With a Māori name that translates as 'Long Island', this low-lying expanse forms an 8km-long barrier to the ocean with a gorgeous sandy beach spread along its entire length. A pine plantation forest provides shade for the cyclists on the Great Taste Trail, which passes through. You're very likely to see weka here, inquisitive flightless birds similar to kiwi but with much shorter beaks.
Rabbit Island is the largest of a brace of islands at the mouth of the Waimea River with similarly prosaic names such as Best, Rough, Bird and Bell. A signposted turn-off from SH60 leads onto Redwood Rd, which passes by bridge onto Rough Island and then Rabbit Island. The bridge closes at sunset and overnight stays are not allowed. The island can also be reached by the Māpua Ferry ($12 return, 10 minutes), run by Kiwi Journeys, but in winter this only operates on weekends.