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Auckland's big back yard: The wild wild West

At first glance, Auckland may appear to fit the urban mold of skyscrapers, gridlocks and commercialism. Suited and booted and with foodies lurking around every corner, Auckland isn't void of stereotypical metropolitan norms, but it does offer something that not all cities can: shades on shades of outdoor opportunities to explore, within an hour’s drive of New Zealand’s largest city!

Te Henga Walkway, view towards Bethell's Beach.
Halsey Ward

A prime example and the first in this series, the wild West Coast is known for its untamable surf and rigid shorelines. Where the sun sets over the Tasman Sea and violent waves crash into the shores iconic, black sands, you’ll find a strip of beaches, the majestic Waitakere Ranges and hours of bike rides, walks, hikes and picnics to be had.

Not for the fainthearted surfer, but Piha and Muriwai offer some of the country’s’ most consistent surf. Demanding of your attention, whether participating or merely spectating, the waves command ones attention and paint a picture- perfect setting for takeaway’s and sunset stalking.

If you’re heading to Muriwai, pack a chilly bin for the day and if you have time to spare, stop off at a local farm to support the fresh and seasonal produce community. The original fresh strawberry ice cream at Phil Greig's Strawberry Gardens is a Kiwi tradition and a simple delicacy during New Zealand’s summer months.

Once you've arrived at Muriwai, take a short walk to view the impressive wide-winged Gannet Colony or, if you fancy a longer hike, experience the Te Henga Walkway, a cliff-hugging trail from Muriwai to Bethell’s Beach with views that’ll stop you dead in your tracks.Perhaps you'd prefer to relish and relax rather than exert your energy. If that's the case, take a plunge and have a paddle in the Tasman Sea, walk along the seemingly endless pitch of beach at low tide and eventually, pick a spot overlooking Maori Bay with enough time to catch the sunset in the distance. Crack open that chilly bin or pick up fish ‘n’ chips at Muriwai's Beach Café, San Dunz. They offer fresh Hoki or Gurnard Filets and ‘hot as’, chunky chips. As the sun descends on this day well spent on Auckland’s West coast, you’ll toast to moments well lived and find yourself and the company you kept to be ‘good as gold’.

Chur bro!