When most people go looking for rugged beauty in New Zealand, the South Island is the default destination… but the North Island has it’s fair share of rocky coastline and wide open plains too.
Best of all, some of it is less than an hour from Auckland.
We recently headed across the pond to visit our Kiwi relatives over the Anzac long weekend and got a chance to explore a little of Auckland and beyond. Though there were a lot of highlights, our favourite spot was easily the beautiful Muriwai Beach.
Located just 40 minutes west of Auckland, Muriwai is a vast 60km stretch of black volcanic sand framed by grassy dunes and rocky outcrops.
The beach’s best-known attraction is the gannet colony where around a thousand gannets return from August to March. A walking trail from the car park leads up and over the headland to a viewing platform where you can see the nesting area.
Another gem is the cave found just near the car park. It’s pretty small, but inside the walls of the cave are covered in over a hundred years worth of names and dates carved into the rocks.
Some of the markings we spotted dated back to 1908, though there’s no way of knowing if that was real or not. The romantic in us wanted to believe.
Muriwai may not rate as a main reason to visit Auckland, but if you’re visiting it’s a great spot to get a feel for where the locals like to hang out.
Learn more about New Zealand at newzealand.com
When You Go
How to get around
Hertz are our preferred car hire provider. We rented a Toyota Highlander for the weekend, complete with a portable GPS to help us find our way around – an essential. New Zealand signage has a tendency to be on the small side at times so it’s useful having voice navigation to help find the correct lane.