Our first big adventure in Strawberry (our new/used car)!! We had explored quite a bit of Auckland on foot but having a car meant we could now explore even further. For our first big road/day trip we chose to go to Manukau Heads Lighthouse (pronounced Ma-nu-cow) located atop Awhitu Peninsula . It was only a few hours drive from where we were staying in Auckland and from our research it looked amazing. So we packed our bags for a day trip which included – lots of water, snacks, blankets, coats, our cameras, and umbrellas and began our adventure for the day.
The drive was amazing…well it was amazing for those of us that were not driving. We saw sheep, cows, horses, incredible rolling green hills, and the sea. Sean on the other hand had to keep both eyes on the road (there are even road signs that say something along the lines of yes our scenery is beautiful but if you want to look pull over or keep your eyes on the road-stay safe) so he was unable to fully appreciate the scenic views on the way. Not to mention the stress of driving in a foreign country on the opposite side of the road and car then you are used to. Lots of the streets in New Zealand are very narrow and lots of times you are driving with mountain on one side and cliff on the other. We were still trying to get the hang of driving here so its safe to say that we got honked at A LOT and passed several times on our way to our final destination. We will be writing a post all about driving in New Zealand soon. We have some really good tips that include what to do when you get to one way bridges, what certain signs mean, and what to do at all the roundabouts.
So a little background info to explain why we decided on this as our first trip. Sean proposed to me by a lighthouse in Hawaii and they will forever have a special place in our hearts. Not only because they remind us of that magical day when he got down on one knee and asked for my hand in marriage but also because they remind us of the day we chose each other. The day we made the decision to stick by one another, to be each others light when things are dark, and that we are adventurers. Not many people out there get swept away in the middle of the night on a surprise trip to Hawaii to be proposed to next to a lighthouse. For all of these reasons and more lighthouses will forever be special to us and this one is no different.
It really was an amazing little lighthouse and the view was spectacular!!! I wish we had gotten there earlier so we could have spent the day. We hadn’t thought about there being a closing time and therefore kind of just decided midday that we would go search for it. We got there with about an hour to spend walking the track, taking in the views, and exploring and learning all about the lighthouse. There are only a few lighthouses in New Zealand that can be fully explored by visitors. You can climb the tower and see the prisms of the original 3rd order dioptric drum lens or take a walk around the Lightkeeper’s balcony and pretend to be a lightkeeper just as we did. For more interesting facts about the lighthouse (as well as learn about their hours of operation) please visit their website here. The Auckland Council even featured one of our photos on their Instagram page which was fun you can find it here.
Some tips for your trip
- Make sure to check the hours the lighthouse is open; weather and holidays could affect hours
- Make sure to pack a coat and umbrella – it can get pretty windy up there
- If you plan wisely pack a lunch it would be a great place to sit, enjoy some lunch, and take in the views
- Take some cash – it is free to enter and enjoy but donations are greatly appreciated and help keep the lighthouse maintained
- Wear comfortable shoes and cloths as you will have to go up 120 stairs to get to the lighthouse and more if you want to go inside and get to the lightkeeper balcony