Our Riverhead cruise brought a relaxing Auckland Afternoon adventure, stepping off the beaten path and discovering something new in my own backyard. By venturing to places I had never been before, the day had the excitement of travel without the expense of going very far from home.
Our afternoon was about the journey as much as the destination. From Auckland’s Westhaven marina, we followed the trade route of early European settlers to the historic Riverhead Tavern. With plenty of time to explore, we enjoyed lunch and spent time at New Zealand’s oldest riverside tavern.
Whether you are tired of the fast pace of the city, looking for something different to do, or wondering about what you will find on some of the lesser travelled Auckland waterways, we recommend checking out this Riverhead cruise.
Honestly, it’s a perfect day out for families, older people, or anyone just looking for a relaxing day. The main restriction is the staircase to climb from the dock in Riverhead.
And, depending on when you choose to go, you may even be able to get a discount.
First, be inspired by Auckland …
A Riverhead cruise onboard the Red Boats
We began our adventure in Auckland (at Westhaven Marina) by boarding the Red Boats for a 90-minute leisurely cruise on a river system I had yet to explore. Cruising on the calm waters of the upper Waitemata Harbour, we began to relax and take in the lush scenery.
Our Riverhead cruise was so smooth and calm I think most people could read onboard. But why would you want to?
The skipper’s commentary offered just the right amount of information, but it was the scenery that made it so special, even while it was a bit overcast.
As we cruised down the upper Waitemata Harbour, we followed the path of early traders. A few of the highlights our Riverhead cruise passed:
- Passing under the Auckland harbour bridge
- Chelsea Sugar Refinery
- Kauri Point
- Brighams Creek
- Harkins Point
- Herald Island
- Hare Krishna Temple
The boat itself is spacious and comfortable, with two main options. There is an open-air upper deck with plenty of seating where I enjoyed the view once we entered the river, as the day’s weather was a bit temperamental. However, I began my journey on the boat’s lower level watching the world through huge windows.
The Riverhead – tavern, restaurant, boathouse, and park
After a thoroughly enjoyable 90-minute Riverhead cruise, we arrived at The Riverhead. Here we enjoyed lunch and spent time at New Zealand’s oldest riverside tavern, holding the country’s second-oldest liquor license (the oldest is in Russell).
We started our 2.5 hours of exploration time with a delicious lunch on the airy outdoor deck at the Landing Restaurant, complemented by local wine matched from their handpicked cellar. I enjoyed the fish of the day, which was snapper, my personal favourite. The addition of scallops really made this a treat.
Then we took time to explore the grounds, from the staircase leading up from the dock to the 100-year-old oak trees on the property. We also discovered a woodfired pizza oven and plenty of peaceful spots to relax with a book, have a picnic or listen to live music when it plays on Sunday afternoons.
Finally, we entered their classic Kiwi neighbourhood bar, the Portage. The perfect place to hang with your mates, play pool, enjoy a beer, or simply discover Riverhead’s history through old stories hang on the walls. And don’t miss the metal motorcycle sculpture hanging over the bar created by local sculptor Garry Dunn, all made from bits and pieces he found around the property.
What you need to know about the Riverhead cruise adventure
- Before you book, be sure to check Bookme for discounts which are available on various days.
- The boat only sails on high tide, so the schedule changes daily.
- The visit at Riverhead Tavern is 2.5 hours, with plenty of time to eat and visit the Portage Bar.
- With the cruise there and back, the total time is 5.5 hours.
- You can board at Westhaven marina or get picked up at Birkenhead 10-15 minutes later.
- There is a fully licensed bar onboard the boat.
- This is a great way to spend an afternoon. It is one of the more novel dining experiences in Auckland. or a fun day trip from Auckland city.
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These are our go-to companies when we travel. We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.
- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
- Accommodations: we use Booking.com (hotels) or BookABatch (self-contained).
- Cars (gas or electric): we use RentalCars to search for deals and dealer ratings.
- Campervans or Motorhomes: we use Campstar where Albom Adventures readers get a 3% discount
- Activity discounts: we check Bookme.com for discounts of up to 70% on activities.
- Private guides: we love the private guides at Tours by Locals
- Travel Insurance: our go-to is World Nomads*.
Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
*World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
When will you try a Riverhead cruise?
