When it comes to the beaches surrounding Auckland, there are basically two kinds: the white-sand stretches of the Hauraki Gulf that face the city skyline, and the black-sand beaches of Auckland’s West Coast. Bethells Beach belongs to the latter, where tempestuous storms off the Tasman Sea have carved a rugged landscape.
Surfers flock to Bethells Beach (Te Henga)—a vast stretch of sand dotted with cliffs, sand dunes, and caves—for the pounding offshore waves, while fisherman scale the slippery rocks to cast their reels to the sea. An easy day trip from central Auckland, the beach’s close proximity makes it a convenient stop on any West Coast itinerary. Guided tours often combine visits to nearby attractions like Piha beach, Fairy Falls, or coastal wineries.
Things to Know Before You Go
It’s best to bring your own food and drinks, although at times you may be available to grab a coffee or a bite to eat at a cafe or food truck.
Long and flat stretches of sand make this a dog-friendly destination.
Tours tend to cater to private or small groups, and typically last a full day.
Be sure to wear suitable shoes and sunscreen and dress in layers, as wind can pick up suddenly.
How to Get There
Bethells Beach is located 27 miles (43 kilometers) and 40 minutes west of Auckland. The beach lies north of Piha and south of Muriwai Beach. The road can be challenging to navigate on your own, and guided tours often include transportation to take the hassle out of this aspect of trip planning. A parking lot is available, although it is situated away from the beach.
When to Get There
This hidden gem is popular with locals on warm weekends, particularly during the summer, but Bethells is less frequented than nearby Piha. Water temperatures are cooler in spring and winter, but the flat, sandy beach makes for ideal strolling and the sand dunes are great for wave-watching any time of year.
Hiking Trails Near Bethells Beach
Since the currents can sometimes make swimming unsafe, opt instead to swim in Lake Waimanu, which is accessed via a 30-minute hike leading back through the dunes. Other hikes include Te Henga Walkway, which weaves for nearly 5 miles (8 kilometers) north toward Muriwai Beach. From the top of the bluffs, you’ll be met with sweeping views of Bethells Beach below, as well as the Waitakere Ranges that rise behind the coast.
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