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Source: Auckland Council

Auckland’s regional parks are outdoor playgrounds with walking, mountain biking, swimming and bird watching all on offer. Load up the car with picnic blankets, snacks and walking shoes, and enjoy a day trip with your whole family at these three regional parks.

Āwhitu Regional Park

Āwhitu Regional Park is found on the Āwhitu Peninsula, reached via a short 30-minute drive through the gentle green landscapes of Waiuku. Its location on the edge of Manukau Harbour means the park has calm swimming spots at two sandy beaches, as well as protected coastal wetlands.

Find a sheltered picnic spot or explore one of the walking tracks in the park. There’s plenty to see along the trails, with sheep and cattle grazing the surrounding pastureland and abundant tui, kereru and fantails in the bush. On the Āwhitu Brook Homestead Path, you’ll find a historic kauri cottage in a glade of impressive trees. The homestead offers a glimpse into family life back in the early 20th century.

Mountain bikes are another mode of exploring; the Settlers Farm Track is a three-kilometre loop covering most of the park. 

Tāwharanui Regional Park

Close to Auckland but a world away, Tāwharanui Regional Park offers both beach and bush for adventurous families, and is only a 20-minute drive from the popular Matakana Village.

Roll out your beach towels at one of the sheltered bays. Their pristine water is a haven for swimmers, surfers, snorkelers and kayakers.

Or explore the network of trails crisscrossing the peninsula. Choose from walks that will take you through native bush, past regenerating wetlands and high above coastal scenery. On the Ecology Path, introduce your kids to the area’s incredible natural heritage. See if you can spot the resident takahe, kaka, saddlebacks and other precious native birds that call this open sanctuary home.

Tāwharanui Regional Park

Ātiu Creek Regional Park

One of the most recently established regional parks and largest farm, Ātiu Creek is 90 minutes from central Auckland and has space for all. Whether you’re there to walk, bike or take your horse for a ride the trails and tracks are designed for all. Tracks vary from 500m to 8km so there’s plenty to explore.

Whilst you stroll, ride or trot you’ll notice everything from pou kaitiaki, which stands as guardian over all who visit the park, to farm animals and native birds such as fantails (piwakawaka), and tūī in the forest and scrublands and white-faced herons, kingfishers (kōtare) and fernbirds (mātātā) inhabiting the pasture, shoreline and salt marshes.

Enjoy views over the Kaipara Harbour whilst you picnic, there’s heaps of picturesque spots to put down a blanket.