With many locals leaving for a change of scenery this summer, Auckland’s usual traffic vanishes, making those few weeks during the Christmas and New Year break arguably the best time to explore the hidden jewels of this vast city.

One such gem, an easy 20-minute drive West from downtown, features globally renowned wines, black sandy beaches, idyllic rolling hills, forests bursting with punga along with pohutukawas that punctuate the coastline. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family trip filled with activities, or a fun day trip with friends, West Auckland has a little something for everyone.

Take in the views from Te Henga Walkway
While there are big sections of the Waitakere ranges now off-limits to try and control Kauri dieback, the coastal tracks like Te Henga Walkway are still open. Te Henga Walkway goes from Bethells Beach (Te Henga) to Muriwai. It features breathtaking views over the Tasman Sea, the wild west coast, and is probably the best spot to take in a sunset.

Learn to surf at Muriwai
Muriwai Surf School offers lessons from qualified professional instructors in a fun and safe environment. Their popular “introduction to surfing” lessons are held daily at 10:30 am and 3:00 pm. They are two hours long and include surfboard & wetsuit hire.

Mountain Bike through Woodhill Forest
For a boost of adrenaline make your way to Woodhill Forest’s mountain bike park. With over 100 bikes for hire, get your blood pumping surrounded by overarching pines then refuel at the mountain bike cafe.

Horse Trek Muriwai Beach
Enjoy a peaceful horseback ride along the picturesque black sand beaches of Muriwai. Muriwai Beach Horse Treks have options for casual riders, complete beginners to the more experienced adventurer.

Riverhead Strawberry Picking
Visit Zoberri farms in Riverhead for a sweet treat and forage for your own berries to take home – or eat immediately. Don’t forget to try a house-made real fruit ice-cream on your way out.

The Hunting Lodge
Gaze upon rolling hills with a glass of award-winning wine at Waimauku institute, The Hunting Lodge. Situated on a unique 80-acre estate, the winery features a Cellar Door & Lawn Bar, separate from their main restaurant. This is the place to be when you want a laid-back summer experience. Grab a table, picnic blanket or a spot on the grass to enjoy relaxed sharing style food that is seriously good. Paired with a variety of beer and wine tasting paddles to send you into sweet bliss.

The Lawn Bar & Cellar Door will be open 7 days from 11 am – 7:30 pm for the Christmas break, 27th December – 10th January.

Want to stay on? The Hunting Lodge recently added Wildernest to their estate, an idyllic private glamping quarter, perched on the hillside overlooking the vines. If there’s more than two of you, the architecturally designed Parihoa Farm has multiple accommodation options each with their own unique character.

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