Muriwai Beach campground
A bird's-eye view
Off SH 16 at Waimauku, the road to Muriwai winds through the attractive countryside to reach the edge of this 50km-long sea border. Despite the high winds, black sand dunes, and often-raging surf that characterise the beach, it is popular. In the summer holidays, RVs crowd into the campground, which is a sandhill hop from the beach and set on tiered ledges shaded by giant pohutukawa and pine trees. We wait for the crowd to abate and then head there for the odd weekend to catch a bit of close-to-home R and R. Swimming here can be exhilarating, but I’d never take a dip outside the flags due to huge waves and strong currents. At the end of the beach, wooden steps lead up the cliff past a flat fishing rock (dangerous), blowholes, and sea-caves to the gannet (takapu) colony. From August to March, this is a riveting spectacle as these great seabirds mate, nest, hatch their eggs, and bring up their young. Platforms allow humans to get a close-up, bird’s-eye view of all this domesticity without disturbing the birds. I watched with envy as they hovered around me, soaring and swooping on the breeze like feathered drones. In contrast, domestic arrangements back at the campground are currently somewhat disturbed. Auckland Council has completely replaced the tired old amenities with modern ablution blocks and a kitchen built of concrete and timber. Inside they are all gleaming tiles and stainless steel and are already fully functional. The only fault I could see was in the placement of the dump station where the access is difficult for small vehicles and almost impossible for larger ones. But the cry has gone up and apparently a change of location is under way. Landscaping around the new buildings is in progress, and by next summer, Muriwai Beach Campground is going to be one of the smartest in the land. It’s a wonderful improvement. Now, how about the Takapuna campground?