Here are five more great ideas for getting out and about with the kids...
1. Bike to Māngere Bridge + Ambury Farm + Onehunga
Put the bikes in the car and park as close as you can get to the water on Alfred Street in Onehunga (or catch the train to Onehunga with bikes on board). Go towards the water until you get to the bike path then turn right and follow the bike path along under the South Western Motorway until you reach the old Māngere Bridge, which is now pedestrian and cycles only. Cross here and then take Kiwi Esplanade right along the waterfront of Māngere Bridge suburb – it's a flat and easy ride with a park and other scenic spots along the way.
Your destination is Ambury Farm – a working farm run by Auckland City Council and it's a great experience for city kids to see a farm in action – they'll see cows, chickens, horses, pigs and there are regular feeding and milking shows in the sheds and an information centre. The loveliest thing about it is that it's completely free – just cycle in, lock up your bike and wander around.
Sunday evening With Colin the Clydesdale Horse 🇳🇿🌎🐴.... Ambury Regional Park, Auckland, NZ 18th June, 2017 --------------------------------------- #travel #photographylife #photooftheday #traveller #travelgram #travelpics #instadaily #instatravel #instago #photography #potd #wanderlust #landscapephotography #latergram #landscape #animalsofinstagram #horses #followforfollow #newzealand #nztravels #travelnz #worldnomads #travelphotography #auckland
Cycle back the way you came and if you're hungry head into Onehunga for plenty of lunch options – Onehunga Café is a good bet or head to The Good Home Onehunga, a cosy gastropub in the beautiful old library building in Princes Street (and they welcome kids!)
2. Top of Kitekite Falls + Piha Beach + Elevation
This is a not-too-long bushwalk through native bush off the main Piha Road down to the top of the Kitekite Waterfall – the track is called Kauri Grove Track and you have to park in a small bay on the side of the road. The bay is just before Karekare Road – if you get to Karekare Rd you've gone too far!
The main access to see Kitekite is off Glen Esk Road further down the hill, and you can follow a walking track to the bottom of the falls, but we love the track to the top for the stunning natural rock pools that are formed as Kitekite falls down the hill. The land just drops away and the view of valleys of the Waitakeres is gorgeous. And while the kids might not appreciate the view, they'll definitely like the pools and seeing how long they can keep their feet in the freezing fresh water. There are spots to sit a little further up if you don't fancy balancing on rocks for your picnic lunch.
You need to be a bit careful at this spot, the drops are steep and only bigger kids should attempt climbing down to the next pools, but use wise judgement and you'll be fine. (If you're not sure, do the walk to the bottom of the falls instead!)
Then it's a walk back to the main road and if people still have energy, there's always Piha Beach for a runaround. You could get fish and chips or ice cream from Adey's Place down in the main carpark at the southern end of the beach (Marine Place South), otherwise hop back in the car and head to Elevation for a drink and chips – this restaurant is perched on the side of the hill on Scenic Drive and has excellent views stretching all the way back to the city.
3. Bike the Coast to Coast
This is a great adventure for bigger kids who can bike a fair way or littlies who can still go in a bike seat on the back of yours. The Coast to Coast is a mapped walk that takes you from one coast of Auckland – which is New Zealand's narrowest isthmus of land. The walk is 16kms and take about 4-5 hours walking with plenty of stops at all the interesting sights on the way. Cycling it takes a shorter time of course, but I recommend leaving the day for it so there is no hurry. There's a train to Britomart (the beginning) and a station in Onehunga at the other end and you can take bikes on the trains, so no need for working out transport with cars.
The walking route (on the map on this page) goes some places where cyclists can't or won't want to but you can modify it as you go. The map below is the route we took but you can switch it up however you want and choose to go up volcanoes or not, and into the shops of various suburbs or not.
Highlights are cycling through the domain and through Cornwall Park. It's an awesome way to connect the dots in your city – and to realise that everything links up and nothing is that far away from the next place at all (though sitting in Auckland traffic would have you believe otherwise!). It's a mix of main roads and suburban streets and parks so you get a variety of views and while you may be cursing some of the many hills along the way, you'll also be very grateful for the number of excellent views they provide. Lunch can be a picnic in the domain, up Mount Eden, in Cornwall Park or up One Tree Hill.
Short detours off the track will take you to Mount Eden shops or into Newmarket if you need to stop for refreshments, though there are some places on the route too – the kiosk in the domain, the cafes in Cornwall Park and of course the shops of Onehunga at the end. Do take the detour through Jellicoe Park in Onehunga – it's a lovely little park. This is a big but excellent day, that all Aucklanders should do.
4. Auckland Domain + the Wintergardens + the museum + the Wintergarden Pavilion
An oldie but a goodie for the school holidays, there's so much to entertain in this area. Start at the Wintergardens – two beautiful display glasshouses with a courtyard in between, and a fernery off to the side for a bit of native bush action. Outside the Wintergardens and down towards the duck pond is one of the best climbing trees around – large boughs crawl along the ground so big and little kids will be able to explore and climb.
The Wintergarden Pavilion has a kiosk with sandwiches and chips and ice cream, or you can have lunch in the fully licensed cafe. There is seating outside the kiosk where you can relax while kids look at the ducks or play on the grass.
Head up to the Auckland Museum after lunch – the museum is free for Aucklanders with proof of address. In the school holidays, there are always loads of special activities for the kids and it's always easy to spend a few hours at the museum.
5. Woodhill Forest + Riverhead Tavern
Head to Muriwai Beach then turn off Muriwai Rd onto Motutara Road then take the first right for Coast Road (the fire station is on the corner). Drive to the end of the road and park in the carpark for Muriwai Beach Horse Treks. From here cross the road to the entrance to Woodhill Forest and walk through pine forest, and follow the paths till you reach a creek. Walk alongside this as far as you like – there are plenty of spots along the way to picnic (and paddle if anyone's game!). We always head along to the small sand dune about 20 minutes in – there's a little beach by a pool and it's a lovely spot to sit and play.
On the way home head to Riverhead Tavern for dinner and a drink – The Riverhead is a large venue that spills down a bank to the Rangitopuni Creek and has a pub, a restaurant, a function centre and a grass area where they have live music in summer.
Another great spot in the area is Hallertau – an excellent brewery, beer garden and restaurant on the road to The Riverhead.