Best coastal towns near Auckland, New Zealand

There are 3,100 kilometers of coastline surrounding New Zealand’s largest city. Auckland is famed for the beaches that lie along the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea, close enough to big-city life to escape for an hour or a day. Not into the beach? There are plenty of other fun things to do. Warm weather or cool weather, the Auckland coastline has something for every season.

Mission Bay

Mission Bay is 15 minutes away from downtown Auckland by car or bus. Or you can stroll there on a scenic walkway past harbors and and breathtaking views (about an hour and a half).

Mission Bay’s beach of glistening white sand is certainly the attraction, but the town is as famed for its fine dining. Cafes and restaurants along the festive promenade are trendy and casual, the best tables outside for a view of an enthralling tableau of beach, harbor and Rangitoto Island in the distance.

At the center of it all is a fountain made of brilliant Sicilian marble holding three bronze sea creatures.  The fountain “performs” throughout the day with its water flying high into the air; at night, there is the added attraction of a colorful and impressive light show.

Devonport

The picturesque village of Devonport, one of New Zealand’s first settlements, is a mere 12-minute ferry ride from Auckland. Its Cheltenham Beach is one of New Zealand’s “Top Ten,” family-friendly with the calm ocean and grassy areas for picnicking.

Stroll around the village with its array of  fine Victorian architecture. The side streets are lined with charming boutiques with their wares beautifully displayed. The art galleries are especially tempting with both traditional and contemporary works by Maori and Kiwi artists.

You can explore the town with a ride on an authentic1910-era wagon pulled by three Clydesdales. Or you can do it on a Segway! There is truly something for everyone here.

Piha

Piha is a laid-back village with a powerful, rugged coastline 45 minutes west of Auckland. The Tasman Sea thunders onto the volcanic black-sand beach that is surrounded by a craggy terrain. The water’s currents can be very strong and dangerous. This beach draws only the most experienced surfers at specific times of the year.

Sixteen million years ago, a volcano erupted and all that remains is Lion Rock, Piha’s signature landmark. As is likely obvious, the shape of the rock is that of a lion in repose. At the very top of the southern side, though, there is a sharp rock that, according to the townsfolk, looks like Queen Victoria’s profile.

An easy hike away, past trickling streams and native flora, are Kitekite Falls and Fairy Falls, a wondrous pair of waterfalls deep in the forest.

Waiheke Island

Board the ferry in downtown Auckland for a 35-minute trip to Waiheke Island. The island was “founded” by hippies back in the day and it retains that bohemian atmosphere.  There are art galleries and fine-craft boutiques that will be hard to resist for that keepsake of Auckland to take home.

The beaches of white sand at Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi on the turquoise-blue Hauraki Gulf are great spots for swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking. If you’re in the mood from something different, there’s an archery range, laser skeet shooting and a flying fox zipline.

Waiheke Island is known as the “Island of Wine” with more than a dozen high-quality vineyards. A tour will take you to upscale restaurants where you can savor the local wine while looking out over vine- covered valleys with the bright blue sea as a backdrop.

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