New Zealand is a terrific family destination, with its natural attractions such as mountains and beaches; outdoor activities including hiking, snorkeling and bicycling; and myriad attractions ranging from spotting wildlife to theme parks to museums to fantasy lands. New Zealand’s largest and most diverse city, Auckland is an urban environment within 30 minutes of beaches, hiking trails and islands. Here, we take a look at the family-friendly city.
To The Beach
When it comes to beaches, there are plenty to choose from within close proximity to Auckland. The west coast beaches are less than an hour from the city but provide dramatic vistas and places to explore. Karekare Beach is one of the region’s most spectacular, and is ideal for walking and there is even the Karekare Falls, a waterfall just a few minutes’ walk inland. Another to check out is Muriwai Beach with its cliff-top trails from which you and your family may be able to spot a colony of gannets (August to March). The black-sand beaches are impressive here, too.
With seemingly countless islands offshore, island time is easy to find during a visit to Auckland. Waiheke Island, a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown, is known for its wine, but there are plenty of ways for your family to have fun here, too. Its sandy beaches — Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi — are off of the Hauraki Gulf and idea for swimming, kayaking or even a quiet picnic. Or, hike along the trails along the island’s cliff tops, forest and beaches.
Great Barrier Island is another to visit, and attractive to families with its forests, beaches and bays. Here you can walk through the native forest to natural hot springs and a historic Kauri dam, or up Hirakimata (Mount Hobson), 2,057 feet above sea level with panoramic views. SCUBA diving, snorkeling, fishing, surfing, kayaking, mountain biking and camping are also popular activities on Great Barrier Island.
In the City
Back in the city, get the adrenaline flowing by walking on the edge of the Sky Tower nearly 630 feet off the ground. Or, if you’re even more daring, you can jump! For another leap of faith, bungee jump from the Auckland Harbor Bridge into the Waitemata Harbour, or just climb the bridge instead.
For a bit less adrenaline but still loads of fun, the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail is a terrific way to add a bit of culture into your Auckland wine country walkabout. Or, dive into the Coast to Coast Walkway and traverse the width of the country — in a day!