The historic suburb of Devonport is located only a short drive away from Auckland downtown. Depending on what kind of activities you are after, Devenport has somethng for everyone. While the heart of Devenport is home to a number of galleries, boutique fashion outlets, restaurants, bars and coffee shops, the outer areas host many beautiful walking trails, beaches and volcanic mountains.
As Estralians are always looking for great views we didn’t spend much time at the wharf area. Instead, we headed out to find the best view. After a bit of research we found that two of the best views are visible from Mt Victoria and North Head. While both of the volcanic mountains have 360 degree views, North Head Historic Reserve is definitely more interesting. Beside the spectacular views this historic reserve also has military tunnels, bunkers and gun emplacements.
As mentioned before, Devenport also has some nice beaches – Stanley Bay, Torpedo Bay, Devenport Beach, Narrowneck Beach and Cheltenham Beach. Out of those five beaches Cheltenham Beach takes the trophy. It has long stretch of fine sand, calm waters and best of all, magical views over Rangitoto Island.
Only 24 minute drive from Auckland downtown, in a charming town called Torbay, is Waiake Beach. This sandy beach offers great views, rock climbing, large picnic areas, and a playground. The water is quite calm so it’s perfect for swimming, kayaking and fishing.
When we arrived to the beach we instatli noticed an interesting rock with some vegetation. Without a single word, all three of us (us and Ivan) started walking toward it.
Once we reached the base of the rock we noticed a narrow and steep path going up. The path had a rope that seemed to be on it’s last stretch. Although it looked rather dangerous and there was a sign stating “Warning, rocks falling” we decided to try to climb up anyway. Half way up it was clear that the condition of the path was even worse than it first seemed. We realised that making the climb with flip-flops was stupid…so we decided to ditch our footwear and keep going.
As you can see from the picture, the climb is short (I’d say ~9 meters) and thus it didn’t take long to reach the top. Once we accomplished to pull ourselves safely up it was time to catch a breath and enjoy spectacular views over the Hauraki Gulf. Later on we found out that this rock we conquered is called The Tor.
PS! The climb down was even more difficult, with one of us nearly facing a 3 meter fall down to the rocks. Luckily the rope that I mentioned before was secure enough to save the day. If you think that this climb seems something you are interested in doing, we recommend to plan your climb during the low tide.
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On the same day that we conquered The Tor in Torbay, we also had a quick adventure in the Shakespear Regional Park. This gorgeous sanctuary is located at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsular on Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast. The park is huge and has many walking tracks, picnic spots, camping sites and three beaches to choose from.
When we entered the park we drove straight to the Defence Force land gate and stupidly asked for a permission to enter the regional park. The guards on duty laughed and explained us that this is the wrong way and directed us back to the right track.
Shakespear Regional Park Bays
Anyway, back to the park activities. Firstly, we checked out the three bays – Okoromai, Te Haruhi and Army Bay. The first beach that you come to as you approach the park in Army Bay. It has a nice sandy shore and calm waters for swimming as well as a boat ramp and some interesting rock pools to explore during low tide. The second beach is Okoromai Bay. This beach is popular for picking cockle clams but for us it, didn’t look inviting at all. The third and most further beach is the Te Haruhi Bay. Te Haruhi has a large grassy area and long sandy shore but it’s also very busy and can get quite windy (great for kite surfers). Out of all three of them, for us, Army Bay takes the win.
Shakespear Regional Park Hikes
After exploring the sandy beaches, it was time for some walks. Depending how much to you love walking, there are few different hikes that you can take. For us, the Lookout Walk is the one that seemed the most appealing. The walking track starts from a giant frame that you can’t miss if you follow the road towards Te Haruhi Bay.
From there on we walked up a gradually rising and then flattening hill until we reached the lookout. (15 min walk).
At the lookout, we climbed up to a small platform and were able to enjoy a powerful 360 views.
The view was so spectacular that after capturing a series of picture-perfect shots some of us could not wait to share the beauty with the rest of the world….
As the weather was not in our favour on that day, we decided not to continue with the hike and turned around to head back to our car.
Waterfall Gully in Shakespear Regional Park
Beside the beaches and walks, Shakespear Regional Park also has a beautiful waterfall called Waterfall Gully. Because it’s a small fall, it’s recommended to visit Gully just after rainfall as this is when the waterfall is at its finest. We visited the park during the dry season when it literally hadn’t rained for a month. We were advised by a local man, that unless we really love walking, Gully is not worth the walk. He also said that if we are planning to spend the night then this is the walk to take as there are glowworms along the path and at the waterfalls. Now unfortunately our plan did not evolve into an overnight stay and thus we can’t give any adequate review or pictures of Waterfall Gully.
