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Manukau Harbour Magic

With 520km of coastline, the Manukau Harbour is New Zealand’s second biggest harbour. It’s also home to many hidden gems which are well worth a visit while summer is still with us.

The Manukau Harbour Forum advocates for, and identifies, projects that will protect and enhance the wellbeing of the harbour and its foreshores.

The forum, made up of members from nine local boards bordering the harbour, recognises it as a significant cultural, ecological, social and economic treasure/taonga.

Here are six spots for you to enjoy:

Huia Regional Park, part of the Waitākere Ranges, incorporates a scenic tidal beach with a children’s playground, a cafe, and the Huia Settler’s Museum. Huia is an ideal part of a day trip that might include Cornwallis Beach, perhaps for a spot of fishing off the wharf, Karamatura Beach, which is an official off-leash dog beach, or walks further afield in the Waitākere Ranges.

French Bay Beach
This pretty beach is popular with families, sailors, paddlers, and swimmers at high tide. It’s still possible to secure a car park by the beach. There are no shops at French Bay, but it is home to the friendly French Bay Yacht Club, which runs a ‘pop up French Cafe’ from time to time. Check the club's website for details. 

At low tide children and walkers will enjoy exploring the foreshores, and walking around to the playground at nearby Titirangi Beach can be a fun, muddy adventure.

Blockhouse Bay Beach Reserve
Blockhouse Bay is a sheltered cove that features a new children’s playground and barbecue area. It’s very popular with local families, and can serve as a starting point for walking tracks that span from Green Bay to Lynfield.

Onehunga Foreshore 
The waterfront was returned to the people of Auckland when 6.8 hectares of Onehunga foreshore was reclaimed in 2015. The project included the development of nine new beaches, three of which are sandy, a boat ramp, walking and cycling tracks, a footbridge, and the planting of 30,000 native plants.

Ambury Farm Park
The perfect day trip within urban limits, either with or without the kids, this working farm is a regional park. It includes open pasture, farm animals, and important seabird habitat. Bring your bike, or comfortable shoes, a picnic lunch, and enjoy the friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

Awhitu Lighthouse
The Manukau Heads Lighthouse is the jewel in the crown for the majestic Awhitu Peninsula, which is approximately an hour’s drive from Auckland’s CBD on the south-west side of the Manukau Harbour.

Close by are the magnetic black sand beaches on the ocean side of the peninsula, and the white sand swimming beaches dotted with pohutukawa trees on the sheltered inner harbour.

Awhitu Regional Farm Park has tent and campervan sites and safe swimming beaches, along with walking, mountain biking and kayak trails.

The Manukau Harbour is a very tidal harbour. Make sure you plan your trip around the tides. The best time to swim is about 90 minutes before and after high tide at most beaches.

  • Its foreshores are home to more than 50,000 birds and it’s also habitat for Maui Dolphin and numerous flora and fauna, so please remember to respect the environment.
  • Boaties can visit Coastguard NZ to find out more about staying safe on the water.

Stay up to date with activities of the Manukau Harbour Forum and to read the Manukau Harbour Messenger newsletter, visit Auckland Council.

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