There is something mystical about black sand beaches. Their moody landscapes, usually complemented by huge rocks here and there, transfer you to the ancient times before humans and maybe even dinosaurs were making their first steps on Earth, to the times, when our planet was ruled by volcanic eruptions and powerful forces of nature. Today’s black sand beaches are tranquil and absolutely safe (unless you behave recklessly but then it’s not their fault) but are still really breathtaking. There quite a few black sand beaches nearby Auckland and here are Top-3 that everyone should visit.
There is something special about every Auckland black sand beach but Muriwai definitely stands out among them all. This place was chosen to be their home by the most beautiful birds – gannets. And should I say, they’ve made a perfect choice – this place couldn’t be any more picturesque. Seeing over 1,000 birds flying around the rugged cliffs, catching fish or building the nests is breathtaking! There is no other place in New Zealand, where you can see so many gannets just five minutes away from a carpark. The best time to see gannets is from August to March.
There is also the 1.30 hours loop track along the beach, through the dunes and along the Coast Road. Or you can even walk to Bethells Beach – we haven’t been there yet but people say it’s stunning.
Muriwai beach is 40 km from Auckland, there is a convenient, fairly big carpark with toilets and a lovely cafe Sand Dunz (creamed mushrooms on foccacia are yum!).
Anawhata is honestly the most spectacular black sand beach ever! I’ve even included it on the list of the most spectacular beaches in New Zealand before 🙂 The landscape is so wild and so diverse – they could’ve easily filmed Jurassic Park here!
Piha’s lesser know sister, this beach is a bit trickier to get to – not far away from Piha Beach, you’ll need to turn to a scenic 10 km long gravel road. Leave your car at a small carpark overlooking the beach (there is also a toilet available) and start a steep walk down. All these obstacles – gravel road, the need to climb uphill back to
If you cross Anawhata Stream and go further (beware of the rising tide!), you’ll reach another beautiful place – Parera Bay. And make sure you don’t miss the hidden gem of this place – Keyhole Rock, sitting pretty behind the cliffs.
Probably the most well-known black sand beach in Auckland, Piha is
Unlike previous beaches, that are all about pristine wild nature, Piha feels more like a coastal village – there are lots of people, lots of houses seen on the hills around and a great cafe with awesome views nearby (whatever you order here, it will always be juicy, delicious and so-so good).
Climbing up the Lion Rock – a piece of an ancient volcano towering right in the middle of the beach – will definitely be a highlight of your visit. The higher you go – the more incredible the views become. I personally prefer moody, wet and mysterious Piha but, obviously, it’s not the most comfortable weather for hiking, so if you’re lucky to have great weather, be ready to see incredibly blue water and vivid green hills. Unfortunately, these days you can’t get to the very top but there is a lovely bench at the end of the available part of the climb that is just amazing for a quick sandwich break with a view. There are also very informative signs along the way, take a break and have a read to learn more about this area.
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