Excuse us for pointing out the obvious, but Auckland is a city surrounded by water. There are so many great beaches here that we don't know what to do with all of them. Over the past few weeks we have been busy trying to find some new ones a little lesser known. Our toes are now all cut up, our lips are burnt, our clothes smell like sunblock, and there's sand all over the car seats. But we have found some good spots. Enjoy.
Hooks Bay, Waiheke Island
Man O' War Bay Road at the far end of Waiheke is a bit of a nightmare; judders and potholes aplenty. But if you go far enough you will come to the small carpark that marks the start of the Stony Batter Historic Reserve. The walk to Hooks Bay from the carpark takes about 50 minutes, the views on the way down are bloody great and you will likely come across several World War 2 emplacements and plenty of sheep. The beach is a cozy little white sand bay that seems like it would be fairly sheltered most of the time. We went on a weekend day in late November and had the whole beach to ourselves.
Cactus Bay, Waiheke Island
Waiheke is filled with magic little spots but we haven't found any that are quite as perfect as Cactus Bay. It is a decent distance around the coast from Onetangi, and you can catch a peek at it from Man O' War Bay Road. Once upon a time the public could access Cactus Bay through private land but after a longstanding dispute, public access has been blocked and Cactus Bay is now only accessible by boat, or by kayak on a nice flat day. We managed to jump on a mate's boat to cruise round and check it out. It is a nicely shaped white sand beach, the sort of thing you expect to see on postcards and travel magazines. Great for snorkelling, picnicking, and even gets a few nice waves when conditions are right.
Te Harui Bay, Whangaparoa
Not exactly hidden or secret but definitely one of the lesser known and less frequented beaches on the Whangaparoa Peninsula. Te Harui Bay is located at the Shakespear Regional Park just past Gulf Harbour. It's a long, fairly sheltered beach with an awesome backdrop. A good spot for kayaking, paddle boarding or just frothing around with a cricket bat on the sand. Plenty of trees and grass and barely any buildings, so heaps of space to gather up a group of mates and have a picnic. There are also a few decent little walking trails that explore the park.
Anawhata, West Coast
Perched in between Piha and Bethells, this is one of the gems of Auckland's West Coast. You can get there by taking an hour long walk from Piha or by driving to the end of the long and gravelly Anawhata Road and taking a steep 30 minute walk down. The walk down is pretty damn special, lush bush, chirpy birds, and you pass through private property to get there so be respectful. Anawhata is surrounded by steep cliffs and wild shrubs, if you get it on a quiet day it will feel like you are a million miles away from anything. It's advised not to swim at the beach unless it's super calm, and even then you should be weary. If conditions are right there will often be a few surfers out.
Pohutukawa Bay, North Shore
Pohutukawa Bay is popular with the nudies, you have been warned. Park up at the far north end of Long Bay and take a 15 minute stroll along the cliff walk. Alternatively, at low tide you can get there by going to the end of Long Bay Beach and around the rocks. As the name suggests there are some rather nice Pohutukawas overhanging the beach providing the perfect mix of shelter and sun. It makes for a lovely spot to waste away a summer's day, and is also a good place to get your kit off and lose those tan lines if you dare.