Monday, March 12, 2012

Dashfield City Guide: Wild West Coast

Anybody from around here will tell you that you're mad if you come all the way to Auckland and never get out of the city.  Beyond the traffic, noise and people lay some of the most amazing beaches in the world!  Auckland's wild, wild west is known for its heavy black sand, hidden waterfalls, dark caves and some seriously dangerous surf.  There's something about this place that just recharges you and makes you forget all of life's stresses, even if it's just for a day.  Most of these beaches are about 20 - 45 minutes of the city and definitely require you to have a car.  The best thing to do is to make a day of it.  Pack a picnic, take a book, grab your togs, a good group of friends and head out in the morning.  Definitely go exploring but make sure you always swim between the flags.  This is not a joke!  These beaches have big waves, strong undertows and rips that will have you half way out to sea before you even realise.  People drown out here on a regular basis every summer so it's really not worth the risk.  Okay warning aside, here are some of my favourite spots...
Piha:  Piha is definitely the most popular west coast beach, and with good reason!  It has an amazing beach that stretches on forever.  Down on the far right hand side you will come across a tall black sand dune, and around it are some great little caves to explore.  In summer the main part of the beach is crowded with surfers, surf competitions and families.  There is a newly opened cafe just a short walk up the road which has amazing food (but I will talk about that in a separate post).  MUST TRY the hand cut potato chips from the little food place right by the beach.

Whatipu: This place is extra wild and rugged.  It's not so much a beach for beaching on because it is quite exposed and the water is unsupervised, so dangerous for swimming.  However what you do have to check out are the caves.  They are HUGE and in the 1800's when the early settlers came to New Zealand they would hold grand balls and dances in here.

Karekare: You'll probably recognise this place if you went to it, because a little movie that kiwi's are very proud of called 'The Piano' was filmed here.  As with the other beaches it is crazy and wild, and absolutely breath taking!

Bethells Lake: I only went here for the first time a few weeks ago for this shoot.  Wow I fell in love with it in an instant.  A vast black sand desert for as long as the eye can see, and then all of a sudden you reach a big secluded lake.  Apparentely in summer people flock here in their dozens but usually you just hear whispers about it like a well kept secret. 

There are honestly so many more stunning spots out there but I don't want to go on writing forever!  I really urge you to go on a small adventure and check it out though!  This place also attracts the most fantastic locals.  Artists, musicians, surfers and recluses have all settled to call the west coast home.  They are amazingly friendly and helpful, they are also very protective of this beautiful coast so be respective and try not to piss them off!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the insider tips. We visited Piha on our last trip. I do LOVE that cafe with the interesting toilets & the light bulbs hanging down in jars...I think it's opposite the little post office? They had the best croissants when I was there. I would definitely return there again.