Travel Articles

Auckland Beaches

Auckland's beaches are a key recreational space, offering coastal walkways, picnic and barbecue facilities, swimming and surfing. There are safe inner-city beaches on the North Shore and around Tamaki Drive, while the rugged west coast is known for its wild surf beaches.

Waiheke Island

This popular beauty spot is well known for its magnificent sandy beaches and picturesque coves. The golden sand beach at Oneroa is handy to the main centre's cafés and craft shops, while the island's only pub overlooks the sweeping sands of Onetangi Beach. Towards the far end of the island, the tidal beaches of Orapui, Man o' War Bay and Cowes Bay require private transport to be reached, although the dramatic coastal scenery is well worth the drive. Camping is permitted at Whakanewha Regional Park, where the crescent-shaped Half Moon Bay is ideal for swimming, windsurfing and kayaking at high tide. The shelly foreshore is also home to native wading birds.

North Shore

Across the Harbour Bridge, the sandy beaches of Takapuna, Milford, Cheltenham, Narrow Neck and Long Bay provide safe, sheltered swimming and opportunities for watersports such as windsurfing and sailing. Long Bay is well-equipped with barbecue facilities and offers a lovely coastal walk along the cliff-tops.

East of Auckland

Heading east out of Auckland Central along Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay, Kohimarama and St Heliers have sheltered swimming beaches, lively seaside cafés and a range of watersports including sailing, kayaking and windsurfing. The waterfront promenade along Tamaki Drive is popular with joggers, rollerbladers and walkers, and an ideal place to enjoy views of the city's scenic harbour. Further out, in Auckland East at Howick, Half Moon Bay is a centre for boaties and boasts an excellent marina.

West Coast

The black-sand beaches of the West Coast are known for their wild waves and rugged beauty and are especially popular with surfers and hikers. There are also some lovely coastal walks in this region. The West Coast beaches are best visited using private transport, although some tour companies offer wilderness walks and adventures to these areas, including Auckland Adventures.

  • Piha
    A popular holiday resort with a lovely black-sand surf beach. Currents can be dangerous and swimmers should stay between the flags during summer. North of the beach, walking trails lead to lookouts over the Tasman Sea on Te Waha Point and Fisherman's Rock Point. For those with a head for heights, a steep track leads up Lion Rock (101 metres), providing excellent views at the top. South of the beach, another track leads over the hill to the Gap with its raging seas, and on to the Piha blowhole further up the valley.
  • Karekare
    A beautiful surf beach hemmed in by high promontories at either end, with good walking tracks along the cliff-tops overlooking the Tasman Sea.  A track leads around the shoreline to Whatipu but is only negotiable at low tide. The opening scenes of Jane Campion's film The Piano were shot here.
  • Whatipu
    One of Auckland's scenic gems, this 12-kilometre-long black-sand beach is popular with surfers, walkers and fishers. There are caves to explore along the length of the beach, and the sands now cover an old kauri dance-floor which once hosted outdoor dances. Whatipu Lodge, a 140-year-old farmhouse behind the beach, provides self-catering accommodation and a 1-hectare campsite with pit toilets and running water.
  • Muriwai
    The longest of Auckland's west coast beaches (50 kilometres), Muriwai is part of an 183-hectare regional park catering for swimmers, surfers, golfers, birdwatchers and bushwalkers. The beach is home to a thriving gannet colony and a scenic boardwalk leads from the parking area to special viewing platforms, allowing superb views of the birds. The cliffs behind Maori Bay, just around the south headland from Muriwai, contain some of the world's best-preserved examples of pillow lava, formed by underwater volcanic eruptions about 17 million years ago. Trails lead up into the bush from Waitea Road and provide good views up the coast. Muriwai Beach Motor Camp, behind the sand dunes, offers caravan and tent sites, with hot showers, toilets, laundry and cooking facilities.
  • Te Henga (Bethells)
    Named for the canoe-hull forms of the sand dunes, Te Henga was the location for many scenes in the Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess television series. The black sand stretches for kilometres, while the rocks provide a good spot for fishing.
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