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Location suggestions: beachy long weekend from Auckland?

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Hello! I'm heading down next month for my third trip to New Zealand. Directly after my arrival in NZ the day after Thanksgiving, I have a few days to 'kill' in the general vicinity of Auckland. I was thinking I'd spend about four-ish days at a nice beachy area for sun and swimming. I'm hoping some of the board experts could suggest a suitable place (1) not too far from Auckland, (2) where I could ideally get to and around without renting a car just yet, and (3) if possible, also with at least a touch of mellow nightlife -- i.e., one or two inns/pubs open til 9 pm on weekend evenings, let's say. (More lively than that is also okay, of course.)

A couple places that piqued my interest during initial research were Piha (but fairly certain I'd require a car to get there and I understand the surf is quite rough), and Waiheke Island - I think I can get to the latter without a car but would need one or at least a scooter once there, is that right? I know that's a quite posh and expensive place, but OTOH, there's wine tasting too. ;)

The guidebooks I have don't really talk to much about the 'vibe' of places, so I just hope to collect a few knowledgeable suggestions to focus my further research. Oh, and I have been to the Coromandel peninsula before; not sure if I'll plan on that again this time or not.

Thank you in advance!

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