Just minutes from Auckland CBD and you can be relaxing on a pohutukawa-lined beach, picnicking in the grass, kayaking in calm waters, cycling along the waterfront, or enjoying fabulous international cuisine. Mission Bay Auckland has it all.
An upscale neighbourhood, it’s the perfect New Zealand getaway for locals as well as visitors. With domestic travel on the rise, Mission Bay Auckland’s popularity will only increase.
Summertime finds enthusiastic swimmers enjoying gentle waves, while only a few brave souls enter the colder water in winter. The famous fountain, grassy park, waterfront walk, dining options, and children’s playground seem popular all year.
On fine weather days, there are bicycles to hire, kites flying, and children wading in the reserve’s huge fountain. On Sunday evenings, a group of fire spinners practise in the reserve, an unusual treat should you happen upon it.
A world apart, Mission Bay is only a 15-minute drive from Auckland along the picturesque waterfront. For the energetic, the alternative way to arrive is a 90-minute walk enjoying impressive coastal views with nearly every step. There are also public buses, taxis, or Uber if you don’t feel like walking back to the city later.
Where is Mission Bay Auckland?
As American expats who have been living in and exploring NZ for over 20 years, we see things from both a local’s perspective and from that of a visitor. Therefore, we understand what it’s like to come here and have things be similar, but not always exactly what we are used to. We share the information on this page from this perspective.
What to do in Mission Bay Auckland
Relax or swim at Mission Bay beach
Of course, we had to start with the beach as Mission Bay boasts the closest swimmable beach to central Auckland. So close to the city, yet once you are here, it’s like being on vacation.
Remember to check the water quality at Safeswim
before diving in at any Auckland beach
Watersports in Mission Bay Auckland
Gentle surf makes Mission Bay ideal for families and for water play. Imagine being able to enjoy a kayak or stand up paddleboards (SUPs) this close to the city. It’s the perfect nearby getaway.
And, it’s easy as Mission Bay Watersports is right on the beach, offering both kayaks and SUPs. If you can plan ahead, sometimes only by hours, you might be able to get a discount through these links, depending on the time and day you choose:
If you enjoy a day out in the sun and want something a bit more “natural,” consider heading to the clothing-optional Ladies Bay Beach. Located east of Mission Bay Beach, it’s about 500 metres beyond St. Helier’s beach and up Cliff Road.
Beachgoers with alternate transportation might also enjoy one of the surf beaches on Auckland’s west coast.
Selwyn Reserve (commonly called Mission Bay park)
Adjacent to the beach, the relaxing grassy area is a great spot for a picnic, sporting fun, reading a book, or people-watching. Officially called the Selwyn Reserve, it is named for George Augustus Selwyn, New Zealand’s first Anglican Bishop.
If you want more than just relaxing, check out Memorial Fountain. Used as a paddling pool by kids in the summer, it is made of Sicilian marble. The fountain shoots plumes of water up to 12 metres high at regular intervals and is colourfully lit at night.
Or, come by on a Sunday night, when it’s not too windy or rainy and you might find Fire and Flow, a group of fire spinners that always attract a crowd as they practice their craft. Fascinating to watch, they keep it safe by setting up perimeter markings. It’s one of my favourite things to do in Auckland at night.
Bastion Point (technically in Orakei)
Whether it’s New Zealand history or stunning views you are after, you won’t want to miss Bastion Point. Once up the hill, you can relax in the gardens, enjoy massive sea views, or read about some of New Zealand’s tumultuous past. The tomb and memorial gardens for former New Zealand Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage is also found here.
Getting to Bastion Point is easy. Simply cross Tamaki Drive and walk up the path just beyond the west end of Selwyn Reserve. The landmark to find the trail is the pebble mosaic entitled He Turanga Hou.
The other option is to drive up the hill, although we have noticed that the access road has been closed quite a bit lately. If you want to see more of the city, Bastion Point is a stop on the red line of Auckland’s Hop-on Hop-off bus.
Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium (also in Orakei)
With over 30 live animal exhibits from local sea life to Antarctic penguins, it’s no surprise that Sea Life, Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium is Auckland’s number one attraction. A family-friendly destination, there are plenty of hands-on opportunities for kids. Plus, there is a shark tunnel, turtle rescue centre, and more.
Getting to Kelly Tarlton’s
It’s a 20-minute picturesque stroll from Mission Bay. If you have a car, be aware that there is limited parking. And Sea Life is also a stop along the red line of the Auckland Hop-on Hop-off bus.
Other things to do in Mission Bay Auckland
Walk, jog, or bicycle along Tamaki Drive
The coastal road between Auckland CBD and Mission Bay is lovely. The entire walk takes about 90 minutes, but we like to do sections of it when we visit Mission Bay.
A fabulous option for those who like bike riding is to enjoy a self-guided bike tour from CBD to Mission Bay that includes everything you need, even a picnic lunch.
Watch the boats
While normally we are watching yachts, launches, daysailers, kayaks, canoes, windsurfers and other craft, on one visit, we were lucky enough to see America’s Cup’s initial race in the Parada Cup series in addition to the fabulous coastal views.
Check out the Mission Bay playground
Located at the east end of the beach, the playground is great fun for kids.
Take in a flick at the Berekely Mission Bay
A cinema in Mission Bay intermixing first-run movies with independent films, this is the place to go if you are looking for an indoor escape. Check out what’s playing today.
Enjoy the sunset over Auckland from Tamaki Drive
A sunset walk heading west towards the city is quite rewarding. To be honest, the walk is lovely any time of day. The drive is pretty nice too.
Mission Bay restaurants
Leaving the beach or park, once you cross Tamaki Drive, you’ll exchange the playful reserve for an array of international dining, drinking, and dessert options.
Our favourite ‘international’ restaurants
The Attic Bar & Restaurant
55 Tamaki Drive (upstairs) — 09-521 0000
Auckland’s number one Gastro Pub, The Attic has something for everyone. A relaxed atmosphere, they are well known for fresh ingredients and tasty and satisfying meals. Best of all (for me) they are Coeliac NZ’s Dining out Programme approved and offer an extensive range of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.
De Fontein Belgian Beer Café
79 Tamaki Drive — 09-578 3327
If you have never tried Belgian dining, you might want to start with moules-frites (mussel pots and fries), the specialty of De Fontein. And, of course, the beer. Personally, it’s not just the food and drink that brings me here. Situated over Movenpick, the outdoor balcony is high enough to see over the trees to enjoy a sea view while you eat. The menu identifies gluten-free and vegetarian options.
71 Tamaki Drive — 09-528 1212
Traditional Northern Italian cuisine and great service make this one of our favourite Italian restaurants in the city. More than just pasta, many of their mouth-watering meals have vegetarian and gluten-free options.
93 Tamaki Drive — 09-528 7494
Authentic Tex-Mex flavours and the option of indoor or outdoor casual dining complete with margaritas, all at affordable prices. Even better, the food comes out fast, hot, and delicious. The menu features a variety of gluten-free and vegetarian options, the enchiladas being my personal favourite. And while you are here, don’t miss the huge lizards they keep as pets.
Mission Bay ice cream
Ice cream and the beach seem to naturally go together, and the proprietors of Mission Bay know this. Not only do many of the restaurants include ice cream options on their menu, there are also five dedicated Mission Bay ice cream shops, listed here in the order you will come to them walking from east to west.
- Ben & Jerry’s
99A Tamaki Drive
95 Tamaki Drive
- Mövenpick Ice Cream
75 Tamaki Drive
- Gelato New Zealand
61 Tamaki Drive
0210 814 1362
- New Zealand Natural
2/35 Tamaki Drive
Where to stay in Mission Bay Auckland
Our very first night in New Zealand was nearly two decades ago. We spent it at a delightful B&B in Orakei, just west of Mission Bay, and the area has held our hearts ever since. Our hosts made us feel welcome and gave us a local’s perspective, something we may not have gotten from a hotel.
We hope we have convinced you to visit Mission Bay. It’s ideal for a day or longer. It’s one of many interesting places to go in Auckland.
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