Windswept volcanic black sand, thundering waves crashing to shore, and a cheeky colony of marine birdlife are just some of the sights that greet you on a visit to Muriwai, one of Auckland’s famous wild west coast beaches, and undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s most iconic.
Standing in the centre of Auckland’s thriving urban metropolis it’s hard to image that such places of raw beauty exist, but venture just 40-minutes west from the beating heart of the ‘City of Sails’ and you’ll stumble across a landscape so rugged and mesmerising it may take you a few moments to catch your breath.
Not only is Muriwai popular with surfers from across the globe who travel to its black sandy shores to ride it’s powerful waves, the beach is home to New Zealand’s largest onshore gannet colony (Takapu - the New Zealand name for the bird) and is one of the few places in the world where you watch this unique bird nest on the mainland.
Experiencing the best of Muriwai Beach
Though the waves are thundering and the sand a unique shade of black, Muriwai is one of the best New Zealand beaches to kick off you shoes, feel the sand between your toes and watch the world go by. The expansive landscape that reaches as far as the eye can see, and swell gushing in from the Tasman Sea, allows you to feel the true force of natural New Zealand.
A stroll along the beach, shoes in hand, is the perfect way to soak up the atmospheric Muriwai beach, but there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. You can canter to your hearts content on the open beach with a guided horse trek or keep your feet firmly on the ground with bush walk into Woodhill Forest - a picture perfect playground for mountain bike enthusiasts, thrill-seeking quad-bikers or those who just fancy getting away from it all on one of the designated walking tracks.
Standing on the beach you may also be surprised to see fishermen fishing from the rocks as wave’s crash around them. Fishing at Muriwai is not for the faint-heart, but it’s exciting to watch the keen fisherman in pursuit of catching some New Zealand Kahawai for a fresh fish dinner.
And of course surfing is never far from the mind at Muriwai, one of the best New Zealand beaches to hit the waves. Those keen to take on the Tasman can do so with a surfing lesson with an experienced instructor.
Other activities include blokarting on the beach or a round of golf on the nearby course, with sublime views that might just put you off your game.
The Muriwai Gannet Colony
No trip to Muriwai is complete without a visit to the famed gannet colony that has made this dramatic New Zealand beach its home. A short stroll along a purpose built boardwalk brings you to a cliff-top viewing platform where you can watch the birds at work, and play, with the immense backdrop of the beach below.
Peaking over the edge of the platform, you are rewarded with the sight of hundreds of gannets swerving high above the cliffs or diving to nest, complete with the noise of chattering bird-talk in what has become globally-recognised as a truly spectacular show of nature.
Established in 1979 the Takapu Refuge, as it is also known, sees approximately 1,200 pairs of the sea-birds nest in this area from August to March. Each pair lays one egg with the parents taking turns to bring the egg to hatch. Muriwai’s cliff-top is the launching pad for the juvenile chicks that, once ready, will begin the process all over again.
Muriwai Beach with MoaTrek
Let MoaTrek take you on an unforgettable journey to some of our most loved New Zealand beaches. With three decades of experience in the touring industry, our expertly crafted small tours take you on a wonderful journey of discovery without any of the hassle.
MoaTrek visit Muriwai Beach on many of our tours, one New Zealand’s most dramatic beaches that really should not be missed.