Where Auckland is mainly recognised now as a concrete jungle plagued by constant traffic and looming house prices, there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Just a twenty minute drive from the central city you can simply enter a place of natural wonders that showcase how picturesque New Zealand really is. You can get lost in untouched native forest and walk along the windswept beaches with crashing waves, experiencing the lush beauty Auckland’s West Coast Beaches. From black sand beaches with wild waves to hidden golden bays, Auckland’s West Coast Beaches have so much to offer whether it is a place to relax and soak up the sun, or to go on an adventure and delight in all the activities they have to give.
Just forty minutes from Auckland’s city centre you can indulge in the black sand beauty of Muriwai Beach. Not only can you have a dip in the waves and gaze at the sand dunes, but you can walk up the cliff tops and get up close to the spectacular gannet colony, where 1200 pairs of gannets visit from August to March. You can walk along the board line that hugs the shore, take a couple of surf lessons, camp for a couple nights at the campground, enjoy a bit of golf at the nearby golf course, and go on a horse ride along the beach.
Te Henga (Bethells Beach) is another popular spot on Auckland’s West Coast; while it is smaller than the other West Coast beaches it is just as magnificent. With black sand and a dramatic coastline, isolated behind the sand dunes is Lake Wainamu that is a cosy and popular swimming alternative if you don’t want to brave the waves. If you are a fan of surfing, head on the track to the northern headland where you can walk to secluded O’Neill Bay.
Piha is particularly popular with experienced surfers and considered one of New Zealand’s most popular surf beaches. It is well known for its crashing waves that snapped canoes in two during the Uncle Toby’s Iron Man Contest that was held in 1997. However, you can enjoy walks, picnics, and surf under the watchful eye of the Piha Surf Club and Lion Rock, a small rugged island that stands guard over the beach.
KareKare Beach reached international fame when it was featured in the Oscar Winning movie by Jane Campion, The Piano, which hit our screens in 1993. Located in the Waitakere Ranges, KareKare is considered one of New Zealand’s most magnificent beaches, offering picnics, walks, and surf and the Karekare waterfall, known as ‘Te Ahoaho,’ is also a short walk from the main beach. The landscape of KareKare is a magnet, alluring not only to local residents and tourists but to local New Zealand artists including Albrecht, Binney, Blomfield, Buchanan and Siddell.
From Central Auckland, take State highway 16, turning off to your choice of paradise, and experience the wild and rugged beauty that the West Coast Beaches have to offer. It is a place you simply can’t miss.