So you’ve been hiking, diving and mountain biking for a week and now you need to take the pace down a notch. From restorative massages to secluded coastal stays and gentle bush walks, here’s a bunch of ways to decompress without straying too far from Tamaki Makaurau Auckland.
Fall asleep to the sound of the Tasman Sea at this Karioitahi Beach resort. From a clifftop overlooking the black-sand beach, each of Castaways’ studios, chalets and villas feature a private deck perfect for soaking up this wild coastline and its sunsets. There’s a glamping option too – secluded solar-powered set-ups with a mix of lo-fi ways to relax (lounge in the hammock, soak in the outdoor bath) and mod-cons to keep you nourished (an espresso machine and a fridge stocked with provisions to cook on the barbeque). Guests can visit the on-site Bersantai Day Spa for massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. Start with a soak in an outdoor stone tub (with a glass of bubbles in hand), before opting for an anti-pollution treatment. This remote spot on the Auckland region’s west coast is about an hour’s drive from the CBD.
Great Barrier Island/Aotea
Great Barrier Island/Aotea might be an entirely off-grid island, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sip a local zero-waste solar-powered beer or gin while basking in its natural riches. Along with its abundance of forests, beaches and bays offering complete immersion in nature, the island was the first in the world to be designated a Dark Sky Sanctuary, meaning the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds are your up-late entertainment here. By day, you can spot dolphins, birdwatch, eat local mussels and swim in beautiful protected coves. There are also walks through native forest that range from short 15-minute strolls to advanced five-hour tramps, and might lead you to long white surf beaches or the natural sulphurous Kaitoke Hot Springs. The island is a four-and-a-half-hour ferry ride or 30-minute flight from Central Auckland.
Bethells Beach Cottages
Bethells Beach Cottages is another haven where Mother Nature has a habit of continually stopping you in your tracks. The three cottages are ideally positioned for taking in vivid peach-tinted sunsets and the black iron sands of Te Henga (Bethells Beach). Relax with a glass of local wine on your private deck or sink into the Scandinavian hot tub. Those seeking additional striking vistas can spend a day trekking the picturesque Te Henga Walkway, before cooking dinner with the woodfired barbeque and curling up to sleep. There’s an easel and paints to tempt your inner artist, and owner Trude Bethell offers a range of in-room holistic health treatments including therapeutic massage, shamanic healing and energy alignment. Bethells Beach Cottages is only a 40-minute drive from the CBD.
Less than an hour’s drive north of Auckland Central is this inland glamping gem. Tepee is what it says on the cover, but with the addition of a plush mattress and lots of soothing wood and white bed linen. Three tepees sit atop circular timber platforms, which hover above native grassland and rushes. Each has its own deck with space to practise a few morning sun salutations or stretch out and stargaze come nightfall. There’s a shared outdoor space with a wood burner, lounge chairs and picnic table, plus a shared bathroom with a shower. It’s a five-minute drive to Matakana Village, where the farmers market peddles locally made staples (such as nut butter and kombucha), and there’s a wine bar, craft brewery, cafe and cinema too. It’s also just a 10-minute drive to the beautiful white sandy beach and glistening waters of Omaha, which means “place of pleasure” in te reo Maori.
Escape to Japan without leaving the North Island. Based in Takapuna, just a 15-minute drive from the CBD, Ikoi Spa offers a curious signature treatment designed to release tension, detox and invigorate. The Enzyme Spa is a dry bath where you’re, well, buried (head excluded) under a blend of rice bran, pinewood sawdust and enzymes from organic fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and seaweeds grown and fermented in Hokkaido, Japan. While you simmer away under this warm and woody treatment, you’ll also receive a scalp and shoulder acupressure pummel. Tack on a visit to the sauna and you’ll be floating out at the end.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Visit Auckland. Lonely Planet recently named Auckland the “best city to travel to in 2022”.