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Muriwai Beach, New Zealand is my favorite beach near Auckland and is one of the best beaches on the North Island. This stunning coastline is not only beautiful but actually home to a very impressive Gannet colony.
For any wildlife lover this is a must-see and so long as you visit at the correct time of year you’re guaranteed to see the hundreds of gannets on the Muriwai Beach cliffs.
Visiting Muriwai Beach on a day trip from Auckland is a must and in this blog, I share with you, everything you need to know before you go!
About Muriwai Beach
Getting from Auckland to Muriwai Beach
The easiest way to get from Auckland to Muriwai is to drive. If you don’t have access to a car, consider renting a car as the prices per day are pretty cheap in New Zealand and much cheaper than a tour.
The drive from Auckland to Muriwai Beach only takes 45 minutes and is a nice scenic drive. All the roads to Muriwai are paved and apart from little traffic, the drive should be fairly straightforward.
If driving is not an option for you, the only other option is a tour (there are no buses that run from Auckland to Muriwai Beach.) This Muriwai Beach tour also includes wine tastings along the way that are included in the price!
Related Read: 10 of the best New Zealand road trip itineraries to help you plan your trip!
Things to do at Muriwai Beach, New Zealand
There are a couple of different areas to explore around Muriwai Beach. There are two beach bays, a few different lookouts, and during the right time of year, thousands of Gannet birds nest in the area!
1. Visit the Beaches
Muriwai Beach itself is actually a couple of kilometers long. Exploring the beach is best done by driving along Coast Road or just walking up the beach. There are a couple of different car parks along this road that allows visitors to access Muriwai Beach with a short walk.
If you have a 4wd you can also drive onto the beach, however, you will need to apply for a free permit online.
To the south of Muriwai Beach are some large cliffs. These cliffs are where the Gannet Colony nests from August to March every year (keep reading for more information on the Gannet Colony.)
Just south of the cliffs is another beach definitely worth visiting called Maori Bay. Maori Bay is much smaller than Muriwai Beach and is often much less busy.
Swimming at either Muriwai Beach or Maori Bay is allowed but only recommended for strong swimmers. The waves can be quite large in the area so it is advised to swim with caution.
Muriwai Beach is a popular surf spot too, so if you’re a surfer then Muriwai Beach is a great surf spot that doesn’t attract large crowds!
2. Visit the viewpoints and lookouts
Near Maori Beach, there are various short walking trails to lookouts over the coast, it is simply gorgeous! But you don’t need to walk far to take in some incredible views as from the parking lot it is possible to look out over the bay, see the coastline, and watch some surfers or paragliders.
If you want an even better view, go for a short drive up Waitea Road. On top of the hill, you will be given an awesome birds-eye view of Muriwai Beach and Maori Bay!
Related Read: Here is our ultimate guide for renting a campervan in New Zealand
3. Visit the Muriwai Beach Gannet Colony
Seeing the Gannet Colony at Muriwai Beach is often the biggest attraction for tourists – especially bird lovers! Thousands of Gannets (large white birds) nest on the cliffs separating Muriwai Beach and Maori Bay during the months from August to March.
They say about 1,200 pairs of Gannets call these cliffs home!
When you walk along the boardwalk out to the viewing platforms you will find yourself right next to the Gannets! If you visit in spring all of the Gannets will be having babies and you might be lucky enough to see them!
To be completely honest, I am not a huge bird-lover, but I found these Gannets very interesting. The babies were also very cute! It was an incredible experience and is one of the best things to do in New Zealand!
4. Take a trip to Bethells Beach
Only 40 kilometers (12 miles) from Muriwai Beach is another spectacular beach in New Zealand called Bethells Beach. From Muriwai you can easily make the drive in under 40 minutes, or if you’re up for it, you can walk.
The track to Muriwai Beach takes 3 hours to walk each way so it’s not a short hike (that’s why I personally recommend driving!)
