Piha is one of Auckland’s most popular surfing beaches – but its size means it never feels crowded. Take a surf lesson, refuel at the café and stretch your legs afterwards on one of the local walks. Take the nearby Kitekite Track to see the beautiful Kitekite Falls; it’s a short, easy walk through the Waitakere Ranges’ native forest and it’s suitable for the whole family.
Climb Lion Rock, Piha’s most iconic landmark, and see the Māori carving. Lion Rock stands watch over the waves, sitting majestically between Piha and Little Piha Beaches.
Take in the beauty of Muriwai’s rugged landscape and visit the famous cliff-top gannet colony, where around 1200 pairs of gannets nest from August to March. The viewing platforms give you sweeping views far over the Tasman Sea.
Stroll along the boardwalk that hugs the coastline and breathe in the crisp sea air, alongside the wild waves and rolling black sand dunes. Keen to get active? Take a lesson at the local surf school or hire blokarts, kites, mountain bikes or surfboards, or play a round of golf at the nearby course.
Te Henga (Bethells Beach)
Te Henga (Bethells Beach) is more sheltered than some of the other west coast beaches, making it a great swimming spot. A short walk from the water, go sliding down the sand dunes at Lake Wainamu, or take the four-hour walk between Muriwai and Te Henga.
Karekare’s remote, dramatic landscapes have inspired filmmakers, writers and photographers, most notably in Jane Campion’s The Piano. The beautiful Karekare Falls is just the short walk from the main beach.
The striking black-sand beach of Whatipu is located amongst an area of sand dunes, rocky cliffs, caves, and wetlands. The Omanawanui Track in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park offers stunning views and takes just over 2 hours to complete. Venture onto the Whatipu Caves Track to pass by numerous old sea caves for a 45 minute return hike.
Just an hour south from the city centre, Karioitahi is something of a hidden gem, even to many Aucklanders. There’s so much to do here – horse riding, surfing, blokarting, paragliding, hang gliding and 4 wheel driving. If you’d rather keep it chilled out, take a walk and leave the action behind, or go fishing with the locals.
On your way there or back, explore nearby Waiuku Forest, with a range of tracks, trails and recreational activities, or drive to the end of Awhitu Peninsula and climb the Manukau Heads Lighthouse.