Skip the Rainbow's Endtheme park. Throw your boots in your JUCY hire car and head for "Fairy Falls" on the west coast.
Visitors to the North Island ex Auckland should add the Whatipu (Fot -a- Poo) experience to their list of "Not to Miss".
Figure on 30 minutes to get out of the CBD, a short scenic drive through the country, and eventually through a plush rainforest, and you're almost there. The black beaches of Whatipu Sands await you...for fishing and beachcombing, painting and photography, cave exploration, even weaving with native harakeke, bark and shells collected from the volcanics and soil along the magnificent coastline. The area is ecologically significant and has major Maori associations and historic sites.
Book ahead with Marnie and Ali if you want to stay at Whatipu Lodge. The original Colonial homestead and post office are maintained for historical significance by Auckland Regional Council. The bunkhouses and central cafeteria built later in the 1920's as a fishing camp can accommodate groups up to 37. The greenie girls and Jac (their jack russell ) also manage a campsite with long drop and solar showers...and a bach for those who like a few amenities. The Lodge, Bach and Campground are kid friendly. In fact, each January, the Rainbow Family weekend is held here, and attracts 60 some lesbians, kids, cats, dogs, tents and caravans.
Remember Jane Campion's epic movie "The Piano"? It was filmed right up the coastline at Karekare - about a 2.5 hours tramp or 1.5 hours drive by scenic, winding, road. Also check out "Fairy Falls Track" while in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, a 3 hour, 6km walk in the wild. It takes about 45 min. to get to the top of the waterfall.
Also on this Tasman Sea coastline is the very popular Piha Beach and Lion Rock, where you can swim with the dolphins, sharks and seals in season. Stay overnight with Bobbie and Julia at their Piha Beach cabin. The cosy accommodation is a minute's walk from the beach, and a comfortable stop for $100 pn. All are welcome, especially keen surfers, trampers and beach lovers.
Don't forget your wide angle lens. Wider Auckland requires a panoramic camera to capture the waves to mountain scenes you won't soon forget.