10. HEAD NORTH AND MAKE THE MOST OF THE COAST
Point the campervan north up the motorway to Whangateu Holiday Park, near Leigh, which offers waterfront camping close to Goat Island Marine Reserve. It’s also hard to go past Mangawhai Heads for a quick waterside break. But don’t forget - the glorious Bay of Islands just four hour’s drive from the big smoke is a brilliant getaway. Get some good miles under your wheels on day one then break your journey with an overnight stop somewhere like the Tutukaka Holiday Park near stunning Matapouri Bay.
9. GO SOUTH TO WAIKATO
The Waikato Region is best known internationally as the home of Hobbiton. It stretches from the golden beaches of Coromandel Peninsula to west coast black sand settlements like Kawhia and Raglan and lovely Port Waikato. Just 1.5 hours from Auckland, Port Waikato has something for all types of travellers from surfers to fishers, and trampers to history buffs. Start your weekend explorations of the Waikato Region here, and work your way south and east during subsequent mini-breaks throughout the year.
8. DRIVE EAST BEYOND THE SUBURBS
Beyond the eastern suburbs is the Seabird Coast, a spectacular touring route ideal for campervanners and motorhomers, stretching from Clevedon to the Firth of Thames and beyond to Coromandel Peninsula. It’s winding so take care on the roads, but the views are worth it. Begin at Orere Point, an hour from the city. Here you’ll enjoy river and beach swimming, as well as kayaking and surf when it’s pumping. You’ll also be poised for day access to walking and swimming at three regional parks –Tawhitokino, Tapakanga and Hunua Ranges. Down the road is the Miranda Shorebird Centre and the Hot Springs. Alternatively, you can park up and free camp on the coast at Rays Rest.
7. WET AND WILD WEST
For a short break from the city, it’s hard to go past the west coast beaches of Piha, Karekare and Muriwai. Popular camping options combine beach access and forest walks in the nearby Waitakere Ranges. If you are looking for a wilder experience, Whatipu is worth the long and winding drive. There you’ll find a rustic DOC campground. But as with all of these unmanned west coast beaches, rips and unexpected tide surges can be dangerous to the unwary.
6. TAKE TO THE BIKE AND TRY THE TRAILS
Nga Haeranga – New Zealand’s national cycle network - can be accessed close to Auckland. Try the two-day Twin Coast Trail from the Bay of Islands to the Hokianga, or the shorter southern Hauraki Rail Trail through the Karangahape Gorge as but two of the numerous short break options. The Waikato Region is home to some of the nation’s top cyclists and offers plenty of family-friendly cycle paths along the river bank.
5. CATCH A WAVE
Anyone who loves a good surf break will know that flexibility is key. Raglan is a great choice for consistency, as are most west coast beaches primed by the prevailing wind. Great Barrier Island’s beach breaks are legendary. Closer to the city, Piha and Mangawhai Heads are hard to beat. Or try the north east coast at Tawharanui and camp in the regional park.
4. GO OFFSHORE AND GET AWAY FROM THE CROWDS
Vehicular ferries leave from the heart of the city, meaning you can take the camper or motorhome with you! Take a half day sail to glorious Great Barrier Island – a world of its own. Enjoy incredible beaches with renowned surf breaks, bush walks and remote camping options in DOC-administered campgrounds. Closer, with a great mix of beaches and vineyards is Waiheke Island. There is no pumpout facility on Waiheke, but it’s perfect for a short break.
3. IMMERSE YOURSELF IN CULTURE
Learn more about our land, its history and its people with a short break to immerse yourself culturally. The tour of Waitangi Treaty Grounds is highly recommended as a wonderful way to find out what’s behind the ongoing debate about the governance of New Zealand. Guests from overseas will be blown away by the hospitality and rich cultural tourism at Rotorua where geysers, mudpools and marae visits are on offer.
2. TOWN AND COUNTRY - THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
If you want the best of both worlds, the top picks for destinations to suit the majority of tastes include Mount Maunganui, Mangawhai, Whangarei and Cambridge. All of these offer a campground located a short stroll from the action where both great food and activities abound. Or hit the shops and gardens, if that suits you better.
1. GO WILD AT OUR REGIONAL PARKS
Auckland has 29 regional parks. You be spoiled for choice finding a getaway to suit. Scandretts Regional Park is a short drive away for beaches, walks and camping on an historic farm. Ditto Shakepear Regional Park at the end of the Whangaparoa Peninsula which includes Waterfall Valley and Te Haruhi Bay Campground. South, the Hunua Ranges Regional Park rivals the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park in size, but offers numerous camping options. Waiheke Island’s only campground is at Whakanewa.