North Auckland – A short ferry ride or a quick trip over the Auckland Harbour Bridge puts you on the north shore.
The North of Auckland is a mix of old townships and new developments.
Firstly, visit the historic seaside village of Devonport. Exploring the underground tunnels, gun emplacements and fortifications at North Head is a must. The volcanic cone offers incredible 360-degree views over the Hauraki Gulf and across to the city – you can even take a segway tour to the top. Take a wander through the local art galleries and see how the surrounding landscapes have inspired beautiful paintings and photographs. Browse boutique shops for unique, quality clothing and jewellery, then relax at one of Devonport’s casual-cool cafés and restaurants. Pop into the chocolaterie for handmade chocolates and truffles. There’s also a beautifully restored Victorian cinema if you fancy a flick.
And when it comes to beaches, gorgeous Cheltenham Beach is a winner. Slip off your shoes and take a stroll or a dip – the sheltered waters are perfect for families.
Takapuna is the unofficial ‘capital’ of Auckland’s North Shore. Choose from a huge range of cafés and restaurants day or night, or go Kiwi with fresh fish and chips on the beach. If you’d rather somewhere more secluded, find a quiet spot on the shores of Lake Pupuke for a picnic – it’s just a few minutes’ walk away. The lake is actually a volcanic crater and a favourite spot for rowing,sailing and canoeing. If you’re there on a Sunday, visit the lively market to find anything from fresh fruit and vegetables to crafts, furniture and antiques.Make sure you check out Takapuna’s whitesand beach for family-friendly swimming and and awesome playground (more picnic spots here too). Afterwards, stretch your legs on the heritage trail from Takapuna to Milford along the water’s edge.
Bring your wallet and go on a shopping spree at Albany’s expansive mall, with a huge range of stores from home décor and electronics to clothing, footwear and toys.
A little further along is Silverdale, with its historic museum, adventure park and the cool Snowplanet with its indoor ski resort,where you can actually ski all year round!! It has slopes and terrain for experienced skiers and beginners as well as tobogganing, snowboarding, tubing and an Austrian styled restaurant/lodge. All snow gear and equipment can be hired on site – A one-of-a-kind experience!!
In Birkenhead, there are sea views from every street so climb high and reap the rewards. Sitting 360 feet above sea level, these views stretch across the Waitemata Harbour and all the way to Rangitoto Island. Closer to the water, explore the grounds around the Chelsea Sugar Refinery, part of Auckland’s Victorian history (built in 1884, it once employed nearly all of the village’s population in Devonport, Birkenhead and Takapuna).
If you head east from Silverdale instead of continuing north, you’ll find Whangaporoa, a picture-perfect slice of land, ringed by sheltered sandy beaches. Which means plenty of water activities – swimming, fishing, kayaking, boating,stand up paddle boarding; you name it. All of the beaches are good for swimming. The best are on the northern side, especially Red Beach, Manly, Stanmore Bay and Tindall’s Bay,(a favourite with locals).
Explore the walking tracks at beautiful Shakespear Regional Park at the tip of the peninsula for stunning scenery and views over the Hauraki Gulf. Book one of the barbecues and make a day of it with the family.
Just half an hour north of Auckland’s harbour bridge, the town of Orewa spreads inland from the edge of a magnificent three kilometre beach. It’s a great destination if you like swimming, surfing, kayaking, windsurfing and kite surfing. For coastal views, you can’t beat a stroll along the Millennium Walkway.
From Orewa, its a short drive to Warkworth, a peaceful historic village that sits at the edge of the tranquil Mahurangi River.Grab a bite to eat at one of Warkworth’s cafés then make you way to Parry Kauri Park. Wander the boardwalks and see the towering 800-year old kauri trees that more than live up to their reputation as ‘the kings of the forest’. You can also get a fascinating insight into the lives of pioneering families at the historical buildings and regularly changing displays at Warkworth Museum.The Honey Centre has an interactive display that the kids will love, not to mention the tasty treats with a honey bent and the shop full of honey based products – We think you’ll find something you like!
Head to Goat Island Marine Reserve to get up close to masses of colourful fish in crystal clear waters. Goat Island is New Zealand’s first and most accessible marine reserve and an amazing spot for snorkelling and diving.