At Bethells Beach there are lots to see including sand dunes, a cave, and the famous surf spot O’Neils Bay. If you wanted to you could turn this trip to Muriwai Beach into a west coast road trip and continue south to Piha Beach visiting 3 of the most popular west coast beaches.
5. Go wine tasting
On the drive out to Muriwai Beach, there are lots of wineries that offer tastings from their cellar door. So, while out this way every wine lover should stop and try some of New Zealand’s amazing wines.
Some of the best wineries to stop at include The Hunting Lodge Winery, Coopers Creek Vinyard, Soljans Estate Winery, and for the beer lovers, Hallertau Brewery.
These wines are quality New Zealand wines (and on a summer day be sure to try the amazing Rose!)
There are a lot of wine tours that start in Auckland with provided transportation. This 5-hour small-group winery tour stops at two of the wineries mentioned above along with Westbrook Winery and also includes lunch! For a slightly shorter tour, check out this winery tour that also visits Muriwai Beach from Auckland.
Related Read: How to spend 2 days in Auckland.
6. Learn to Surf
Muriwai Surf School was opened by a couple in 2002 in their garage and now is right at Muriwai Beach. They offer lessons for those who have never had a surf lesson in their life all the way up to lessons for the advanced individual looking to sharpen their skills.
Muriwai Surf School’s staff are very familiar with the water conditions in this area, many of them have grown up in New Zealand and have been surfing for years so you will be in safe hands.
For beginners, they have 2-hour group lessons that start at $70 NZD and 2-hour one-on-one lessons that begin at $120. Use of their surfboards and wetsuits are included in the price. You can also just rent a board if you don’t need a lesson.
7. Play a round of Golf
If you’re looking to play a few rounds of golf while in the area Muriwai Golf Links is one of the best link courses in New Zealand sandwiched between both sides of Muriwai Beach. While the view is stunning keep in mind being on the coast may pose a challenge on windy days. Each hole has exceptional grass coverage and smooth fast greens. The best part is you can play on this course all year long.
They have a renovated pro shop and clubhouse that includes a kitchen and bar, lounge, and men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers.
Facilities at Muriwai Beach, New Zealand
There are toilet facilities at many of the car parks around Muriwai Beach and Maori Bay. Trails and beaches are signed and marked with information and caution warnings.
There is a café nearby called Sandunz Beach Café as well as a small shop in the town of Muriwai. Here you can get basic supplies and cooked food.
Parking at Muriwai Beach is completely free and there are no time restrictions. Be aware that there are two parking lots, one for Muriwai Beach and the other for the cliffs where the Gannet colony lives.
Where to Stay at Muriwai Beach
Freshwaterfarm Cottages Muriwai – Sandwiched right between Auckland and Muriwai this cozy stay is perfect for a romantic getaway. If you want to treat yourself to this high-end option (around $258 NZD/night) you’ll be impressed by the private porch bathtub and modern cottage decor. A full English/Irish breakfast is available every morning.
Pukeatua Farmstay Waimauku – Just 12 minutes away from Muriwai Beach is a charming budget B&B placed in the middle of a farm. Rooms are simple yet modern. Meet the horse or cats on the property, or simply enjoy the garden views.
Maison de Rose Auckland – Choose from private and stylish apartments units with an open layout and porch. Amenities include a seasonal solar heated pool and BBQ grill. It’s located a 2-minute drive from Swanson Train Station.
Vineyard Cottages Kumeu – While not the most modern, embrace the rustic charm of these old-school cabins. They are still all about the location and privacy, you’ll really feel like you are in your own house. All rooms have kitchens, a sitting area, and a dining room. Only 16km (10mi) from Muriwai Beach.
Thanks for reading!
Overall, I would have to say a quick trip from Auckland to Muriwai beach is definitely a pleasant way to spend a day. Even though when we were there it was too cold to swim, we enjoyed the trails and lookouts. The West Coast near Auckland never ceases to amaze me!
If you have any questions or even just a lovely comment please leave them below, we love to hear from our readers!
If not be sure to check out all our other New Zealand blogs here or check out a few from around Muriwai beach below!