Karioitahi Beach

Karioitahi Beach

Karioitahi Beach is a rugged West Coast beach located south-west of Auckland CBD near Waiuku. If you’re someone who loves the outdoors, camping, and a sunrise surf session, Karioitahi ticks all of those boxes in one hit. The black sand also makes for a great drive, as cars are permitted along the coastline.  Beyond camping there are cliff-like dunes rising up from the high tide line that make for fun excursions, with stunning views to be enjoyed. The surf at Karioitahi is not quite as consistent as what it can be further north along the coast, but if you’re driving along the beach there’s no harm in strapping the surfboard to the roof to try your luck at catching a few waves.

Tent Sites

No Restrictions


4WD/Dirt Bike/Foot


SC Toilets/Showers


Freedom Camping

Warming our hands over a fire on the beach cooking snags, and toasting a bit of pizza | @lividaly

37°17′58″S 174°39′48″E

In Detail

Before you head out to Karioitahi Beach, there are a number of pre-checks that you should make sure to complete. Auckland Council have a number of rules for driving on beaches on Auckland’s West Coast. It’s important to ensure that you get a vehicle permit if you’re planning on taking a drive. Normal road rules apply along the beach. To ensure that you don’t end up getting stuck part way and find yourself in need of a tow, remember to drive along the beach on an outgoing tide. You can keep up to date with the tide information and surf information on New Zealand’s Metservice forecast.

The two vehicles with a tarp tied between them, our makeshift accommodation for the night

Getting to Karioitahi Beach

From Auckland take SH1 all the way out to Drury, taking the exit onto SH22. Follow SH22 until it veers left and continues on to Pukekohe Hill. When you reach this point, instead of turning continue straight onto Glenbrook Road and follow this. This will change names a couple of times before you reach the small town of Waiuku. Follow King Street and make a left turn on to Constable Road, which will eventually transition into Karioitahi Road taking you right down to the surf club and the beach. There is also car parking space available here if you don’t wish to get your tyres too sandy.

Karioitahi Beach Weather

A couple of key factors to note about the weather are the direction and strength of the wind. If tarp camping, you’re at the mercy of the elements and will want to set up your campsite and campfire accordingly. Ensure that your fire doesn’t spread and catch on any of your gear by keeping nothing in line with the wind direction. If it is looking like it may rain, make certain to tighten the ropes, and guarantee water will roll off your tarp nicely before jumping into bed. I don’t recommend a rude awakening from pooled water on top of the tarp at 3 am, giving you a shock to the system with an extremely early wake-up alarm – learn from my mistakes.

Evening Fire & Camping on Karioitahi Beach

Fires in the outdoors are banned in many places around the country due to the damage they can potentially cause to their surrounding environment. Fortunately, although it is not explicitly stated, it is permissible to have a small beach fire at Karioitahi Beach. The time of year and the weather will also play their part in the restrictions in place around the area. To keep in the know, ensure you check out Fire & Emergency New Zealand’s Can I light a Fire? tool which will confirm whether it’s alright to light. Kick out your fire and make sure it is well out and covered, leaving no trace the following morning when you leave your campsite. No one enjoys stumbling upon other peoples’ mess. It sucks. Do your part and clean up to keep our beaches clean and beautiful.

Top: The crew sitting around the fire enjoying it’s warmth as the night sets in | @lividaly
Bottom Left: From behind the can Sihobán enjoying the warmth as others shift about |@lividaly
Bottom Right:
Nathan (the Author) enjoying the warmth of the fire with the light of the lantern burning bright | @lividaly

Karioitahi Beach

Lining Karioitahi Beach and sculpting your horizon backdrop are sand cliffs. Some are bigger than others, and some are much easier to climb than others. Either way, parking yourself up right in front of one of these cliffs for the night is one of the best spots to catch sunset and sunrise. During our stay at Karioitahi we set up two tarps (one above the truck and a groundsheet) and then lay out sleeping mats and inflatable mattresses for insulation between us and the ground – makes for quite a cosy crowd. Large pieces of driftwood can be found dotted about the beach, which could be towed and used as a weight for holding down a tarp tent.

Top Left: A truck driving in during the early hours of the morning finding itself a camp spot
Top Right:
Carved out sand cliffs and castles. One of the best spots to sit back enjoy the morning sunrise in the comfort of your bag
Bottom Left:
Sitting out on a piece of drift log in the middle of the black sand beach
Bottom Right:
A couple surfers catching some waves that were pumping off the next morning at Karioitahi

Sections of the cliffs have eroded where the beach transitions into farmland, providing some incredible exploration grounds. Depending on where you park up, some points will be easier to access than others. Each of the formations are unique in their own way. Take your sleeping bag, a pot of coffee (or hot chocolate) up to where the grass meets the eroding cliff. The perfect spot to hang out with your friends, enjoy the view, and relax for a little while. What more could you ask for?

Issaac, Sihobán and Liv sitting up the hill from the beach in their sleeping bags after a patchy nights sleep