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Before you enter Shakespear Regional Park we recommend having a look around the Gulf Harbour as well. It has beautiful walking tracks, nice restaurants and a world class marina and ferry terminal (for regular trips to Auckland downtown and Tiritiri Matangi Island).
For a powerful 360 views, head over to the Hilltop Reserve. This walking track has views over hibiscus coast and Auckland CBD. Bear in mind that it can get very windy up there 🙂
Our favorite beach in Whangaparaoa Peninsula is Arkles Bay Beach. This little bay has beautiful views across to Rangitoto Island. Being sheltered it has nice calm waters for different types of water sports and the water temperature is warmer than in the other nearby beaches. Ou and it also has a boat launching ramp, public toilets, showers, picnic tables and is dog friendly 😉
Cement Works Ruins in North Auckland
About 45 minute drive from Auckland downtown, seemingly deep in the forest lie the ruins of Wilson Cement Works. This huge factory was famous for being the first manufacturing plant to produce Portland cement in the southern hemisphere. It was closed and abandoned in 1928.
Today this place is known as one of Aucklanders favourite swimming hole. And no, this does not mean that you can swim inbetween the ruins or inside the old chimneys. It means that next to the ruins is a large lake slash swimming hole.
When we visited this place, from far it looked like a ghost town. As we walked closer we notices heaps of families chilling, swimming and enjoying this fascinating place.
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Tāwharanui Regional Park
About 20 minute drive from the Cement Works ruins is Tāwharanui Regional Park. Beside it’s many bays, this park also has one of north Auckland’s most interesting white-sand beach. We visited Tāwharanui sanctuary in late summer and althought the weather on that day wasn’t the best, Anchor Bay beach was buzzing and the water was full of people swimming, body boarding, surfing and snorkeling.
As we climbed down to the beach we saw that on the right hand side of the beach are some people cliff jumping. We also noticed that on the same side, there are some interesting rock formations and see caves so we decided to go and have a closer look.
Beside this amazing beach there are also lots of different walking tracks with lookout points that showcase picturesque views. As our plan didn’t involve any hiking this time, we can’t provide our own pictures or recommendations about these tracks. That said, if you would like to know more about the tracks, we recommend reading Mateja blog post about Tāwharanui. Also, if you are not into hiking then we promise that you will see some amazing views just by driving on the main road.
PS! The Tāwharanui Marine Park is also known for its spectacular diving and snorkeling opportunities so don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear. Ou and if you think that this means great fishing then think again. Fishing, netting, gathering shellfish or otherwise interfering with marine life is prohibited. So remember, you can look but you can’t touch 😉
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Omaha Beach in North Auckland
Probably the best beach in North Auckland is located in Omaha. Omaha beach is situated at the heart of Matakana Coast and it’s less then an hour drive north of Auckland CBD. This long (3.9km) stretch of a white-sand beach, with warm turquoise water and mellow waves is perfect for swimming, surfing, fishing and chilling. It reminded us the beaches that we use to go to back in Australia.
This Marine Reserve, also known as Te Hāwere-a-Maki is one of the best snorkelling and diving locations in New Zealand. Goat Island itself is a small island off the rocky coast near the township of Leigh in North Auckland.
The reason why this marine reserve is soo popular is because all the wildlife on the Goat Island reserve is protected, and it is illegal to catch any of it. If you decide to go snorkeling here, you’ll see big fish by swimming just a little bit further from the shore.
If you don’t like snorkelling, then you can also go out with a kayak or organize a clear bottom boat tour. On the day we visited this marine reserve, the water was nice and calm so after snorkelling a bit, we decided to also rent a clear kayak to go for a bit of a stroll along the marine reserve. Although we could see clear views all the way down through the boat, we didn’t see a single fish when out with the kayak. 🤣
PS! The Island itself is close by and you can reach it by swimming or kayaking. If you forgot or simply don’t own snorkelling gear or a kayak, then you can rent them directly on the beach. Also, bear in mind that this marine reserve can get extremely busy during summer weekends and holidays.
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VISIT NEW PLACES. Put down your phone and take a #hike to a #place you haven’t been