You’ll need your own transport to do justice to the beaches and most of the ranges, unless you join one of the West Coast tours, or perhaps join a canyoning trip. All trips pick up around central Auckland.
Bush & Beach t0800 423 224, wbushandbeach.co.nz. Afternoon trips include a short bushwalk to waterfalls and kauri trees, and a visit to Piha beach. The more satisfying full-day tour has longer walks and more bushcraft.
Fine Wine Tours t0800 023 111, winsidertouring.co.nz. Phil Parker personally leads small-group, half-day tours including three Kumeu wineries, lunch and a visit to Muriwai. Also full-day wine tours to Kumeu with five wineries and honey tasting, plus tours to Waiheke Island and Matakana.
Potiki Adventures t0800 692 3836, wpotikiadventures.com. Run by a couple of passionate Ngapuhi women who bring a Maori world-view to their full-day, small-group Urban Maori Experience trips, which include morning and afternoon tea. Tours visit Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) before heading west to the Waitakere Ranges and Whatipu beach to learn creation stories and medicinal plant usage. Saturday trips include a visit to Otara Market.
TIME Unlimited t0800 868 463, newzealandtours.travel. Personal service and a willingness to go the extra mile characterize these small-group tours focusing on Titirangi and Whatipu beach with an excellent bushwalk and pounding surf. Go for the half-day or include it as part of a full-day city and coast tour. More hiking-focused trips through the Waitakeres are available at similar prices.