Auckland for adventurers: the hit list

Think Queenstown has all the adventure hotspots? Think again. New Zealand's largest city has plenty to offer, for the ultimate adrenaline rush.

Paragliding is one of many extreme adventures in Auckland.
  • Joe Fagan
  • April 2019

If you’re looking for a destination that will get your heart racing, look no further than Auckland and get started on planning an action-packed holiday. Outdoorsy types are spoiled for choice when it comes to activities – add these to your to-do list...

Paraglide over Muriwai Beach

For a bird’s-eye view of the city, try paragliding. Soak up the silence and the feeling of weightlessness as you take off and glide over the city. Wings and Waves offers tandem flights so anyone can give it a go – but be warned: from the moment you’re airborne on your first tandem flight, you will be hooked. Luckily, the same operator offers courses so you can fly solo. You’re only allowed to fly over designated sites; popular ones include North Head and Muriwai Beach.

Climb a volcano

If you’ve heard Auckland is hilly, you’ve heard right. The city is built on about 50 volcanoes. One of the best ways to see town and challenge yourself is on a volcano run. I like to start at Auckland Domain then go south to Mount Eden, Mount Hobson, Mount St John and One Tree Hill. Bring a map as there are often many tracks up or down the mountains.

The city views are worth the hike up Mount Eden
The city views are worth the hike up Mount Eden.

Go mountain biking on Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, is a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland CBD. While it’s known as a spot for holiday homes and vineyards, there’s so much more to the island. You can rent a mountain bike from Fullers ferry and collect it when they drop you off at Matiata Wharf, on the western side of the island. For the best tracks, head to the eastern side where the gravel roads make for a challenging ride. The ride starts in Onetangi and takes about four hours. Afterwards, head back to Oneroa and grab takeaway fish and chips from The Local for a picnic on the beach.

Explore the many bike trails around Waiheke Island
Explore the many bike trails around Waiheke Island.

Try coasteering in Takapuna

Coasteering is a combination of hiking, climbing and swimming along a coast and it’s the perfect way to see the best of the country’s coastlines. You can adjust it to make it as challenging as you want – if you’re not comfortable in the water, go at low tide. Start in Takapuna and work your way south to Cheltenham Beach. Just make sure to check conditions before you head out.

Hike Goldie Bush Walkway

Start an hour west of Auckland and do one of my favourite hikes – the Goldie Bush Walkway, adding the Mokoroa Stream and Falls tracks to enjoy native forest, waterfalls and picturesque streams. Many paths in the Waitakere Ranges are closed due to a disease that’s killing the native Kauri tree, so check closures online before you set out. Stay on the tracks and clean your shoes before you go and at the cleaning stations – you could be fined if you don’t.

Trek deep into the rainforest on the Goldie Bush Walkway
Trek deep into the rainforest on the Goldie Bush Walkway.

Break at Takapuna Beach Cafe

Bookend your coasteering trip with two Auckland favourites. Takapuna Beach Cafe does great breakfast and coffee and has even better views over the beach and Rangitoto, an island volcano. At the other end, Cheltenham Milk Bar is famous locally for its tasty smoothies and shakes.

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