The rugged black sand beaches west of Auckland are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I am totally NZ biased, but you will love them, too! The west coast is also known for its stormy seas and strong rips* so aren't always safe for swimming, especially with children.
Lucky there is Lake Wainamu! Just before you reach Bethells beach, you'll find the small carpark for the Lake Wainamu Track. If you follow the loop in a counterclockwise direction, you'll walk through bush, then up and over the moon-like dunes. Ready yourself for an out-of-planet experience. At the top of the dunes, stop for some sand surfing. Bring your boogey boards and lots of leg-lung power to get to the top again. Who needs F45 or HIIT when you can do sand dune reps?
Once you've tired out the kids, continue onto Lake Wainamu and hop in. The lake drops off quite steeply so keep the little ones close by. If your party has energy to spare, continue all the way around the lake, passing Waitohi Falls at about the halfway mark. On the return trip, you can go back the way you came over the sand dunes or follow the Waiti Stream as it zig zags around the foot of the sand dunes. A very refreshing option.
Special thanks to our friends Kara, Gareth, Leo, and Jared for sharing this treasured spot with us! A year was a long time to wait.
Lake Wainamu Loop Track, West Coast of Auckland, New Zealand
Distance: 6km for the full loop
Time: 2 hours
Time and distance will vary depending on how many times you go up and down the sand dunes.
Barefoot: Maybe. The sand can get really hot. I had to run back to the car for my shoes, screeching a little.
*If you don't know what a rip is or how to handle it, ask one of the friendly surf lifesavers on the beach. And always swim between the flags.