America’s Cup 2021: The best spots in Auckland to watch the Prada Cup races

With the Prada Cup races getting under way from today, Cheree Kinnear rates Auckland’s offshore viewing spots.

There are five racecourses on the Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata Harbour with selection depending on the weather conditions.

The racecourse will be selected by America’s Cup officials on race days by 10:30am.

Course A

Kennedy Park

View: 8
Space: 6
Accessibility: 7
Total: 21/30

Famously known for its steep 120-step staircase down to Castor Bay, Kennedy Park provides a great elevated viewing spot of Course A. There’s very little to obstruct your view and is close enough to catch all of the action. Its large and recently-renovated viewing platform has plenty of space for spectators.

Just off the main road, Kennedy Park is easy to get to and the viewing platform is just a few minutes walk from the carpark. There’s a decent amount of spots to park your car next to the playground but street parking might prove necessary on a crowded day.

Bus route from Britomart (35min): Take Bus NX1 to Smales Farm Bus Station. Connect onto Bus 856 to Stop 3340 at Beach Rd/Kennedy Park.

Campbells Bay

View: 7
Space: 9
Accessibility: 8
Total: 24/30

On the East Coast of the North Shore, Campbells Bay is the best spot to catch a glimpse of Course A from the shoreline. Drive down The Esplanade (off Beach Road) to access free parking or easily catch the bus.

Bus route from Britomart (40min): Take Bus NX1 to Smales Farm Bus Station. Connect onto Bus 856 to Stop 3247 at Beach Rd. Walk 4mins to Campbells Bay.

Course B

Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve

View: 8
Space: 9
Accessibility: 8
Total: 25/30

This historic park elevated above Narrow Neck Beach is a great spot with plenty of grassland area. Fort Takapuna consists of two main buildings, the larger barracks built in the 1880s, and a smaller brick building built by the navy in the 1920s, both of which you can explore while there.

There’s plenty of parking at the end of Gillespie Place and nearby bus stops.

Bus route from Britomart (44min): Take Bus NX1 to Akoranga Bus Station. Catch Bus 814 to Stop 3496. Walk 5mins to Fort Takapuna.

North Head

View: 10
Space: 9
Accessibility: 7
Total: 26/30

Both high and close enough to the east end of the harbour, you get a full 360 degree view from North Head. There’s plenty of space to find a good spot and is unlikely to feel crowded.

A couple minutes drive from the heart of Devonport, North Head is a great spot for those on the North Shore. It’s also not a far drive if you’re coming from across the bridge and taking the ferry could also be an option if you’re up for a 30-minute journey by foot. With very limited parking space at the top, it’s likely you’ll have to find a spot off the street if driving.

Bus route from Britomart (56min): Take Bus NX1 to Akoranga Bus Station. Catch Bus 814 to Stop 3478. Walk 15mins to North Head.

Course C

Bastion Point

View: 5
Space: 8
Accessibility: 7
Total: 20 /30

As one of the spots suggested as a viewing area by organisers, I was a little surprised by the lack of view. The thick shrubbery around the cliffside make it difficult to get a clear view of the harbour. There’s plenty of space at Bastion Point within the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park though. The scenery would make it a stunning spot to enjoy a picnic or relax in the sunshine, but how much of the races you’ll see… I’m not convinced.

There’s a carpark at the top of Hapimana Street with free parking, but if that were to fill up, it could be difficult to find anywhere close with no off-street parking on Tamaki Drive – the bus would be your best option.

Bus route from Britomart (21min): Take Bus TMK to stop 7326 on Tamaki Drive. Walk 5mins to Bastion Point.

Okahu Bay Wharf

View: 6
Space: 7
Accessibility: 5
Total: 18/30

The Okahu Bay Wharf, located across the road from Kelly Tarlton’s, provides a good view of the starting point of Course C. Its extended length allows space for plenty of people to watch. Parking could prove an issue, however, with the Kelly Tarlton’s free parking usually full and the closest off-street parking at Okahu Bay – about a five-minute walk from the wharf.

