During a decade in Auckland I explored a good proportion of it. Here are eighteen of it’s lesser known / visited gems…
An epic West Coast beach likely to be devoid of people as there is no road access. It’s reached via the Laird Thomson Track at the northern end of Piha, and offers spectacular views of both beaches.
Connell’s Bay Sculpture Park
A beautiful spot on the eastern end of Waiheke Island, home to John and Jo Gow’s stunning collection of sculptures by New Zealand artists. You have to make an appointment to visit, and need a car or bike to get there, but the organisational effort is rewarded many times over.
Whitford Beach – Turanga Creek Conservation Reserve
An absolutely gorgeous spot, home to endangered New Zealand dotterels and other birds.
Torpedo Bay Navy Museum
A well presented and free history of the New Zealand Royal Navy, set in an exquisite spot by the water at the base of North Head in Devonport. It has one of the few cafes in Auckland actually by the water, rather than by a road by the water.
Another place without road access, reached by a flight of stairs from the road end, leading down to a lovely arty community living by the water. It feels like the Coromandel but is actually in St Heliers.
Howick Historical Village
A must for any heritage fans, home to a range of buildings from the Fencible Era, giving a taste of how Auckland was in the mid to late 1800s.
Motukorea / Browns Island
The closest island in the Hauraki Gulf to the mainland, but one of the last I visited as it is only accessible by kayak or boat. The island, and the volcanic cone that formed it, is larger than it seems when passing by on the Waiheke ferry, and offers great views.
A wonderful community museum housed in an old church. The surrounding Cumbria Reserve is well worth a walk around while you’re here.
Like a smaller and much more relaxed version of Waiheke Island, Rakino is tucked around the back of Motutapu Island, behind Rangitoto. There are two ferry services a day and no facilities on the island, just houses, but it’s a pleasure to explore.
Mt Saint John
Literally overlooked by the nearby Mt Hobson, Mt Eden, and One Tree Hill, Mt Saint John is the smallest of the four but also the most tranquil, tucked behind suburbia.
Ōtāhuhu / Mount Richmond
Home to two volcanic cones, beautiful ancient trees, and long grass, this is the loveliest spot along Great South Road, perfect for short, steep runs and walks.
Hamlins Hill Mutukaroa Regional Park
Just up the road from Ōtāhuhu / Mount Richmond, this is also a pleasant and quiet spot, with views, cattle, and native bush to walk though. Anyone driving south on the Southern Motorway will have passed it by but I suspect that few have visited.
Pakuranga Rotary Shared Path
A lovely shared pathway starting shortly after the Panmure bridge which hugs the coast line up to Bucklands Beach and Musick Point.
An oasis of quiet and calm (unless you’re there during the annual three day horse riding event), close to Auckland Airport. It is a great spot for bird watchers but also just a relaxing place to explore.
Hugging the eastern shores of the Te Atatu Peninsula this is a great spot for running along a decent path, past beautiful scenery.
Kauri Glen Park
An absolute gem in the heart of Birkenhead on the North Shore, home to many native trees, including some Kauri. On a sunny summer Saturday afternoon I spent an hour there exploring the trails and didn’t see a single other person.
Awhitu Regional Park
Auckland is blessed with 27 regional parks. This is one of the quieter and more secluded ones, on the eastern shores of Awhitu Peninsula.
Rose Hellaby’s House
To end with one of the most spectacular views of the city, from the back garden of Rose Hellaby’s House on Scenic Drive in the Waitakere’s. Rose Hellaby led a fascinating life and thankfully her house (and the view) has been preserved by Auckland Council.