Auckland’s Takapuna has lots to offer motorhomers, including a beachside campground. MCD senior writer Claire Smith shares 10 great reasons to visit this urban retreat.
One of the big drawcards to the RV lifestyle is the ability to go off the beaten track, enjoy the great Kiwi outdoors, and to get away from the hustle and bustle. But that’s not to say that urban New Zealand doesn’t have plenty to offer – especially if you can find somewhere beautiful and beachy to park up that’s a short walk to shops and restaurants. One such place is Takapuna, on Auckland’s North Shore.
Just 10-15 minutes’ drive from the CBD, Takapuna is one of those ‘something for everyone’ suburbs – from the Sunday markets and shopping malls to the playground and parks. The main shopping precinct on Hurstmere Road has been undergoing something of a transformation over the past few years, with laneways and a town square under development that are helping create a modern and vibrant centre for visitors and locals alike. Here are a few top spots to enjoy on your next visit.
1. Hit the beach (of course!)
Backdropped by Rangitoto, and with its white sand and calm water, 2.5km-long Takapuna Beach is popular year-round. Park up at the northern end to pick up a coffee from the iconic Takapuna Beach Café, or join the locals on the beach for a stroll, paddleboard or a swim (and it’s a fantastic place for house-spotting too, with some stunning beachfront properties to lust over).
Takapuna is popular with watersports lovers of all kinds, from swimming and picnics to kayakers and seaside strolls with the dog – visit aucklandcouncil.govt.nz for details around dog rules. While summer times apply to beach access for dogs, they are also welcome all day, year-round at nearby St Leonards Beach. Head down Lake Road toward Devonport, take a left onto St Leonards Road (between the Wilson School and Takapuna Grammar). The beach is at the end of the road. Note: there is a long set of steps leading down to the water. The best time to visit with your dog is during low-mid tide.
2. Relax while the kids play
When the kids have had enough of swimming and playing on the beach, the Takapuna Beach Playground is right alongside and is sure to keep them busy for hours. The playground includes
a 9-metre-high tower with slides, a climbing rope structure, in-ground trampolines, merry go-rounds, a water play area and much more. And for weary parents, there is usually a coffee cart nearby.
3. Get a bargain at the Sunday Market
The Takapuna Sunday Market is one of the busiest, most vibrant markets in Auckland. Held in the Anzac Street carpark, just behind Hurstmere Road, it’s an excellent place to shop for a second-hand bargain, unique arts and crafts, fresh produce and more. Make a morning of it by grabbing some tasty treats and a good coffee and taking them to the beach. Note: the market has been closed over the recent lockdown but is expected to reopen for summer. Visit facebook.com/takapunasundaymarket for updates.
4. Grab a bite to eat
From gelato and gourmet burgers to exotic eats and fine dining, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to finding something tasty in Takapuna. There is a great range of cafés and restaurants alongside Takapuna Beach where you can sit outside and enjoy the views: the Regatta Bar & Eatery has some delicious fare to enjoy while you sit back and watch the world go by. Head down Hurstmere Road and see what takes your fancy; Nanam Eatery has scrumptious Filipino food created by Jessabel Grenada – food superstar Marco Pierre White declared their dish best in show at the 2019 Taste of Auckland festival. Tok Tok is another popular spot with its Asian fusion dishes; this is a good choice if you like trying lots of flavours, as the small share plates means everyone gets a bit of everything. Don’t forget to check out the various laneways such as Eat Street where you’ll find a selection of pizza, burgers, fried chicken, sushi and El Humero, New Zealand’s only authentic Colombian restaurant.
5. Park up at Takapuna Beach Holiday Park
Located right by the beach, Takapuna Beach Holiday Park is the perfect place to ‘drop & flop’ with your campervan, RV, motorhome or caravan. The views from Takapuna Beach Holiday Park are sublime, and it’s a short walk to the town centre, yet when you’re parked up next to the lapping waves, it feels a million miles away. The holiday park has unpowered and powered sites, including waterfront sites, placing you literally just steps away from the ocean.
6. Take a walk
Give your legs a decent stretch along the Takapuna-Milford heritage walk. The walk starts at the Takapuna boat ramp and takes you along roads, beaches and coastal lava rocks. You’ll pass several historic interest points, including a cluster of 200-year-old pohutakawa trees on the site of the iconic Mon Desir building. The walk takes around two hours, and you’ll need to plan your timing for low tide. Download the brochure for a map and highlights of the walk from the Auckland Council website.
7. Enjoy a shopping spree
Takapuna is a shopping lover’s dream, with an impressive selection of boutique and speciality stores, as well as all the usual favourites within the Shore City mall. If you’ve got teenagers or sci-fi fans on board, they’re sure to love Retrospace on Hurstmere Road which has a great range of all things Dr Who, Star Wars, Marvel and more.
8. Plan a lakeside picnic
Killarney Park, alongside Lake Pupuke, is Auckland’s only volcanic crater lake. The lake is also home to the iconic PumpHouse Theatre, an historic building that hosts a range of live performances and workshops. The entrance to the park is on Killarney Street, just after the Takapuna Pool and Leisure Centre, and is about a 15 minute walk from the beach.
9. Enjoy an exhibition or art class
Located at 37 Fred Thomas Drive, Lake House Arts is definitely worth a visit. The centre is used as a venue for exhibitions, events and art classes, and is set within an historic building surrounded by beautiful gardens. Stop by and enjoy the gallery and the latest exhibition, take in an art class, and enjoy a bite to eat at the onsite café. Check out their online gallery at www.lakehousearts.org.nz/webpages/our-art-online.
10. Cool off with an ice cream
Summer with an ice cream… it doesn’t get any better! There’s plenty to choose from within a short walk from the beach. On most days, you’ll find a Ben & Jerry’s cart across the carpark from the beach playground, and the aforementioned Takapuna Beach Café (at the northern end of the beach) has a mouthwatering range of gelato, sorbet, and yummy cakes. A little further, on Hurstmere Road, is Mövenpick where you can indulge all your ice cream cravings with fancy sundaes and gourmet flavours.
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