South Auckland… it’s not often the first pick for an idyllic holiday in New Zealand.
Yet, perched on the back doorstep of New Zealand’s largest city, there’s a world I’ve never experienced.
Thanks to my dads affinity with our Nation’s history and its events, my mum, my brother Ben, my partner Alex, and I, found ourselves on a short adventure on the outskirts of NZ’s supercity.
Before heading to our accommodation, we stopped for lunch at Nick’s Cafe in Waiuku. Famous for their pulled beef & pork brisket that smokes for over 10 hours in a Texan Double-Chamber smoker at the cafe, the food was an epic start to our short getaway.
We eventually set up base at Castaways, our accommodation was perched on the edge of Karioitahi Beach. Windswept and rugged, the place is breathtaking. Leaning against the wind, arms out and laughing, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the place.
South Auckland is awesome!
Making the most of the weather, we spent a few hours attempting to manoeuvre blowkarts in a figure 8 shape. I’d love to say I was a natural, but after two barrel rolls and innumerable push starts, I was a little slow to take off. Watching dad cruise around the bends was fantastic, the man actually was a natural.
Wednesday evening was a first for feeds. We ate at the onsite restaurant, Agave and experienced the Stonegrill Menu, where there’s no chance of blaming the chef! The Surf and Turf was our best pick for the evening, the raw steak and seafood comes ready for you to cook to your own preference on top of a hot stone- which is over 400Degrees!
Thursday morning started with a quick chat on what we’d do for the day.
30 minutes later, the five of us piled in to two cars bound for Awhitu Conservation Area and the Manukau Heads Lighthouse.
While there was zero chance we’d see a Moa stalking the dunes, the Manukau lighthouse, standing at 240m above sea level, gave us an epic view of the Waitakere Ranges, Onehunga and the wild Manukau Bar. The bar, New Zealand’s second largest, was incredible. With a narrow entry between the heads and relatively shallow bottom, entry to the Manukau Harbour is hectic. Huge tidal flows and aggressive changes in the conditions resulted in New Zealand’s most tragic shipwreck ever, the Orpheus Disaster. It was a somber addition to our trip, knowing that over 250 lives had been lost to the tumbling seas below us.
Standing on top of the hill was wild. In the hour we visited the lighthouse we saw sun, rain and were hammered by wind. At only 83km/h, it was hard to believe that winds gust up over 200km/h there- over double what we experienced!
While a few creative words and short videos can attempt to describe what it’s like to visit this place, nothing compares to the real thing. The wind-whipped sea, bush, lighthouse and facts that dot the location are genuinely special.
Here’s a few fast tips if you’re planning to adventure out to the wild South-West…
1. Pack a lunch; the view is stunning and a sandwich in actually makes the experience exceptional.
2. Put your phone away after the snaps are taken; the wild is hard to capture inside a small square. Breathe that fresh air, read about the history and enjoy the experience
3. Don’t forget your coins! Donations are the reason we can enjoy the light house and keep the facilities beautiful for the next group of visitors (and get out of the flash downpours that frequent the West Coast)