Auckland's idyllic Cornwall Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As New Zealand's most populous city, there is a wealth of great free things to do in Auckland. A fascinating and vibrant seaside city, it is home to many areas of outstanding natural beauty including beaches, nature reserves and public parks. With so much to explore, here are five Auckland Parks that you should definitely include in your itinerary.
Waitakere Ranges Regional Park
The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is just a 40-minute drive from the city centre but this 16,000-hectare treasure feels like a different world. Over 250-km of walking tracks allow you to explore the pristine bush and native forest, enjoy glimpses of the great variety of local wildlife, reach hidden pools and spectacular waterfalls, or marvel at the spectacular rugged black sand coastline. The variety of natural beauty that can be enjoyed here makes a visit to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park one of the most popular activities in Auckland.
Without even leaving the city you can enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the 670-acre Cornwall Park
. Stroll along Puriri Drive and enjoy the beauty of the variety of trees planted along the way, or lose yourself in the intoxicating scents of the rose garden or among the Magnolia collection. Climb up to the top of the volcanic One Tree Hill and enjoy a panoramic view, discover the remains of an important early Maori fortification, marvel at the 33-m high obelisk and visit the grave of the park's founder, Sir John Logan Campbell. Cornwall Park also houses some excellent eating places and is a popular setting for many Auckland activities and events.
The Auckland Domain
is also found close to the city centre, and this park houses some of the top things to do in Auckland including the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Cenotaph. This is the city's oldest park and covers a total of 75-hectares, which includes manicured formal gardens, wild open spaces, lively duck ponds and pristine bush walks. The Wintergarden Complex is a fascinating botanical garden which includes two greenhouses which house both temperate and tropical plants, and a fernery which is located within an old quarry. This is a protected heritage site and a relaxing place to spend the afternoon, so, not surprisingly it is one of the most popular free things to do in Auckland.
Long Bay Regional Park
Just 30-minutes north of the city centre you can visit the North Shore's trendy Long Bay Regional Park. This park offers lots of fun things to do in Auckland with a great variety of water sports including fishing, kayaking, and boating, so If you're visiting the city, it's definitely worth hiring an Auckland rental car
and making the trip. Long Bay Beach offers safe swimming areas throughout the warmer months, or explore the world beneath the water, diving or snorkelling within the marine reserve. Take a stroll along the golden sand beach, or a cliff top walk with stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf. Head off on one of the well-marked trails through the spectacular mature native forest or visit the historic Vaughan Homestead. Why not bring a picnic or fire up the barbeque under the shade of the trees? Here you can find a great choice of cheap things to do in Auckland.
Situated between the mouths of the Puhoi and the Waiwera Rivers, just a 40-minute drive north of the city is the spectacular Wenderholm Park. This was the first regional park to be established in the Auckland area in 1965. The calm waters, golden beaches and open grassy areas make this a favourite with families and one of the most visited attractions in Auckland. Hire a kayak and take a paddle up river to discover the historic village of Puhoi or take a dip in the tempting blue waters. Visit the colonial Couldrey House with its magnificent gardens or take a walk through the native forest and enjoy some impressive views from the headland.