How to Spend the Day at Muriwai Beach

August 28


Muriwai Beach is the wild west coast of New Zealand at its very best. With 60km of black sand beach, pounding surf and a quirky little surf community, you’d think you were hours away from the big city. Auckland, however, is just a 35 minutes drive away, making Muriwai Beach a much-loved getaway from the hustle and bustle.


What is Muriwai Beach known for?

Muriwai Beach is probably best known for the wildness of its rugged coastline. This is where black volcanic sand and ancient native rainforest meet the crashing Tasman Sea, and it’s epic. It’s known for its powerful waves, which are great for experienced surfers, but can be terrifying for the rest of us. Being so close to Auckland, it’s the perfect escape. Weave through native New Zealand forest to get there, be met with a deep gulp of salty sea air, and find yourself a world away. It’s also one of New Zealand’s best beaches to watch the sun sink into the horizon, paired with the some fine fish and chips and a cold one.


Muriwai Beach, Auckland is also known for its mighty (smelly) gannet colony. When the weekend roles around, the viewing platforms on the cliffs are filled with people flocking to see the gannets at Muriwai. The gannet colony is in full swing from August through to March, when watching the comings, goings and nesting is a fantastic source of entertainment.

When you’re sick of the gannet colony, the beach has plenty more going for it in the way of attractions. Horse riding along the sand is popular, as is exploring the tracks in the area. South of Otakamiro point at the southern end lies Maori Bay, a popular spot with surfers looking to escape the crowds. Maori Bay has its own car park off Motutara Road, though it’s not right on the beach so it’s a bit of a walk. Be warned, in summer the black sand is lethal for delicate soles. Always bring sandals.


Aside from the black sand, surf and the gannets, the Muriwai Beach is also home to a world-renowned link golf course, which follows the natural curves and contours of the sand dunes. It’s one of the best places to play golf in New Zealand, and the golf club offers great food and wine to round the day off.

What’s the surf like at Muriwai Beach?

In one word? Powerful. This is a wild stretch of coast, with lots of moving water. For surfers with a bit of confidence, it’s amazing. Small days can be good for beginners, and there’s a surf school for lessons and rentals. The Muriwai surf scene is strong, and along with Piha beach and Raglan, this would be one of the better places to surf in the North Island.


Is it a good place to swim?

Swimming on the west coast is definitely a bit sketchy, but the lifeguards at Muriwai are on their game. The beach is patrolled, with the lifeguards putting flags out on the beach, and the best thing you can do for yourself is swim between them. If it’s gentle waters you’re looking for, it’s probably better to head for the beaches east of Auckland.

Is Muriwai Beach dangerous?

If you’re an experienced surfer who knows how to spot rips, currents and waves then it can be just the right amount of exhilarating. For the uninitiated, though, the surf here and down the coast at Piha beach can spell trouble pretty quickly. Only swim on gentle days, and always swim between the flags. For really rough days, there are parks and playgrounds around, too.


How far is Muriwai Beach from Auckland?

Muriwai is about 35 minutes from Auckland’s centre, though as the city’s boundaries spread further to the north and west, it’s actually pretty close to some of these newly urban neighbourhoods. Access to the beach is easy, with several car parks. The main car park is at the south end of the beach and another park is round at Maori Bay.

How do you get to Muriwai Beach from Auckland?

The drive to Muriwai takes you along State Highway One past Waimauku and Huia before heading west through farmland, and then native bush.


What does Muriwai mean in Maori?

In te reo Maori , Muriwai means ‘water’s end’ or ‘backwater’. It may be small and regional, but it’s sure no backwater town – with its stunning beach and world class surfing, this is one popular spot.

Is Muriwai Beach a good place to go walking?

If it’s a long walk along an endless moody stretch of sand and sea you’re after, Muriwai beach is the place. Being nestled into the west coast, it’s actually surrounded by a bunch of awesome walking trails, too. The Te Henga Coastal walkway goes all the way from Bethell’s Beach to the south of Muriwai, hugging the coastline and rewarding with incredible views out to sea. It’s just over 10km one way, and you can access from either end. If it’s just a little walk you’re after, there are plenty of other short tracks around the main bay.

While the South Island may boast Queenstown and the Milford Sound, we would argue that this is the most spectacular place to watch the sunset after a day of surfing, swimming or walking.

Is Muriwai Beach a good place to take the kids?

Heck yeah. There’s a playground, infinite sand for building castles and endless space to tire out little legs. Just watch them near the water – it’s strong and powerful. If you’re visiting with a group, try out a local tour. Usually, a tour will include a guided trip to the gannet colony, and bush walk and a beach picnic. If you’d prefer to do it on your own steam, you can do all of the above for free.

Is there anywhere to get food in Muriwai?

It may only be a half an hour trip out of Auckland, but this is a regional spot, so there’s not much in the way of restaurants in Muriwai. Sand Dunz cafe has great food and coffee, while the Muriwai Lodge Store has basic groceries and some sammies.

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