Piha Beach, on the wild Tasman coast, is famous for the Lion Rock vistas, black sand beaches, great surf and deadly rips. If you venture into the water, do so only between the lifeguard flags. Changing rooms, a shop and campground are available. If coming in summer, bring plenty of sunscreens and a hat as it can be blistering hot on the black sand. The beach is also spectacular on a wild, windy day. From north Piha, there are walking tracks to more secluded beaches.
Surrounded by the water, Waiheke Island is known to be the second-largest island of the Hauraki Gulf. Freckled with an abundance of caves, the island branches into several peninsulas, breaking up the coast into a series of tranquil bays. The island's beaches are spotless and a popular choice for family picnics. Visitors may also wander around the island along the various trails that riddle its cliffs and slopes. Waiheke houses many art galleries and sports facilities, as well as a cinema, a theater and various wineries. Waiheke Island's prime attractions include the Whakanewha Regional Park, the Waiheke Community Art Gallery, the Oneroa Bay, Onetangi Beach, the Cascades Waterfall and Pohutukawa Reserve.
Located in the heart of Piha's tropical forests is Kitekite Falls, a beautiful tri-level 40 meter (131 feet) waterfall that that flows into a pristine pool. After a comfortable trek through lush forests, visitors are rewarded with the sight of gorgeous white ribbons of cascading water bordered by tall towering trees and Nikau Palms. Take along a picnic and enjoy it on the banks of the pool after a refreshing swim. The adventurous can swim under the falls to emerge behind the sheet of tumbling water. This place is great for a casual hike or a picnic with family and friends and should not be missed.
Also known as Maungakiekie, One Tree Hill is a terrestrial elevation which is characterized by typical volcanic features like scoria cones. This volcanic peak was once marked by a single 120-year-old Totara tree at the top, which was later cut down leaving only the stump to mark its existence. The land is now interspersed with a few trees which were later planted by the Tupuna Maunga Authority in 2016. The summit of Maungakiekie features a very prominent obelisk, fronted by the statue of a Māori warrior, it's lofty perch granting a panoramic view of the surroundings. Underneath the obelisk lies the burial place of Sir John Logan Campbell, who was actively involved in the construction of this memorial to the Māoris. An elevated swathe of open land, One Tree Hill is an ideal location for stargazing.
Just a short walk east from the city center, Auckland Domain is New Zealand's oldest municipal park. Founded in 1840 by Governor Hobson, the Domain features the Auckland War Memorial Museum, an outdoor fernery and botanic The Wintergardens, a band rotunda (watch for free concerts on summer weekends), sculptures, lawn bowls, kiosks and more. The Domain is the location of the huge concerts such as Coca Cola Christmas in the Park when 300,000 people jam in for a night of music and fireworks.
Fo Guang Shan Temple is a beautiful example of Asian temple architecture and is a place of true peace and serenity. The temple welcomes visitors and features fantastic and awe-inspiring statues of Buddha, well-maintained grounds, a small eatery that serves delicious meals, and a souvenir shop. Prayer services are frequently conducted for the religious. A visit to the Fo Guang Shan Temple is definitely a must when in the city.
Jonathan Grant Galleries were established in 1984, specializing mainly in 19th and 20th century English and continental paintings. They also deal in antipodean painting and historical New Zealand watercolors. Some more recent New Zealand artists found at Jonathan Grant include Jan Nigro (painting), Josephine Davis, Ion Brown and Ken Kendall (bronze sculpture). The Galleries also provide a specialized conservation and restoration service, valuations, an art consulting service, and they make gold-leafed frames. In 1988 the galleries were expanded to include Artists Gallery next door, specializing in contemporary New Zealand work, and Dilana Artists' Rugs, a permanent display in "the Basement".
Enjoy a relaxing wine and food tour where you can be picked up in a luxury car with a small group. During the tour you can enjoy the beautiful scenery and it includes lunch and coffee or tea. There are different types of tours, including Great Food and Wine Tour as well as the Half Day Tour.
Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is an expansive water reserve that is home to thousands of wildlife and plant species. Covering an area of almost 1.2 million hectares, this amazing park covers almost 50 islands and offers you an array of exciting experiences to engage in. One of the most popular activities here is island hopping where you can get a front seat to all the beauty this massive marine park has to offer. Engage in a hiking trail, go bird watching, or simply take a walk on the beach and unwind with your loved ones.
The Muriwai Gannet Colony sits on the cliffs overlooking Muriwai Beach, Maori Bay, and two offshore islands. This place is all action between September and February, with chicks hatching in the spring and flying off to Australia at the age of 15 weeks. They return three to seven years later to repeat the process. The views from the lookouts are spectacular with booming surf, extruded pillow lava formations in the cliffs and gannets soaring in the breeze.