Continuing on State Highway 2, you’ll hit Ngatea, a charming little town set in the Hauraki Plains. This isn’t your average rest stop; it’s loaded with neat shops, lip-smacking food joints, and cosy places for the night.
Feel like stretching your legs? The eccentric water gardens are worth a look. Need to unwind? Pioneer Park is your go-to. Travelling with youngsters? They’ll go wild for the playground and skatepark. Plus, with its roots deep in Maori culture and European settlement, Ngatea lets you get a real feel of New Zealand.
Sightseeing #1: Ngatea Water Gardens
Once you land in Ngatea, you just can’t miss the enchanting Ngatea Water Gardens. This natural beauty is like stepping into a fairy tale, each pathway leading to a new delightful surprise. Stroll past bridges, lily ponds, and waterfalls, and say ‘hi’ to the friendly locals – fish, ducks, and even New Zealand’s oldest turtles! With its quirky signs, gift shop, can museum, and picnic spots, it’s a fun-filled escape that’s wheelchair-friendly too!
Sightseeing #2: Miranda Hot Springs
Now, how about a dip in the largest thermal swimming pool in the southern hemisphere? That’s right, at Miranda Hot Springs, just an hour’s drive from Auckland, you can soak up the warmth and let your worries float away. There’s an adults-only sauna pool for some peace, and the kids get their own pool and playground. Plus, there are coin-operated barbecues, a cafe, and beautiful surroundings. It’s not just a hot spring—it’s a rejuvenating retreat with deep roots in Maori heritage.