Lifestyle

NZ’s top picnic spots

We’ve searched high and low from Northland to Oamaru to bring you the top 10 most beautiful picnic spots. Whether it's for a day away or a short stop en route, you won’t be disappointed!

 

1. Sweet As! 

What: Chelsea Estate Heritage Park
Where: North Shore, Auckland

The Chelsea Sugar factory has been around since 1884, but it was only in 2008 when their magnificent parklands were given to Auckland Council as a reserve for everyone to enjoy. This wonderfully well-kept Auckland secret has lots of varied walks (from 20 minutes to over an hour), gorgeous water views, lots of bird life, and you can even take the dog for a stroll (on-leash only).

 Don't miss: The brand new Chelsea Bay visitor centre to learn more about the history of sugar in NZ.

 

2. Omana - Oh My!

What: Omana Regional Park
Where: East Auckland

This 40ha park has a safe swimming beach, rock pools to explore, pet animals to feed, a children's playground, a boardwalk and cycling tracks and plenty of picnic and barbecue sites. Phew! You’ll need a rest after all that.

Don't miss: The barbecue sites overlooking the sea for lunch with a view.

 

3. Find Yourself in Hot Water

What: Hot Water Beach
Where: Coromandel

Hot Water Beach is famous for its hot-water pools… that you dig yourself! It’s a great fun spot for families (although the beach can have strong undercurrents) and where watersports abound. Try scuba diving,  explore the marine wildlife in the nearby Hahei Marine Reserve or take it easy with a scenic boat trip or a guided sea kayak tour.

Don't miss: A short trip to the world-famous Cathedral Cove – spectacular!

 

4. Park Yourself Here

What: Williams Park / Days Bay
Where: Lower Hutt

In the mid-1890s the shipping entrepreneur John Williams bought Days Bay for £1,000 and spent a lifetime turning it into a beautiful parkland. Williams Park is the place to head here for your picnic. Stunning!

Don't miss: The Pencarrow Lighthouse at the end of the Pencarrow Headlands walk.

 

5. The Coast with the Most

What: Matai Bay
Where: Northland

This gorgeous natural wonderland is a haven for boaties, and those who love walking. Walking tracks abound, from gentle strolls to headland adventures. You can also enjoy fishing, diving, snorkelling and swimming at the beach.

Don't miss: Keep an eye out for endangered bird species like the New Zealand dotterel and oystercatcher. (If you find a nesting area, take special care!).

 

6. Gotta go to Otago

What: Oamaru Public Gardens
Where: Otago

When Oamaru was surveyed in 1858, 34-acres were set aside as a public reserve. Oamaru Gardens opened on this site in 1876 making it one of the oldest in the country. Beautiful, elegant and immaculately kept, there’s a rhododendron dell and azalea lawn, a native fernery and an extensive planting of New Zealand natives, plus a children’s play area.

Don’t miss: The Chinese garden and the peacock house.

 

7. Take a Trip to Tikitapu

What: Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake)
Where: Rotorua

Legend has it that the daughter of a mighty Chief was bathing in these crystal waters and wore a tiki, which she lost. The blue waters of the lake are believed to still be hiding the tiki tapu. Today, it’s a popular fishing and walking spot, just outside of Rotorua. Peaceful and calming, there are plenty of barbeque sites with toilet facilities, and even a boat ramp at the northern end of the lake (with ample parking).

Don't miss: The lookout point on the south-western corner for beautiful views.

 

8. Pohutukawa Paradise

What: Tapapakanga Regional Park
Where: East Auckland

With gentle walks through rolling farmland, expansive coastal views across the Firth of Thames and beautiful walkways lined with colourful pohutukawa., this is one of those great hidden beauties not far from Auckland. Plus, if it all gets too hot, it’s a great place for a cooling swim.

Don't miss: The original Ashby homestead (built in 1900).

 

9. Twelve Mile Treasure

What: Twelve Mile Delta
Where: Queenstown

This picnic spot is en route to Glenorchy and located 12 kilometres from Queenstown. There’s ample picnic and camping facilities, plus a pebble beach overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Walking, boating, swimming or mountain biking – it’s all yours to enjoy.

Don't miss: Wandering around the Lord of the Rings film site – this is where the Ithilien Camp was situated.

 

10. Blooming Beautiful

What: Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Where: Christchurch

Founded in 1863 and boasting an impressive 21 hectares with several large-scale conservatories, these gorgeous gardens feature both exotic and native plants, as well as an impressive rose garden with over 200 varieties. There’s also a fernery, which boasts a variety of New Zealand ferns. If you forgot the picnic, you won’t go hungry, with no less than four cafes.

Don’t miss: A picnic on the well-kept lawn in front of the Curator’s house.

 

Can't find your favourite spot on the list? Tell us your favourite place to stop for a picnic and go in the draw to win one of 25 picnic blankets. Click here to enter.

 

Read more from our summer issue of Be Free