Several companies run city orientation tours or special-interest excursions outside town.
Pakiri Beach Horse Rides. Pakiri Beach Horse Rides, north of Auckland, runs trips from several hours to several days, all incorporating a ride on the namesake white-sand beach. You might ride through groves of pohutukawa, which are ablaze with red flowers in the summer, or across the sand dunes with inspiring views of islands on the horizon or even go from the East to the West Coast. The proprietors are very conscious of horse welfare and don't take riders who weigh more than 210 lbs without prior arrangement. 317 Rahuikiri Rd., Pakiri Beach, R.D. 2, Wellsford, Auckland, 0940. 09/422–6275; www.horseride-nz.co.nz. NZ$175 half-day, NZ$299 full-day, including packed lunch.
Potiki Adventures. Potiki Adventures cultivates an air of intimacy with its small groups and friendly, open tour guides. You'll travel to Waiheke Island by ferry for an experience that includes a trip around the island, visit to an ancient fortified village, a weaving demonstration, and the chance to hear and play Māori musical instruments. Lunch is at one of the many cafés on the island. Potiki also offers customized private tours that include meeting Māori artists and gallery visits. 68 Ocean Rd., Waiheke Island, Hauraki Gulf Islands, Auckland, Auckland, Auckland 1081. 09/372--3477; www.potikiadventures.co.nz. From NZ$150 excluding ferry fares.
TIME Unlimited. You'll have the time of your life on any of the tours offered by TIME Unlimited. The company integrates Māori culture with activities like kayak-fishing and trail walking and can arrange an overnight stay at a marae (meetinghouse). TIME, through its concessions with the Department of Conservation and Māori tribes, can take visitors to places often out of reach of other tours, and they will customize a tour to meet your specific needs and time frame. Transport is in late-model Mercedes vehicles. Suite 276, 92 Franklin Rd., Freemans Bay, Auckland, Auckland, Auckland 1011. 09/446–6677; www.newzealandtours.travel. From NZ$265.
Auckland Adventures. This long-established company offers half- and full-day trips featuring tours ranging from visits to the West's vineyards and a beach or two, to mountain biking, to a compressed overview of Auckland. Personalized tours can be arranged. Auckland, Auckland. 09/379–4545; www.aucklandadventures.co.nz. From NZ$145.
Bush and Beach Ltd.. Whether you are a Lord of the Rings fan, an outdoor adventurer, or a wine buff you'll find something from Bush and Beach to meet your needs and time frame. Tours range from a quick-ish tour of Lord of the Rings set Hobbiton to a full-day excursion that includes rain forest plus black-sand West Coast beaches, wineries, and a visit to where Jane Campion's The Piano was filmed. There are also tours of Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Custom tours are also available. Auckland, Auckland. 09/837–4130; www.bushandbeach.co.nz. From NZ$78 for 3-hr city tour.
Fine Wine Tours. The four-hour West Auckland tour takes in several wineries and includes a picnic lunch and, weather permitting, a visit to a black-sand beach. The full-day Waiheke Island tour covers a number of wineries and lunch. Tour host Phil Parker is an authority on New Zealand wines (you may meet his pooch Merlot who sometimes goes on the tour) and he has published a guide to the country's wine regions. Custom tours can be arranged. 09/845–6971; www.insidertouring.co.nz. From NZ$269.
NZWinePro Auckland Wine Tours. If you are pushed for time, but still want to fit in a vineyard, these four-hour tours may be the ticket. They are based around wine-growing areas to Auckland's north and west, plus Waiheke Island. The company also tailors tours to your grape or wine choice. 417a Tamaki Dr., Auckland, Auckland, Auckland 1071. 09/575–1958; www.nzwinepro.co.nz. From NZ$185.