Bus route from Britomart (14min): Take Bus TMK to stop 7320 to Kelly Tarlton’s.

Course D

Glover Park

View: 7
Space: 8
Accessibility: 8
Total: 23/30

This secluded viewing point at the top of Glover Park provides an unbeatable view of Course D. To get here, park at Glover Park, walk past the football fields and up the left-side track. You’ll eventually reach the clifftop where there’s plenty of space to get comfy and watch the races.

Parking is aplenty here, whether it’s in the Glover Park free parking lot or on the streets surrounding.

Bus route from Britomart (39min): Take Bus TMK to 7344 at St Heliers. Catch Bus 744 to Stop 7346 at Vale Rd. Walk 11mins to Glover Park.

Mission Bay & Kohimarama Beach

View: 8
Space: 10
Accessibility: 8
Total: 26/30

The Mission Bay and Kohimarama Beaches offer a great view of the entirety of Course C and the back end of Course D.Just a short drive from the CBD and Southern/Northern motorways, this coastline is the obvious choice. There’s plenty of free parking at both beaches but could fill up quickly.

Bus route from Britomart (18min): Take Bus TMK to stop 7019 at Mission Bay. Continue to Stop 7334 for Kohimarama Bay.

Achilles Point

View: 9
Space: 7
Accessibility: 7
Total: 23/30

Achilles Point offers a stunning view, with its extra elevation from the beach a major tick. A rocky point on the headland at the eastern end of Ladies Bay, Achilles Point Path has an extended viewing platform.

A two-minute drive from Kohimarama Beach, Achilles Point is easy to get to. There’s a small parking lot at the top (off Cliff Road) with free parking, but finding a spot further down and walking to the platform will probably be a safer option traffic-wise. The bus would also be a great transport option.

Bus route from Britomart (28min): Take Bus TMK to stop 7344 St Heliers. Walk 6mins to Achilles Point.

Brown's Island

View: 9
Space: 8
Accessibility: 2
Total: 19/30

Yes, Brown’s Island isn’t exactly the easiest place to get to, but it’s hard to see past how good of a view you’d get. The north side of the Island is just a couple of kilometres from the end of course D, putting you the closest to the action from offshore.

No ferry will be able to get you there, however, so you’d need to launch your own boat or kayak. Also, keep in mind all the boats expected to be zipping around the harbour on race days. You can only get to the Island through Crater Bay and would then need to walk across the coastline to get the best view.

Rangitoto Island

View: 9
Space: 9
Accessibility: 5
Total: 23/30

The Coastal Track is what you’ll want to take to view Course D with plenty of spots along the coast, while a walk in the opposite direction toward Coast Guard Bay will put you directly across from the North Shore where Course B is situated between. A walk up to the summit could also be a good idea if you’ve got some binoculars handy.

Getting to Rangitoto is only a short ferry ride away but you’ll need to book ahead. Tickets are $39 return for an adult and $19.50 return for a child.

Course E (1)

Waiheke Island

View: 4
Space: 7
Accessibility: 6
Total: 17/20

Waiheke is one of the only offshore spots to view the left Course E – but you’ll be better off with a pair of binoculars.

A short ferry ride direct from Auckland city will get you to the Island for $42 adult return or $21 child return, there are also family ticket deals. You’ll also need to sort transport on your arrival.

Course E (2)

Maraetai Beach

View: 8
Space: 9
Accessibility: 9
Total: 26/30

Maraetai Beach is the perfect offshore spot to view the right side Course E. There’s plenty of space across the shoreline and lots of parking. On a sunny summer’s day, this is the spot to be.

Bus route from Britomart (2hr, 11min): Take Bus 70 to Botany Town Centre, Catch Bus 739 to Stop 6682 at Maraetai Beach.

Heading into the Cup racing?

• Be aware that traffic will be busy, and parking will be very limited.

• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus instead.

• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride to the Cup.

• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.

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