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Auckland day trip to Kaipara Harbour

Imagine a geothermal hot pool experience as a reward for fish n chips on the beach. Places to go include the imaginative garden centre Kaipara Coast Gardens with its sculpture trail and newly constructed Conservation trail and a quick peek at Helensville, the location for the TV Series ‘BrokenWood.’ For other trips and holiday inspiration check out Auckland Road Trips.

Trip Overview

Attractions, places to go

Kaipara Harbour highlights

  • Helensville ‘BrokenWood’ TV series location, heritage post office
  • Helensville River walk
  • Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens (3 hours) walking trail
  • Shelly Bay fish n chips on the beach watching boaties, water bombing from the jetty
  • Parakai Palm Springs geothermal hot pools – blissful few hours

Duration: Day trip
Start Auckland
Finish Auckland


Auckland - Kumeu - Helensville

@Kumeu Market
@Kumeu Market

Departing from Auckland, city of sails you travel through West Auckland and Kumeu, the home of Auckland’s oldest wine regions with temptations to linger in one of the many vineyard cafes and explore the Kumeu weekend market scene. From Kumeu a quick detour for heritage lovers and fans of the TV series ‘BrokenWood’ to view the TV series ‘Police Station.’ The actual building is heritage listed Helensville Post Office

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Stop 1

Riverside walkway & Helensville Post Office

Helensville heritage visitor centre, Auckland, New Zealand
Helensville heritage visitor centre, Auckland

Admire the elegant lines of the former Post Office and grab the selfie before exploring Helensville’s walkway. The walkway feature’s tracks boardwalks and bridges, with a lookout over the Kaipara River where there has been extensive planting of native trees and shrubs. A handful of access points to the track include: southern entry in Mill Road (opposite Mitre 10); central entry point Creek Lane (beside Unichem, Commercial Road); and the northern entry between the historic Post Office and the old Bank of New Zealand buildings on Commercial Road.

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Stop 2

Geothermal Hot Pools



Parakai Springs is the classic family destination for Auckland locals looking for a day out, Parakai Springs is currently a little tired and worn out. Although kids don’t mind flaking paint and a lack of maintenance. The hydro slides, the open air geothermal pool still is a place of joy for kids. Recommended is the fresh contemporary Palm Springs Geothermal Pools. Palm Springs Geothermal Pools are a great alternative for couples or visitors looking for an up to date thermal pool experience.

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Stop 3

Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens

Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens, female figure, Auckland, New Zealand
Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens, Auckland

The unassuming garden centre, stocked with the usual bedding plants, roses and shrubs holds a secret door complete with a keypad entrance. Behind the door (there is an entry fee) is an amazing naturalised garden stacked with an array of sculptures, installations and public art works which are generally for sale. You are invited to take a picnic with you and relax in the gardens where a heritage orchard has a delightful installation or grab a coffee from the garden cafe and enjoy sipping your beverage while admiring the backside of a large elephant artwork.

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Stop 4

Shelly Bay

Shelly Bay, Kaipara Harbour, jetty at low tide, note high tide mark, New Zealand
Shelly Bay, Kaipara Harbour

Fish and chips, a burger or an ice cream from the local convenience store / cafe while watching locals launch boats, kids jump off the jetty and dog walkers. The Kaipara Harbour is part of Kauri Coast beaches things to do & see – Best Bits and is a hidden gem with its world class MATAKOHE KAURI MUSEUM, extraordinary shallow harbour and settlements. While relaxing watching the world go by you could consider whether you have the energy to:

  • Go skydiving at the nearby Parakai Airfield
  • Tree ziplining in the nearby Woodend Forest
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Tempted to stay awhile check out Parakai Springs Lodge for great accommodation in the area or consider taking a short road trip Further north Northland sustainable holiday.

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