I live on the Hibiscus Coast, a stretch of the Hauraki Gulf coast located 35km north of Auckland, NZ’s largest city. The Hibiscus Coast runs north from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula through Orewa to Waiwera. The area is home to many beaches, and is known to be a number of degrees warmer than the city because of the narrow land mass surrounded by plenty of water.
This summer, my sister Leah and I decided that we would swim at every beach on the Hibiscus Coast (there are 15 in total). Although we have both lived here all our lives, we found that we usually stuck with our local/favourite beaches. There were some beaches we hadn’t swum at for years … or ever! So in an attempt to fully enjoy and capture the beauty of where we live, we set ourselves this challenge. It was heaps of fun, and we both discovered new favourites. I think we both have a renewed appreciation for the amazing place we live. We are so, so lucky that this is our playground!
Here are some photo collages I made of our adventures … enjoy! :-)
Starting in the north:
Wenderholm is one of the most beautiful regional parks in the area. Located between Puhoi and Waiwera Rivers, the park’s headland enjoys picturesque views at every turn. A quiet sandy beach has commanding views of the Hauraki Gulf while the Pohutukawa trees overlooking the beach provide welcome shade during the hotter months.
The name Waiwera is of Māori origin and means “Hot Water”. Its main claim to fame is the hot water springs. Waiwera is a sandy beach located at the mouth of the Waiwera River.
Hatfields Beach is a small beach north of Orewa. It offers a short stretch of soft white sand and safe swimming for the kids. Take a stroll around the cliffs at low tide. The beach is great for water sports. The boat ramp can be used to launch the boat in any tide, and kayakers will enjoy exploring the coastline.
Orewa is famous for its beautiful beach – three kilometres of golden sand for all to enjoy. Orewa Beach is the gateway to the Hibiscus Coast and one of north Auckland’s most popular beaches.
Heading out along the Peninsula, down the northern side …
Red Beach features smooth, fine sand and some great views, making it a nice beach for a walk alongside the amazing naturally-formed rock steps and huge gnarled trees.
Stanmore Bay (Leah’s local and the beach we grew up at as kids) is a very safe two kilometre long swimming beach with a ski lane, boat ramps, a large playground, soccer fields and picnic areas, with plenty of shade.
Swann Beach is a small cove situated between Stanmore Bay and Big Manly. It is less well known than the other beaches, and is frequented mostly by locals.
Big Manly beach (my local) is approximately one kilometre from end to end and is very sheltered from all winds except for strong north easterlies. No matter what the tide the beach is sandy all the to the water’s edge with very few rocks or obstacles. The beach has great facilities including a large car park area, children’s playground, changing & toilet facilities and more. There’s also a sailing school directly opposite the main boat ramp.
Tindalls Bay is one of the lesser known beaches on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. A beautiful sandy beach with very sheltered calm waters in most conditions this is another family favourite for locals and people in the know.
Army Bay has a beautiful sandy beach that gives some amazing views over the Hauraki Gulf. The beach area is very sheltered from any southerly winds, and the large step retaining wall that separates the car park and changing room areas from the beach gives great protection against the wind.
This is the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula (there are other beaches on private defence force land), so we head back along the Peninsula, down the south side:
Te Haruhi Bay
Te Haruhi Bay is one of the larger beaches on the Peninsula and has stunning views from both the water’s edge and all of the many walking tracks within easy reach. The bay is located in one of Auckland’s leading wildlife sanctuaries, Shakespear Regional Park. The park has facilities that allow people to hire large entertaining areas with BBQs and sun shade.
Part of Shakespear Regional Park, at high tide Okoromai Bay is a safe paddling beach for young children as the water never gets that deep. The bay is a favourite for cocklers as the shallow sand beds can reveal hundreds if not thousands of these little delicacies at low tide.
Matakatia Bay is one of the quieter beaches on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, set back from the main road. The water here is very shallow and at low tide you can walk a significant way out before even getting in to waist high water. This shallow water makes it a safe paddling beach for young children.
Little Manly beach is the smallest beach on the Peninsula and just past the halfway point on Whangaparaoa Road. The beach is approximately 100 metres from end to end and sheltered from northerly winds by a large step retaining wall. The waters here are very sheltered from any northerly winds and direct easterly and westerly wind. This makes for calm waters that are ideal for swimming and kayaking.
Arkles Bay is a south west facing bay on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. This quiet bay faces Rangitoto in the southeast, and Long Bay (Marine Reserve) directly south. Arkles Bay is popular for watersports enthusiasts of all types, from yachties and kayakers to swimmers.