If you are looking for a relaxing day break from the city, Waiheke Island is the place for you. Waiheke Island is located almost directly due east of Auckland through the Tamaki Strait. The island has something for everyone: hiking, beaches, golf, wineries, olive estates, and paddle boards, bikes and kayaks to rent. It’s easy to lose the day lounging on the beach with the family or enjoying wine tasting at the vineyards. To get there from Auckland, go to the ferry terminal where the ferry leaves almost once an hour and costs $36NZD roundtrip per adult (at the date of publishing). Getting around the island once your there is easy as there are many options. Walking is the cheapest and maps of the island are free so you don’t get lost. Bikes are easy to rent and you can see more of the island in a shorter time. There are local busses that run around the island and tour busses that include stops at wineries, olive estates, or a general tour. Buy your lunch at a local market and eat it on the beach while enjoying the sun, nothing could be better.
Hobbiton is a different feel than the previous day trip and may not be for everyone, but if you love the ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movie series, then Hobbiton (and New Zealand in general) is the place for you. The Hobbiton movie set is located about 3 hours south of Auckland in a small town called Matamata and reachable by local bus (which will save you about $100 NZD). The movie set is located on a working farm and has been preserved in the exact specifications at Peter Jackson made it. The original Hobbit holes are on display including Sam and Rossie’s home, and Bag End. The Green Dragon Inn is a replica from the movies and is a working pub with beer made especially for the tours (a pint is included in the price of the ticket). If movie sets or ‘The Lord of the Rings’ excites you, then you must make this a priority stop.
New Zealand has a lot to offer and Auckland is a great starting point. There is a lot more in the surrounding area besides these two day trips and in the rest of the country. It’s an intrepid country that almost beckons you to get in touch with your inner adventurer.