Top 5 Family Activities in Muriwai Beach (local knowledge)
Muriwai Beach was a great place to grow up. There was plenty of trees to climb, caves to explore, sand to dig-in, and no shortage of playmates. Recently we moved back to Muriwai to raise our young family. It has changed a lot over the years, and the city feels a lot closer now, but there’s still plenty of great adventures to be had.
1. The Gannet Loop
Gannets are special. They are large hunting sea-birds who huddle on the edges of the steepest and most exposed cliff-tops. Muriwai is one of only three places in Aotearoa that Gannets are found nesting on the mainland.
The gannet loop is first on the list because its a great place to take in the best of Muriwai. Raw ocean, wild wind, heavy waves, and wilderness.
The loop walk starts at the south end of Muriwai beach and winds up along the cliff to three incredible viewing platforms of the Muriwai Gannet Colony. It then passes by Maukatia Bay, cuts back through the bush, and finishes back at the muriwai beach carpark.
You can do the whole thing in around 30min, but if you’ve got young kids give it 2hours. There is just so much fun to be had along the way! The path was recently upgraded so it’s a pretty easy walk for the most part, although it can get a little slippery when you’re cutting back through to the playground.
Best go in summer to sea the gannets nesting, but any time of year is good for an adventure.
Local tip: Time it so that you can grab an ice-cream from Sand Dunz cafe after the walk, then enjoy it at the local playground.
2. Playing in the Wild West Coast Waves
As you might know, swimming on the west coast of Auckland is not like swimming in most places. Its a battle, or even a dance, with surging white water and powerful waves. Kids who are prize swimmers at the school pool will scream with terror and delight before they even get their toes wet.
There’s usually heaps of beach to laze about on, dig holes and build sandcastles. The black sand isn’t for everyone (and you’ll never get it out of your car), but it warms up pretty good in the sun, and keeps the crowds down.
Local tip: Watch out for burnt feet in summer and always swim between the flags. The safest time to swim is usually around mid-tide coming in, but conditions change quickly, so stay alert.
3. Learn to Surf at the Muriwai Surf School
Only a surfer knows the feeling. If you are one... congratulations. If you'r not one... make sure you give it a go.
Learning to surf is harder than riding a bike, but it is a lot easier than brain surgery. There’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to stand up on a board, although both can be fun. If you manage to ride a wave, you’ll never forget it.
The great thing about kids is that there is no wrong way for them. They are light and flexible enough to do it any which way without sinking a rail and wiping out. This is great for little brothers and sisters who want revenge on their siblings, because the smaller one will almost always be better (works with mums and dads too).
Make sure you learn on the right equipment, with someone who knows the local conditions well. We highly recommend the good family that run Muriwai Surf School. I can almost guarantee they’ll get you on your feet... the rest is up to you.
Local tip: Ask for Dylan (the friendly giant), if you’re having trouble standing up on your own he’ll lift you on and hold your hand.
4. Skate Park and Pump Track
Thanks to some generous local families and a bit of help from the Muriwai Community Association, Muriwai Beach now sports a pump track and skate park.
There is something for all ages and stages at pump track, making it a new favourite hangout for the local families. For skaters and scooter enthusiasts, there is a small array of rails, box’s and jumps, and their is also a mini-half-pipe for the more experienced dodger.
The pump track has two parallel runs, one for parents and big kids, and one for the younger riders fresh out of training wheels.
We find Its a great place to hang with the family if the beach is looking a bit cold and windy.
Local tip: If your kids are old enough to entertain themselves, bring your tennis racket and have a hit at the adjacent tennis courts while you wait. Gold coin donation only.
5. Muriwai Beach Playground
The Muriwai Beach Playground was upgraded in 2019, and sports some pretty cool accessories. It now has a little mini-ground area suitable for 2-4s, and some more challenging equipment for the older kids. It’s spacious, and set on a small park with picnic tables, and plenty of bench seating.
Probably the oldest and best feature is the swings. They nailed the height when designing those, and luckily they survived the renovation. They are suitably high, and kids love them.
Local tip: If you’re looking for a bit more space for ball sports, there’s a great little field across the road near the main beach car-park.
Author: Rowan Aish is a father, family support worker, local surfer at Muriwai, and co-founder of Parent Village.