Unique, Offbeat Auckland Activities & Destinations

Auckland is the gateway to New Zealand and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is also a very popular tourist destination with plenty of obligatory sights to see. Just don’t overlook the offbeat Auckland activities in and around city.

Sometimes the most rewarding experiences can be found when you escape the crowds and blaze your own trail by getting off the beaten path. Here are some options to make your trip here more unique 😉

Try These Unique & Offbeat Auckland Activities & Destinations!

Tiritiri Matangi Island is one of the overlooked, offbeat Auckland activities the HoliDaze recommends
Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Island-hopping in the Hauraki Gulf is a popular pastime but many tourists — even some native Aucklanders — never make it past Rangitoto and Waiheke islands. Yes, Tiritiri Matangi is a bit further away than those two (it’s a 75-minute ferry ride), however the trip is more than worth it. This wildlife sanctuary is home to nearly a hundred different species of birds and therefore a must for both nature lovers and ornithologists alike.

Tiritiri Matangi Island in Auckland is one of ornithologists' favorite destinations in New Zealand
I couldn’t name more than 5 species of birds if my life depended on it but that does not make the island any less enjoyable

Not just a visual experience but an audible experience as well thanks to all the birds

The entire island is a nature preserve and the number of daily visitors is strictly controlled — that is why it is unique and offbeat without being completely off the beaten path and hard to reach.

Tiritiri Matangi Island can be reached by ferry from Auckland Harbour
Tiritiri Matangi Island can be reached by ferry from Auckland Harbour

Odyssey Sensory Maze

Unlike anything else you have ever experienced, the Odyssey Sensory Maze is exactly what the name suggests: an invigorating journey that will stimulate all of your senses and leave you wanting more. It only takes about 30 minutes to travel through this diverse collection of differently themed sections, each distinctly different from the one before it. Each section features unique obstacles, lighting, music and yes, even smells. There is a jungle zone, a cave zone, a space zone, and…well…you’ll just have to discover the rest for yourself 😉

(I did not make this video, although I do produce travel videos for clients around the globe — that is what pays for my global adventures, not this blog) ????

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Glenbrook Vintage Railway, one of the unique and offbeat Auckland activities
Take a trip back in time by riding the Glenbrook Vintage Railway

Glenbrook Vintage Railway

Take a trip back in time by visiting the Glenbrook Vintage Railway. It’s nearly an hour south of the city but you’ll feel a world away! Come early and learn about the classic trains and the history of the railway from local volunteers before riding the train up to Waiuku. The train carriages are all perfectly restored and in immaculate condition. They even have open-air carriages that are perfect for capturing amazing photographs of the countryside. After arriving in Waiuku you can spend the day exploring and then either catch the return train to Glenbrook or continue back up to Auckland.

Matakana Village Market, Auckland, New Zealand
Matakana Village Market, another offbeat Auckland activity — via Nayika

Matakana Village

Located about 45 minutes north of the city, there is so much to do in here that you could easily turn a Matakana day-trip into a 3- or 4-day mini vacation. The village is most known for its Farmers’ Market every Saturday, however there is much more to explore than just that. From dozens of vineyards and countless boutique restaurants and family-owned B&Bs, Matakana is an amazing place that is always hard to leave.

Karekare Beach is another overlooked and offbeat Auckland activities to check out if you want to escape the crowds
The deserted Karekare Beach via Umar

Karekare Beach

Auckland and the surrounding area has no shortage of beaches, however Karekare is completely overlooked by most foreign tourists. The result is a pristine beach nestled in the countryside with virtually no signs of life around it. It is the perfect location for a relaxing day-trip or a brief escape from the hustle and bustle of The City of Sails. Plus if you get bored with the beach just follow the trail through the lush vegetation and you will be rewarded with some spectacular waterfalls.

Travel Tip: the dark sand gets incredibly hot in the afternoon sun, so this destination is best visited early in the day.

Any other offbeat Auckland activities to recommend?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

2 thoughts on “Unique, Offbeat Auckland Activities & Destinations”

  1. Cool list Derek. We saw that exotic as hell looking bird pictured up top a bunch in Lyttelton, outside of Christchurch. I see he lives on the North and South Island. Love his colors.


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