West Coast Beaches
There are some very beautiful beaches on the west coast, but with their sheer rocks, heavy surf from the stormy Tasman Sea and treacherous undertow they are dangerous for bathers. The following beaches are recommended for good swimmers: the beach at Piha (40km west), Karekare Beach, White's Beach, Bethell's Beach and the beach at Whatipu, at the entrance to Manukau Harbour.Muriwai Beach, about 40 minutes from Auckland is another scenic beach area.
Hauraki Gulf - Hauraki Gulf Beaches
There are a number of good bathing beaches in Hauraki Gulf. Among the most popular are the beaches on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula (40km on Highway 1) and at Orewa and Waiwera.
Tamaki Drive, starting from the Ferry Building, runs for 10km past beautiful stretches of Waitemata Harbour to Judges Bay, below Parnell Park. It then cuts across Hobson Bay to Ohaku Bay, where many leisure craft and yachts are moored. In Orakei a marae constructed jointly by Maoris and whites and a meeting house can be visited.On Bastion Point, further east, there are remains of defensive structures. Some years ago there was a major conflict over land rights between the Maoris and the government when land claimed by the Maoris was to be sold for building luxury houses. Finally in 1988 the government decided to give the land back and pay compensation.On the point is the grave of Michael Joseph Savage (1872-1940), a very popular Labor prime minister. A commemorative column stands out against the triple volcanic peak on Rangitoto Island lying offshore from the point.Then comes Mission Bay, with its beautiful and bathing beach. The mission station founded by Bishop Selwyn is now a restaurant. An exclusive residential district has grown up round the bay.Tamaki Drive ends at Achilles Point, at the east end of Heliers Bay, where a tablet commemorates the cruiser Achilles, which in 1939, along with two other warships, sank the German battleship Graf Spee.
The green hills of the Waitakere Ranges, southwest of Auckland, are a popular recreation area.
Auckland Centennial Park
A particular attraction is the Auckland Centennial Park (64 sq.km), to the south of the Waitakere Ranges area. An information bureau 5km west of Titirangi provides details about the flora of the region, particularly the last stands of kauri trees in this area.
Just under 50km north of Auckland on Highway 1 is the pretty little beach settlement of Waiwera. Its hot medicinal springs were already famed in the 19th C; many people came here to take the cure and spa establishments and hotels were built to cater for them.
To the north of Waiwera is the Wenderholm Reserve, a small nature reserve with attractive picnic areas and fine views of the Hauraki Gulf.
Puhoi, New Zealand
An hour drive north of Auckland, off Highway 1 to the west, is the little township of Puhoi, founded in the 1860s by immigrants from Bohemia.Martin Kippner, a sea captain from Bohemia who had visited New Zealand, gave such a good account of the country that a party of villagers from Staab, 100km southwest of Prague, were encouraged to make the long and trying voyage. They settled in a forested area northwest of the Hauraki Gulf, where they were allotted plots of land and set about clearing the forest for agriculture. In those days the Puhoi River was their only link with the outside world.
Puhoi is a popular destination for excursions from Auckland. At the entrance to the village is the only wayside cross in New Zealand. The Church of St Peter and St Paul (1881) has an altarpiece (1885) reminiscent of others in the Bohemia. In the nearby churchyard are the graves of Bohemian settlers.
Puhoi Hotel (Tavern, German Hotel)
The Puhoi Hotel - previously called the German Hotel - has been in business since 1879. Photographs on the walls recall earlier days.
Map of Auckland Attractions