Auckland’s West Coast Beaches
The west is wild. Whatipu, Karekare, Piha, Bethells and Muriwai beaches all have a remote, untamed beauty that’s good for the soul. Although you’ll feel a world away, many of these beautiful beaches are less than an hour from the city centre, making them ideal day trip destinations.
Piha is popular with experienced surfers, but it’s also a wonderful spot for picnics, relaxing walks and swims – under the watchful eye of the famous Piha Surf Club. See Lion Rock, a small island that stands in the middle of the beach.
Muriwai is an impressive coastline with cliff-top trails to a huge gannet colony, with easy access and viewing platforms that let you get up close. The gannet colony is in residence from August to March. A windswept rugged coastline stretching 60 kilometres, and interrupted only by streams and rivers, makes Muriwai one of New Zealand’s most spectacular black-sand surf beaches. You can hire blokarts, bikes and kites or simply take a stroll along the boardwalk that hugs the coastline and get a dose of fresh ocean air.
Whatipu is at the northern head of the entrance to the Manukau Harbour. Powerful currents cross the sand bars to meet the long ocean swells. Many early ships were lost here when they strayed from the deeper channel. A native forest walk through the ranges returns along this beach with its hill-sized sand dunes, sun-dried driftwood and a cave once used as a ballroom.
Visitors to the west coast beaches need to be aware that the powerful surf creates changing undertows and rips, but you can swim safely where there are surf patrol flags.