Much of it comprises the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, which includes 16,000 acres of native rain forest, rocky coastlines, black sand beaches and 250 of walking and tramping tracks.
This beach is 50km long and popular with surfers. At the end of the beach wooden steps lead up the cliff past blowholes and sea-caves to the gannet colony. There is a good camping ground close to the beach that can be busy in summer.
Te Henga (Bethells Beach)
An even wilder place with a hinterland formed by thick swamps and high dunes, this is a walkers’ beach not a swimmers’ as there is little shade and the ocean is unfriendly. My favourite is to Lake Wainamu across towering sand dunes.
Te Henga road leads to Kauri Park where there are more walks among the giants of the forest and motorhomes are welcome to park overnight in the car park (for a $10 fee).
The least tame of all the west coast beaches. If you want to get to this dramatic bit of coast you have to be keen. It’s not a motorhoming paradise as the road to get there is winding with blind corners and there’s not much parking when you arrive. The route down to the beach is step and lung-taxing on the way back up. None- the-less it is a wonderful part of the coastline.
It’s more motorhome-friendly here although the road in is steep and winding and in parts a bit hair-raising. A notice at the start of the drive warns vehicles over 3.2 metres in height not to proceed.
From the car park you have to ford a stream and climb through a band of sand hills to get to the beach. For all that it is a bold and moody environment that, if you want to get quit of a few cobwebs, makes for great walking.
The road through Little Huia and on to the great reaches of Whatipu Beach at the entrance of Manakau Harbour is narrow and windy and when you reach the parking area it is still a long trek through the sand dunes to get to the wide, black sand beach. Swirling tides and a relentless westerly wind rule change the shape of the beach from year to year.
But the spectacular caves at one end remain the same. There is a camp ground for small to medium sized CSC motorhomes near the Whatipu Lodge. I’m not sure I would like to tow a caravan along that road.
For the latest reviews, subscribe to Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations magazine here.