We started in Whangaparaoa. Accredited nice beach area with lots of cute, little shops. I highly recommend the bakery located available in Manly, as well as Sparx Cafe. (The Eggs Benedict at Sparx are that are awesome!) However, Whangaparaoa is quite far over heart of Auckland and located in the Hibiscus Coast, and not worth the drive unless you're visiting friends or so