More from Auckland you might also like … starting with these 75 free and nearly free things to do in the city
Disclaimer: We were guests of both Red Boats and Riverhead Tavern as we are frequently provided with complimentary entrances, tour, or sample items to aid in the writing of Albom Adventures. However, the opinions expressed here are strictly our own.
Looks like a fun place to visit. I was thinking last night that I wanted some pizza. After looking at the wood fired oven, I really want some pizza. – Margy
Jessica Claudio, DVM
I love your photography. Thanks for a glimpse of your New Zealand adventure.
You have such great adventures and such a wonderful place to live!!
Have a great day!
Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly
I could totally go for that snapper with scallops right about now, NOM NOM NOM!
I hope to make it out there someday!
Definitely an experience worth experiencing! Great pics!
Rhonda you know more about NZ than I do. love all the information I learn from the adventures x
What an adventure is right, Rhonda. WOW. Your photographs are amazing. I am going to get a new camera and start taking photos. My problem is I don’t know how to choose a good camera. Maybe I’ll be able to take that trip one day soon. So glad Alex introduced us.
Wow that’s beautiful!!!! I love it!!!
What a cute boat! I love cruising along rivers and coastlines.
nice to see another kiwi blogging 🙂
I grew up in Auckland so I know the areas well, now I’m up in Northland.
have a good day
Very cool boat tour! I can dream about going on one anyway. BTW, I’m dropping in from a shout out to your blog on Rosie Amber’s blog https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/.
Beautiful pictures, looks such a lovely place 🙂
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
We sailed up to Herald Island once, but never got to the other places you mention. Looks like a really good river cruise!
Next time you should go all the way to Riverhead Tavern for a meal, or a beer. Just watch the tides.
Dear owner: the heck with the oven, show me the pizza (although I also want to see the oven cuz it’s cool looking).
LOL – I am sure the owner will giggle at your comment 🙂
BTW – the oven wasn’t on, I think they use it only on Sundays.
I’d be on the boat with everyone else. Why drive when you can go by boat.
Your lunch looked amazing. I’d have that too. Yummy.
Have a fabulous day. 🙂
I figure you would take your own boat, the sign said you can dock anytime outside of the 1.5 hours either side of the high tide.
Merlinda Little ( @pixiedusk)
Lovely boat ride and that place is stunning too! Looks like a nice trip!
Lovely pictures, I’d love to go back to New Zealand for another holiday. I’ve given you blog a shout out from my letter R today https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/
Oh–how lovely! Thank you for sharing your experiences!
I would love to go there. Very nice photos. Love them.
Elen @ Elen G
What a lovely spot, Rhonda. And the red snapper…. let’s just say I wouldn’t mind sitting down to that. So enjoying your A to Z Auckland.
That sounds wonderful, and I would definitely want to ride the riverboat!
I agree. I think it was just a bit too much boat for my husband, as I had to take a one hour ferry trip just to get to Auckland before I took the riverboat.
I wanna go there too!
That boat tour and tavern look neat. 🙂
Definitely looks like a relaxing afternoon.
Oh we both put maps up today! That too in relation to boats and water… yours had a rather more tasty ending to it though and if ever I get around to visiting NZ, this one’s on the list!!! YAM xx
Great captures with supporting a good text.
What a lovely trip and that food was that someone on the phone in the second photo? LOL
Have a snappertastic day Rhonda 🙂
lol- I had to go back to the original picture, wish I could blow up and to see the details. She is not on the phone, but rather holding her finger to her ear to block out the wind.
Darn! Wish I’d known about this last month when we were in Auckland!! Pinning it for next visit.
I’ve lived here in nearly 12 years and I only just discovered it. I have to admit, I am really enjoying finding so many new places and activities as I go through Auckland a-to-Z.
Hi Rhonda .. it looks so beautiful .. I’ll fly in and then take the River ride .. it does look a great place to visit and with the history of the river route being acquired along the way … that snapper with the scallops looks too good!! I’ll have that when I fly in! Cheers Hilary
Actually, I think you would really enjoy this. There’s so much interesting history, just the type you always write about. Let me know when you arrive in New Zealand. 🙂
What a great way to spend some time. Very charming!
What a life . . . I mean, Rhat a rife, Rhonda.
Alex J. Cavanaugh
What a cool boat tour! I would like to take that some day.