2017 Beaches (a long awaited review)

This is a nine-month late review, but we were a little slow to start this summer.

These Beaches have all been added to my comprehensive ranking of Auckland beaches, so if you want to see their placement check it out.

Kaitarakihi

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It was such a blustery day yet we managed to stumble onto the calmest little inlet of water in Auckland city. Kaitarakihi is out west so showcases the black sand and crazy rock formations that Auckland beaches are known for – with one notable difference – the water. Instead of facing out to the west coast, Kaitarakihi is on the inner side, directly opposite Manukau heads. It gives the beach an inner-harbour vibe with very sheltered water.

The beach itself was super rural so not near any shops or supplies, though it does have a dubious long drop and nice field picnic area. There were many fisherman and some kayakers so it looks like a cool place to be a little more adventurous in your activities. Overall it was a warm day and good way to kick in to beach season.

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Castor bay

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Castor bay is on the North Shore, a few bays beyond Takapuna Beach. Our bus route gave us a fun fifteen-minute walk that sloped through suburbia, a war memorial and park, many beach house backyards and a stunning beach look out before coming out onto the sand. The beach is small but pretty with a playground and grass area up behind the small crescent of sand. Being an inner city beach the ocean is pretty calm and there were lots of people enjoying the water. We went at low tide which was fun because it was so shallow you could bounce your way out to the pontoon floating but still fit in some slick dives.

While there wasn’t any ice cream nearby Mr Whippy did put up an appearance every forty minutes or so and it was definitely a fun place to be.

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Anchor Bay

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Anchor Bay in Tauwharanui Reserve is beautiful. The whole drive in was epic with stunning scenery and classic ‘only in nz’ sights of pukeko and sheep roaming freely together. The nature reserve is open to all, trying to build up protection of our native animals and plants while still allowing people to come in and experience the beauty. There is a no pests rule which included dogs so not a good one if you have a pup.

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The beach was scorching – and I really do not say that lightly!! There were places further back on the grass with shade for younger families but having just come from a pretty overcast Auckland day we fiended for the sun. It beaches itself is a classic white-sand beauty but the real highlight was the waves.

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Ok so I am not the strongest swimmer (I drown more than swim) but like every kiwi kid raised coastal I am well versed in how to play in the waves. This trip I realised that my very favourite NZ meme is in fact how NZ kids are taught to rush head first into waves x16782 bigger than them. Even though it was pretty safe because we were all firmly on our feet these waves were the kind that raised well above your head with an uneven break which meant you were never really safe from getting absolutely exploded on. There is something so funny to me about seeing a wave rise up, hearing the collective swearing ‘oh fuck’ ‘what the fuck’ ‘ahhh fuck’ from the crowd and then watching as people one by one judged (and misjudged) whether to jump or dive. We were out there for ages crazy diving for unbroken waves, throwing ourselves under the breaks and generally having a laugh – because it was fun.  Every single age group laughing and jumping and spluttering together -the kind of iconic kiwi community that in summer is perfect.

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We ended our trip with a walk up a nearby hill which revealed a neighbouring bay which was a bit more private and peaceful, and an abundance of rock pools and formations that people were exploring. The whole day was magic and finished perfectly on a Kapiti ice cream (in coloured cones!) in Matakana.

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Omaha
Omaha was our fourth beach and goodie, though it was a bit breezy on the day. It was one of those looong, perfect white sand blue water bays and even though it was busy never felt over crowded. The water was similar to Tauwhanui, albeit less brutal (though I got one hefty slap to the head by a wave I should have dived) so we had another laugh bobbing around trying to avoid getting dunked.

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My highlight was after our first swim we saw a little girl floating around in a big puddle left over from the lowering tide. At first it was a joking ‘same’ but literally ten seconds later we were floating there with her because the water was SO WARM.

Like a post-swim spa.

The other excellent benefit of Omaha is that there is selection of shops including a really comprehensive suprette (selling beach equipment as well as ice cream) a two minute walk from the beach. There was also an open surf club which provided changing rooms, toilets and outdoor showers – ideal if you’re with little kids.

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So that is our update to the Auckland beaches summer directory – stay fresh, ride the waves and we’ll see you out there again soon.

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