Heading south-east of Auckland City, the Manukau City coast is an often overlooked location. Head out of Auckland via the scenic route, through the lush farmlands of Whitford or Clevedon roads. Beyond Whitford, lies Pine Harbour marina (where you can catch a ferry to downtown Auckland) and the Formosa Golf Course and the Manukau beach communities of Maraetai, Beachlands, Orere Point and the Wairoa River, leading inland to Clevedon (Te Wairoa). This part of the coastline was a traditional feeding ground for Māori, especially Ngāi Tai (Hauraki) and was fought over many times through the centuries. Today, Clevedon is a great gourmet destination. There are ‘foodie’ tours, vineyards, restaurants, an oyster farm and a Farmer’s Market every Sunday morning. You could also participate in a polo match, play golf, try clay pigeon shooting, go four-wheel driving, or declare war on your friends in a paintball game.
The Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa, just off State Highway 1, are well worth a visit any time of year. There is also a new bike trail nearby in Totara Park. If you have children to amuse, Ambury Farm Park near Mangere Bridge has lots of farm animals you can visit for free.
Head east from Papakura and you’ll come to the Hunua Ranges, and the largest native forest in the Auckland region. Take a picnic to the regional park and enjoy bush, streams,dams and waterfalls, with lots of scope to hike, swim or mountain-bike. Drive out to East Coast Road and you can continue south with lovely scenery to Miranda and “the Seabird Coast”. You can stop for fish and chips at Kaiaua, learn about Wrybill and other birds at the Shorebird Centre, and soak in the famous hot springs at Miranda.
Franklin district stretches from the southern end of Manukau Harbour to where the Waikato River meets the sea. Places like Clarks Beach and the Awhitu Peninsula have long been home to historic Kiwi baches. Read Nola Smith’s Bach Story: Golden Days at Big Bay.
Further south, the sleepy, bach community of Port Waikato sits at the mouth of the Waikato River. A good place to visit all year around, Port Waikato is great for winter beach walks, safe harbour swimming and of course, beautiful sunsets.
What to do:
• visit Clevedon for the Farmer’s Market, gourmet tours, vineyards, polo or paintball
• take the kids fishing off the wharf at Maraetai
• visit the Auckland Botanic Gardens (just off SH1 in Manurewa)
• cycle the mountain-bike cycle ways at Totara Park
• cycle along the Seabird Coast and farewell the godwits and other migratory birds
• hike the Hunua Ranges Waharau Ridge Trail or try orienteering
• soak in Miranda’s natural hot springs
• visit Manukau’s South Head lighthouse
• head out to the surf at Karioitahi Beach and watch the hangliders catch updrafts from the dunes
• go floundering, collect shellfish or go kayaking at Awhitu Peninsula
• watch the sunset over the dunes at Port Waikato
- www.aucklandnz.com - for more info on Auckland
- regionalparks.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz - Ambury, and southern Auckland Regional Parks
- www.aucklandbotanicgardens.co.nz - Auckland Botanical Gardens
- www.aucklandmtb.co.nz - Totara Park cycle ways
- www.pineharbour.co.nz - what to do in Pine Harbour marina, near Whitford
- www.clevedon.co.nz - what to do in Clevedon
- www.miranda-shorebird.org.nz - Miranda Shorebird Centre
- www.mirandahotsprings.co.nz - Miranda Hot Springs