Auckland may be New Zealand’s largest city, but its urban feel is complimented with city parks scattered everywhere. The country’s clean green reputation is amplified in Auckland parks and gardens. While each park offers something unique, they all provide a welcome escape from the city life that surrounds them. Below are what I consider to be the 12 best Auckland parks.
Cornwall Park Auckland has it all. Tall trees, native birds, and wide-open spaces are just the beginning in the largest green space in the city. Cornwall Park is a quiet place for a picnic, or an opportunity to get some exercise. Various groups meet in the park weekly, practising different skills from Tai Chi to sword fighting.
At one end of the park on an extinct volcanic cone sits One Tree Hill, at the other end is Stardome Observatory. Also in Cornwall Park are massive trees, rolling paddocks (many with sheep), the Cornwall Park Cafe, historic buildings, a bistro, walking tracks, and multiple playgrounds.
This is my personal home away from home. An open bird sanctuary, it is my favourite of the Auckland Regional Parks and provides hours of hiking trails, three beaches (more depending on the tides), bouncing spring lambs, cows, campsites, and even a waterfall. Surrounded by a predator-proof fence, the park is now the only mainland home to Little Spotted Kiwi Birds.
Shakespear Park Auckland is at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. It is close to my home and has won my heart.
Western Springs Lakeside Park
Black swans glide over the natural spring-fed lake at Western Springs Lakeside Park. It is home to the Auckland Zoo and the Western Springs Stadium. Nearby, we find the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT), Chamberlain Park Golf Course, and Jagger’s bush where I spotted several colourful mushrooms.
Dove-Myer Robinson Park
Most locals and visitors know this one as the Parnell Rose Garden. Visit from late spring to early autumn to see some of the 5,000+ roses that bloom here annually.
The Auckland Domain is the city’s oldest park, as well as one of the largest. It is built around the cone of the extinct Pukekawa volcano and is home to hiking trails, a duck pond, the Auckland Museum, a cafe, the Wintergarden, a natural amphitheatre, sports fields, and Auckland City Hospital.
Just a few blocks off of Queen Street, the benches around the Victorian fountain in Albert Park are one of my favourite spots for people watching. The park is surrounded by two major universities (The University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology) and the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.
While Albert Park is a great place to hang out during the day, I have been advised against randomly walking through Albert Park at night. (We have also been advised to avoid Myers Park Auckland at night.)
Another park with a predator-proof fence, there are critically endangered takehe now living here. Takahe look a bit like plump Pukeko, with a larger and more pronounced beak. They’re critically endangered and were actually thought to be extinct from 1898 to 1948. It’s quite rare to see them, even at the few places where they have been reintroduced. Tawharanui is also home to hours of hiking trails, a campsite, and one of Auckland’s most beautiful beaches.
The downside is that it is on the limits of the Supercity, and not that easy to get to without a vehicle, and even with one, it will take a while.
The summit of Mt Eden, an extinct volcano, is the highest natural point in Auckland offering an impressive 360-degree view. However, it is the 50-metre deep crater that attracts many visitors to this spot.
Once a military lookout site, this beautiful reserve still has bunkers, cannons, and tunnels to explore. Being on the north side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the site provides one of my favourite views of Auckland City.
North Head is located in Devonport.
The campgrounds at Mahurangi West are even farther north than Tawharanui but also worth the drive. Sarah recently camped at the Te Muri campsite here. It’s another of the clean, green Auckland Regional parks with an inviting beach.
The Hunua Ranges cover over 400 square kilometres of lush green forest. The Hunua Falls are about 60km southeast of central Auckland. Popular with families, the park offers hours of hiking trails, campsites, and a waterfall into a swimming hole. Currently, some sections of the Hunua Ranges regional parks are closed to visitors to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease affecting the trees.
Heading out to the parks in West Auckland will surely bring you to the Waitakere Ranges, the subtropical rainforest of the region. Like the Hunua Ranges, much of the park is currently closed to hiking to prevent the spread of Kauri dieback disease from killing the trees.
Auckland Playgrounds and Skateparks
Our girls were young when we first moved to New Zealand. I remember being so impressed by the vast number of Auckland playgrounds. When you’re a kid, these are the fun parks found in Auckland.
As my girls grew, skateparks became more important. While there are substantially fewer skate parks than Auckland playgrounds, there are enough. Check Auckland for kids for a list of Auckland skateparks and playgrounds.
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Still want more? Don’t miss these free things to do in Auckland.
Does your city have open spaces like the stunning Auckland Parks?
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