As New Zealand’s biggest city, there are plenty of amazing activities to be found in Auckland. This isn’t particularly surprising, when you consider that the city accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country’s total population. Such diversity lends the City of Sails an incredible range of opportunities to keep any traveller more than occupied. If you try to do everything you might never leave!

Despite the wealth of experiences to be had in the CBD and surrounding suburbs, there’s still something to be said for getting out of town and experiencing the more natural side of things. After all, the stunning scenery of New Zealand is what draws many of our visitors here in the first place, so don’t limit yourself to the big city – no matter how exciting it might be. 

When it comes to exploring the regions around Auckland, it’s the towns south that get a lot of the attention. While there are certainly many great places to be found as you head towards the South Island, there are just as many to discover on the path north towards the tip of the country at Cape Reinga. So rent a car in Auckland and head north to discover these wonderful towns. 

Lovely Leigh

As you travel north from Auckland, the hustle and bustle will fade away into a peaceful, quiet countryside punctuated by small towns. Resist the urge to stop for a bite though, because just a little farther is the snapper capital of New Zealand. Fried, battered or crumbed, the fish is a much-loved classic across the nation, especially when paired with a few golden, chunky-cut chips. Snapper can be found almost everywhere off the coast, but for the best of the best, you’ll have to head to Leigh.

Located an hour north of Auckland, Leigh is a small town that punches well above its weight when it comes to snapper. Despite its low population (only a few hundred), the area exports tonnes of the fish worldwide. There must be something in the water! 

If you’d like to get up close and personal with aquatic life, Leigh is something of a mecca for keen divers and snorkelers, especially with its proximity to Goat Island – a marine reserve that welcomes thousands of visitors every year. Of course, once you’re tired from purveying the undersea beauty of the region, nothing fills the belly like a hearty meal of fish and chips from one of the local Leigh eateries. 

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Majestic Mangawhai

Continue north for another hour past Leigh and you’ll find yourself crossing out of the Auckland region and entering Northland. One of the best spots to stop at is Mangawhai, a popular destination for tourists and New Zealanders alike. The difference between Mangawhai and other places in the area highlights just how distinct each small town is along this stretch of coastline.

Mangawhai is well known for its beauty, with a wide variety of different landscapes to be found in the area. These range from lush bushlands through to picturesque beaches, with one of the most popular attractions being the sand spit that extends out into the harbour. The beauty isn’t only natural though, with a vibrant creative community. You’ll find everything from ceramics to artisan chocolate in the town, and there’s sure to be something unique for you to take home as a unique keepsake from your time in New Zealand. 

These are just two of the beautiful small towns to be found when you head out of Auckland. There are plenty more to discover, in every direction and all with a special character that sets them apart.

For more information on hiring a car in New Zealand, get in touch with the team at East Coast Car Rentals today.