to Whangarei Falls for one of your day trips from Auckland. The natural attraction is just 2.5 hours drive from the city.

Home to easy walking trails, the fall itself is 85 feet tall. If you opt to walk, it will take you 30 minutes or so to complete the tour. The trip takes you across multiple bridges and through natural bush as you head to the falls. During the summer, you can swim in the pool at the foot of the waterfall.

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12 – Waitomo Caves Day Trip

Waitomo is New Zealand’s most famous caving location making it one of the more popular day trips from Auckland. Luckily it is only around 2.5 hours drive from Auckland.

The highlight of the tour is the glow worms. What can be more exciting than donning a head torch and rushing into the caves to chase glow worms?

This is the kind of experience you get when you tour Waitomo. In addition to the glowworms, the trip allows you to enjoy a bungee jump and a paragliding experience.

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13 – City Express Day Tour

A visit to Auckland is never complete without an authentic Kiwi experience. This tour guarantees you an informative local guide with English language commentary.

The express trip allows you to enjoy panoramic views from the peak of Mt Eden. This viewpoint allows you to see Auckland’s most valuable homes and you will also learn a bit about Maori tradition. Every experience during the City Express Day Trip is one to remember for days to come.

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14 – Rotorua Day Trip

It takes three hours to drive southward from Auckland to Rotorua and is one of the most distinctive day trips from Auckland. Here, the major highlights are geothermal activity, such as hot mud and geysers.

Since the 1800’s, the tour site has seen more visitors than any other place in New Zealand – primarily because of the awesome hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools.

If you have exhausted the hot springs, tour the Government Gardens for a relaxing experience or check out the historic center to learn a few things about Maori Culture.   

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15 – West Coast Beaches

Lastly, you can either walk for about four hours to the West Coast Beaches or take a short drive. The beaches are Auckland’s most celebrated black sand beaches. The most popular spot is Piha Beach – a rugged and wild spot that is simply spectacular.

The highlights include surfing, walking trails, and panoramic views. The West Coast Beaches are generally a great fit for family tours, group excursions and any other type of day trips from Auckland.

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So get out there and explore outside of the city with this list of the best day trips from Auckland. Happy travels!

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Auckland's geographical location makes it a perfect starting point for awesome day trips. Here are 15 of the best day trips from Auckland that we recommend.

Auckland's geographical location makes it a perfect starting point for awesome day trips. Here are 15 of the best day trips from Auckland that we recommend.