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Auckland is a big city, geographically speaking. Its position between two harbours makes it long and thin. There’s no shortage of beaches close to the city, but there’s also plenty of green space, and relaxation places that offer different vibes. Because of Auckland's size, getting around by car, especially to its furthest corners, really is the best way to go. Hiring a car through VroomVroomVroom's rental comparison website is super easy, and guarantees you a great deal. Here’s a selection of some well-known spots, and hidden gems:
Ambury Farm Park: This is an Auckland Regional Park, run by the Auckland City Council, on the shores of the Manukau Harbour. It’s only about 10 minutes’ drive from the international airport, so makes a good diversion on a travelling day when you have time to kill. A feature of this park is that it is a working farm. See the dairy cows being milked every day at 10 am. You can walk in the paddocks with the animals; except during lambing season, which runs from mid-July to early August. There’s a few camping sites available, and parking for self-contained campers. From the park, you can walk or ride the Watercare Coastal Walkway for 7kms back to the cool urban village of Mangere Bridge for great coffee.
Tapapakanga Regional Park: Tapapakanga is another Auckland Council regional park. It is just over an hour’s drive from central Auckland, through some of the most scenic city-edge countryside. You’ll go through the rural town of Clevedon; which is an emerging wine region, and has a fantastic farmer’s market on Sundays. At Tapapakanga, you can pitch your tent right beside the beach. If you’re in a camper, there’s several options, the most popular being the Seaview campground. Confusingly, this campground doesn’t have a sea view, but it does have a cool hill-side track through the bush to the beach. Tapapakanga also has a fresh water lagoon to dip in. In February each year, the park is transformed as the venue for the music and arts festival, Splore. Party-goers arrive by car, camper, or anchor boats off the beach, and delight in great sounds, costumes, and delicious food, all on the foreshore.
Cornwall Park: A green oasis in the city, this park was established on land gifted by one of the city’s founders, Sir John Logan Campbell. The park is centred on the volcanic cone of One Tree Hill. Walk or drive the path to the summit, and take in the stunning views of both harbours.
Silo Park: A newish space on Auckland’s regenerated waterfront. It has a great playground to appeal to families, but is close to the bars and restaurants of the Wynyard Quarter. In summer it hosts a vibrant market, and movies are played on the giant silos in the evening. There’s adequate metered parking for your car in adjacent streets.
Omana Regional Park: Just 40 minutes driving time from the central city, is this council run park with amazing views of the Hauraki Gulf. Stay the night at the Clifftop Campground in your tent or camper. You can swim off the shelly beach at high-tide. Head back to the sea-side suburb on Maraetai, just 5 minutes away, for superb café culture.