I love the volcanic black sand at Muriwai Beach, but it doesn’t love my bare feet. Sprinting to the water’s edge with my surfboard under arm is a two-stage process.
The sand gets hot from the sun, so I need to stop half way, throw down my towel and stand on it to let my soles cool off. I swear the water sizzles when I make it to the shallows.
I’m on a surf strike mission to Muriwai. The surf reports say a fun three- to four-foot swell will pulse all weekend, so I’m off work early and on the road.
After the 45-minute drive from Auckland I head straight to the beach, check the surf from the car park at the south end and get psyched on all the possibilities of where to paddle out.
From two to eight feet, Muriwai Beach offers up a fun wave. Surfing near the headland always pays off, so I head out along an exposed rock platform with a cranking left as the sun creeps closer to the setting over the horizon.
The waves peel along perfectly and the view looking to shore from the water makes me feel lost in my own world. The landscape is fierce and rugged; cliffs and rocky ledges to the south and windswept sand dunes as far as the eye can see north.
I set up my tent at Muriwai Beach Motor Camp and look forward to sunrise. There’s not much better than waking at dawn and walking 30 seconds from the tent, through the sand dunes and to the beach.
On the right swell (west and south-west) waves are hollow and powerful up to 300 metres long. I hunt for these at first light by checking north up the beach then south around the headland.
Staying in Auckland? City Scoop: Auckland
Love to golf? Fairways To Heaven
Maori Bay is a five-minute walk south and offers another pumping beach break that funnels waves in perfectly. I paddle out with a friend – he rides a longboard and I take out my shortboard.
The conditions are not as fierce as predicted, but it’s clean, with a puff of offshore wind and only one other guy out. The waves are heaven and we both get barrelled on rights. We swap boards and the same thing happens; this is unheard of and we agree there must be magic in the volcanic sands.
As an added bonus there is a Gannet breeding colony on the point overlooking the waves. From August to March I make as many trips to Muriwai as possible to see hundreds of these captivating-to-watch birds launching into flight, diving into the ocean and returning to feed their fluffy, newly hatched young.
My post-surf ritual is a coffee and lunch of locally-caught fish at Sand Dunz Beach Cafe. Order the tarakihi fish, it’s super fresh and fried in a light batter.
The cafe is just across the road from Muriwai Surf School, so I head over there to say hello to the surf instructors … and contemplate quitting my job to join them to spend all my days on the incredible Muriwai Beach.