A great day trip from Auckland, the Awhitu Peninsula is a beautiful place about an hour south west, on the southern headland of the Manukau Harbour. Sweeping views of the harbour, and Whatipu on the northern side, can be found from the Manukau Heads Lighthouse.
While it looks historic, it’s actually a replica in a different location to the original, more visitor friendly!
Twenty minutes drive down the road is the lovely Awhitu Regional Park, with clear waters, white beaches, and no one around.
I visited in December one year so the wonderful pohutukawa were in full festival red bloom, both by the beach and even more spectacularly by a lookout on the drive back.