The Long Bay Regional Park stretches along the east coast over viewing the Hauraki Gulf where the outer line of Rangitoto Island shapes the distant horizon. A 30 minutes drive from Auckland down town leads to Long Bay with its white sandy beach. The park follows the coast and extents into the Okura Marine Reserve. This beautiful place is well worth a day trip.
Park visitors reach Long bay Regional Park by bus with the public transport system www.maxx.co.nz, with their own car or their rental car for a day trip. Motor home drivers on the other hand can book a stay, on the Auckland council website, within the park boundaries for up to 3 nights. Click here to find close by hotels and Bed&Breakfasts!
Long Bay Beach is very popular with its prime location over viewing the Hauraki Gulf and attracts masses of beach and sun lovers especially on weekends, school holidays and public holidays. Aucklanders come to enjoy the beach and the surrounding nature, to picnic or to celebrate. Family, club or business groups of up to 500 people use the service to book for up to 6 months in advance.
More formal events and weddings often choose to hire the historical Vaughan Homestead with its sweeping views over park and beach. The scenery is particularly delightful for wedding photographers to capture wedding photos of the bride and groom in a magnificent scene. The Auckland Regional Council administers hiring requests.
One reason why beach party initiators arrive early is the gentler morning sun. The second one is even more important. Booked beach picnic spots require someone to be there before 9am.
Otherwise, the next party in line is the lucky occupant for the day.
Here is a detailed park map to download in pdf format. The map is perfect to familiarize yourself with the park facilities. The number to call for any pre-bookings at the Auckland Regional Council is: 09 366 2000.
The advantages of Long Bay Beach are the comfort of changing rooms and restrooms. At the park entrances a restaurant and kiosk provide for those who lost track of time or simply enjoy the luxury of going unprepared on a day trip. An exciting playground with an electrical miniature train keeps little ones engaged, so does the adventurous playscape where they can take joy in climbing, swinging, sliding and balancing. For young and old the park grounds hold space for all sorts of sporting activities. During intense sun hours between 10am and 3 pm numerous trees offer protective shade, but it is also allowed on request to the park ranger who has his office on the park grounds, to pinch up your own marquise. Every New Zealander knows that this is the number one skin care action to take when spending a summer's day outdoors apart from generous sun milk distribution on every inch of uncovered skin.
A coastal walk starts at the north end of Long Bay Beach. Following the coastline either along the beach at low tide or up on the cliff top to reach two smaller bays, Granny Bay and Pohutukawa Bay. Both are a lot quieter, almost deserted, when Long Bay experiences a very busy day. Hikers that keep on wandering the track reach Okura River. This delta has a remarkable effect of vastness especially at low tide. It is a Marine Reserve embedded in magnificent New Zealand scenery. So leave the fruits of the sea like fish, shellfish, sea anemones and seaweed where they belong and take only pictures to remember.
Finalize the loop and return to the park depending on tide conditions on top of the cliffs enjoying scenic views from above or admire the erosive work of the surf along the beach.
After the busiest hours of the day when swimmers retreated often kite surfers chase each other along up and down the full length of Long Bay Beach. This is a colourful spectacle at Long Bay Regional Park and sets a wonderful contrast to the light blue of the sky. Overall, I am sure that a day trip to Long Bay Regional Park offers highlights for many tastes.