The Best Day Trips From Auckland

Hot List Inspiration

Our guide to the best day self-guided trips from Auckland

Book Top Experiences and Tours in Auckland:
If youʻre booking your trip to Auckland last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours and experiences!
View All Experiences
Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, is not only a vibrant urban hub but also a gateway to breathtaking natural wonders.  If you are visiting Auckland and have some spare time, consider taking a day trip to explore the surrounding areas. 

From stunning islands to geothermal wonders, here are some of the best day trips from Auckland that will leave you in awe.

Exploring the Beauty of Waiheke Island

Just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island is a paradise waiting to be discovered.  Known for its picturesque vineyards, pristine beaches, and charming villages, this island offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.

Getting to Waiheke Island
To reach Waiheke Island, hop on a ferry from Auckland's waterfront.  The journey itself is a delightful experience as you sail across the sparkling waters of the Hauraki Gulf.  Once you arrive, you can easily explore the island on foot, by bike, or by renting a car.

Top Attractions on Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island boasts a plethora of attractions for nature lovers, wine enthusiasts, and art aficionados alike.  Start your day trip with a visit to one of the many vineyards, where you can indulge in wine tastings and enjoy stunning views of the vine-covered hills.  Afterward, head to one of the island's beautiful beaches, such as Oneroa or Onetangi, for a refreshing swim or a leisurely stroll along the shore.  If you're feeling adventurous, you can also try paddleboarding or kayaking in the crystal-clear waters.

Don't miss the opportunity to explore the quaint villages dotted around the island.  Oneroa, with its charming shops and restaurants, is a great place to grab a bite to eat and browse unique local crafts.  If you're interested in art, the Waiheke Community Art Gallery showcases works by talented local artists.

Discovering the Charm of Rotorua

Located about three hours' drive from Auckland, Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity and rich Maori culture.  This vibrant city offers a unique blend of natural wonders and cultural experiences that will captivate your senses.

Traveling to Rotorua from Auckland
It's around a 3 hour drive to Rotorua. If you prefer not to drive, several tour companies offer day trips to Rotorua from Auckland.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic journey as you travel through rolling farmlands and countryside.

Must-Visit Spots in Rotorua
Upon arrival in Rotorua, you'll be greeted by the distinctive smell of sulfur, a testament to the city's geothermal activity.  A visit to one of the geothermal parks, such as Wai-O-Tapu or Te Puia, is a must.  Witness the boiling mud pools, erupting geysers, and vibrant thermal pools that showcase the Earth's raw power.

Immerse yourself in Maori culture by visiting a traditional Maori village.  Experience a captivating cultural performance, indulge in a Hangi feast cooked using geothermal steam, and learn about the rich history and traditions of the Maori people.  The Redwoods is another great attraction on the outskirts of the city with a Treewalk through the towering redwood trees. for a realxing spa, head to the Polynesian Spa overlooking Lake Rotorua.

If you're up for an adrenaline rush, Rotorua offers plenty of adventure activities.  Test your courage with a thrilling zipline tour through the native forests or try your hand at rafting down the exhilarating rapids of the Kaituna River.

Unveiling the Mysteries of Waitomo Glowworm Caves

A little over two hours' drive from Auckland lies the enchanting Waitomo Glowworm Caves.  This underground wonderland is home to thousands of mesmerizing glowworms that light up the darkness like a starry sky.  First discovered in 1187, the caves were formed from limestone more than 30 million years ago.  

Journey to Waitomo
Embark on a scenic drive south from Auckland, enjoying the rural landscapes along the way.  As you arrive at Waitomo, you'll soon realize that this hidden gem is worth the journey. 

What to Expect in the Glowworm Caves
Explore the underground marvels of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves on a guided tour.  Wander through labyrinthine limestone formations and marvel at the subterranean beauty illuminated by the glowworms above. The sight of these tiny creatures twinkling like stars is truly magical.  If you're seeking a more adventurous experience, opt for a thrilling black water rafting tour.  Float through the cave network on an inner tube, guided only by the glowworms' ethereal light.

Experiencing the Thrill of Hobbiton Movie Set

If you're a fan of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" movies, a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set is a dream come true.  Located about two hours' drive south of Auckland, this meticulously crafted replica of the Shire will transport you to the magical world of Middle-earth.

How to Reach Hobbiton
The actual movie set is located about 5 minutes drive outside the town of Matamata.  If you're driving from Auckland you will pass through the town so it's a good place to stop for a bite to eat.  It's a 72km drive from Rotorua and is fairly direct along State Highway 5 heading towards Tirau.  It's then onto State highway 27 then 29.  The easiest way to reach the Hobbiton Movie Set is by joining a guided tour from Auckland.  Sit back, relax, and let the tour take care of transportation and logistics. 

Highlights of the Hobbiton Tour
When you arrive at the Hobbiton Movie Set, a knowledgeable guide will lead you through the lush green pastures and hobbit holes.  Explore the quaint village, visit iconic locations such as Bilbo's house and the Green Dragon Inn, and learn fascinating behind-the-scenes stories about the film production.  Indulge in a refreshing Hobbiton-themed drink at the Green Dragon Inn and soak in the tranquil ambiance of this magical place before returning to Auckland.

Soaking in the Scenery of Coromandel Peninsula

If you crave pristine beaches, lush forests, and stunning coastal scenery, a day trip to the Coromandel Peninsula is a must.  This picturesque region is located about two and a half hours' drive southeast of Auckland.

The Route to Coromandel Peninsula
Embark on a scenic road trip as you make your way to the Coromandel Peninsula. The journey itself is a feast for the eyes, with majestic mountains, rolling farmlands, and sparkling coastal vistas.

Not-to-Miss Sights in Coromandel Peninsula
Coromandel Peninsula offers an abundance of natural wonders to explore.  Start with a visit to Cathedral Cove, a breathtaking beach framed by towering cliffs and natural rock formations.  Take a scenic hike through native bushland to reach this idyllic spot.  A must-visit attraction in Coromandel is the famous Hot Water Beach.  Dig your own natural hot pool in the sand and enjoy a relaxing soak amidst the ocean waves.

For a unique wildlife encounter, head to the nearby town of Whitianga and embark on a sea kayaking tour to see the mesmerizing glowworms in the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve caves.

Goat Island

Goat Island Marine Reserve is a 518 hectare marine reserve situated off Leigh, approximately 80 kilometres north of downtown Auckland. Formed in 1975, it's New Zealand's first marine reserve that covers the area between Cape Rodney and Okakari Point.

Goat Island Marine Reserve and its clear waters offer the perfect environment to snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.  In a quiet and secluded spot, it's an opportunity to observe the rich marine life in numbers rarely seen anywhere else on the coast.  The reserve is renowned as one of the best locations for snorkeling and diving in New Zealand, attracting divers of all levels of experience. The protected waters of Goat Island Marine Reserve are home to big snapper, blue cod, crayfish, eagle rays, goatfish, piper, red moki, parore and many more species of fish.


With so many incredible day trips to choose from, Auckland is truly a gateway to unforgettable adventures. Whether you prefer exploring pristine islands, delving into geothermal wonders, immersing yourself in fantasy worlds, or soaking in the beauty of coastal landscapes, these day trips will undoubtedly leave you with cherished memories of your time in New Zealand.

Tour Deals:

If you fancy booking a tour to any of the regions mentioned, check our 'Experiences' section for the latest and best tour deals on offer.