1. Walk of art
Just north of Kaukapakapa, turn off State Highway 16 and visit the Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens. A well-marked trail leads off through beautiful gardens, past a selection of works by local artists and those from further afield.
A new selection is installed once a year, but there’s always plenty to see as the garden changes by the season, plus you can ‘go bush’ and explore the lower Conservation Track, through regenerating native forest. There’s a good garden centre and café here, too, with a play area for the kids.
2. Strawberries and Smurfs
Stop off at Juicy Strawberries just east of Kumeū for fresh strawberry soft-serve or frozen yoghurt (in season) or a fantastic gelato or sorbet any time of year.
There’s a variety of fruity flavours and more indulgent choices like Ferrero Rocher, but my kids always end up choosing a scoop of bright blue Smurf (kind of a bubblegum flavour – is that really what Smurfs taste like?).
3. Sausage roll heaven
There must be something in the water in Helensville... well, something’s making for supersized sausage rolls. The size and qualities of these beauties at the Ginger Crunch Station Café had us salivating, and the variety of hand-made slices on offer makes it a real quandary to pick only one.
There’s a quirky art gallery and a little antiques shop in the station building too, but don’t hold your breath if you’re wanting to see an actual train pass by.
4. On your bike
There’s always something to see on Ōrewa’s Te Ara Tahuna Pathway cycle and walkway. Running in a loop around the estuary behind the town centre, the well-formed path offers great views of the river and its birdlife, and a peek into the massive new construction area at Millwater on the southern bank.
Once you’ve completed the 7.5km loop, grab a coffee and check out the artworks at the Estuary Arts Centre, by the bridge, or let the kids burn off the last of their energy on the great beachside playground.
Orewa's beach is a place for swimming, surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing and long, relaxing walks. The town centre has everything a visitor could need.🏖 -Swimming🏊🏼♀️ -Surfing🏄🏼 -Camping🏕 -Relaxing tracks🚶🏼 . . . #orewabeach #orewa #top10beaches #newzealand🇳🇿 #newzealandnatural #wheretogoinauckland #aucklandonline #Auckland #aucklandlife #tearatahuna #walkway #top10holidaypark #campingnz
5. Cheesy goodness
It’s a little bit off the beaten track, but it’s worth the effort to hunt out the Pūhoi Valley café and cheese shop. Just keep driving once you’ve gone through the little Pūhoi village, and keep an eye out on the left – you’ll see a car park, usually full of cars!
They’ve been making cheese here since 1983, and you can see it maturing in special temperature-controlled rooms around the outside of the café space.
There are plenty of cheesy treats on the menu, plus their award-winning ice cream, which you can only buy on site. Then you can pretend to walk it off in the beautiful gardens.