Muriwai Beach is a household name among surfers and kitesurfers in Auckland and beyond. But you don’t have to be a water sports enthusiast to find plenty to do and explore in this idyllic seaside village.
This small settlement, about 40km north-west of Auckland CBD, is home to around 1300. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot here, other than some houses and, of course, the seemingly endless black sand beach. But spend a few days at Muriwai, and you’ll find there is so much more to discover.
Set up your base at Muriwai Beach Campground and you can do most of your exploring on foot. The campground offers modern facilities, is well-maintained and run by a very friendly team. There are powered and unpowered sites, and they allow dogs in the off-season. Located just behind the dunes, it’s only a two-minute walk to the beach, and if you get one of the sites higher up, you even get some sea views – and incredible sunsets on clear days. Once you’ve set up, get ready to explore.
Visit the gannet colony
Muriwai Beach is one of only three places in New Zealand where gannets nest on the mainland, and it’s undoubtedly the most accessible. From the campground, it’s only a short walk via the Maukatia/Maori Bay walkway or the stairs at the southern end of the beach up to the colony. If you don’t want to walk, you can drive up to the Maukatia/Maori Bay car park. Once there, you’ll find a very well maintained walking track to several lookouts where you can get closer to the birds than anywhere else in New Zealand. Around 1200 of them nest here from August to March. Bring binoculars, and you might even see some eggs and baby gannets.
Go for a walk – or several
Aside from the obvious choice of walking along the shore, there are also walking paths in the dunes behind the beach if you fancy a change of scenery for the return.
But for those who like to get their heart rate up, the tracks in the hills offer a great alternative – and impressive views. You can access the track network from Waitea Road, either via the stairways just north of the turno to the campground or via the Quarry Track just south of the turnoff. At both points, you will find maps of the track network and can plan your walk from there. The Lookout Track is highly recommended for those who want to take in expansive views over the beach and the wider area.
It doesn’t end there. You can find more walking tracks in the forest at the end of Coast Road, most of which are also mountain bikefriendly. In addition, the northern start of the Te Henga Walkway is only a short drive away, as is the Goldie Bush Walkway.
Have fun at the beach
Muriwai is an excellent place for a relaxing stroll on the beach or reading a book while soaking up the sun. At low tide, there is a cave to explore at the southern end of the beach. If you want a bit more action, there are also plenty of options. Hire a board or book yourself in for a surf lesson or blokart adventure with the local surf school, go horse riding with Muriwai Beach Horse Treks or go for a swim in the waves. However, if you do venture into the water, be aware that Muriwai Beach is notorious for big, powerful waves and strong rips and currents. In other words, you want to be a confident swimmer before braving the sea.
Play a round of golf
Whether you are a seasoned golfer or just keen to give it a go, Muriwai Golf Club welcomes you. The club offers 18-hole championship golf links along with a putting green and short game driving range, which includes chipping green and practice bunkers complemented by a full-length driving range. And all of that with ocean views and the sounds of waves in the background.
Fuel up at the cafe
Just a few minutes on foot from the beach and the campground, you find Sand Dunz Beach Café, where you can grab breakfast, lunch, ice creams and, of course, coffee. With no other shops or cafes in the village, this place can get busy on summer weekends so plan ahead. If you want more food options, take the 10-minute drive to Waimauku where you will find a supermarket as well as several cafes and takeaway places.
Catch your own dinner
The Sand Dunz Café and driving back to Waimauku aren’t the only ways to fill your dinner plate. Muriwai is also a popular spot for fishermen and women who can often be seen launching their Kontiki off the beach – just watch out for swimmers and surfers in the water. If you have a four-wheel-drive, you can get onto the beach from the end of Coast Road. Head north from there and you won’t have a difficult time finding a spot without people in the water.
Fun for the kids
While the beach alone is probably enough to keep children entertained for a while, it’s good to know that there are a few extra options as well. By the car park at the southern end of the beach, you will find a modern playground, and if you walk north-east from the campground towards Coast Road, you will come across a pump-track as well as tennis courts next to the re station. As you can see, there is something to do for everyone in Muriwai Beach. So if you’re an Aucklander looking for a short trip away, this is a great option. And if you’re just passing through, Muriwai is well worth a detour.
For more information
Surf School: muriwaisurfschool.co.nz
Horse Treks: muriwaibeachhorsetreks.co.nz
Golf Club: muriwaigolfclub.co.nz