Pataua is amazing. We went with friends who had been at Christmas and said exactly that – Pataua is amazing. The trouble is that until you actually see it there is no words or photos that can convey just how awesome this place really is so we were lucky in this case that we took them on their word.
In the paragraphs and photos that follow I’m going to try but really – it’s one of those places that you just have to visit. Maybe just don’t share this with too many people all at once….
So let’s get it out of the way first – some beautiful shots of Pataua (not hard to get these – they are everywhere you look)….
Moving on to what you can do at Pataua – great news on two fonts here. 1. There is loads to do. 2. Its all free.
Here are our favourite things to do in Pataca (note – Pataua North and South are connected by a bridge – we started at Pataua South and walked to Pataua North)
Castaway Bay (The Dumping Beach)
The dumping beach is an amazing surf beach at the Pataua Island Scenic Reserve (just by the entrance to the Treasure Island Motor Camp).
There is no vehicle access which is awesome because it makes it safer for our little ones and means that we all enjoy the scenery on the way (and it is worth enjoying).
The dumping beach (named by our friends we stayed with so you won’t find any signs for it along the way) is named for its waves.
It’s a great little surf beach – perfect for body surfing and boogie boarding. The surf can get up though so make sure you check first and stay close to children as our youngest got swept out by a wave and panicked and had to be plucked out.
The Jumping Beach
You can only visit the Jumping Beach at high tide but it is well worth waiting to visit this.
To the eye it looks like a normal part of the estuary but walk more than 10 meters and you will find that the ground drops away under your feet (you go from knee deep to over your head in one step). Now walking is way too boring – jumping is way better and so much fun to do.
To get there head over the foot bridge from Pataua South to Pataua North and keep following the estuary around until you get to the mouth of the estuary.
If you are lucky you may even spot some stingrays like we did.
The Rope Swing
You will find this on your way to or from the Jumping Beach. Again high tide is best but it’s loads of fun no matter what the tide is.
This swing has a huge distance to it but is low enough to make even the most cautious kid (or parent) feel safe as they skim out over the shallow water.
You could spend hours here. Really.
At high tide the beach is lined with trembling kids all trying to pluck up the courage to jump. If they are anything like ours, they will get up and down a fair few times (our 9 year old in particular got up and down more than 10 times before she finally jumped) but once they jump once nothing will stop them.
There’s a strong current at the bottom so make sure you are waiting down below if your children are not strong swimmers.
Okay, so it’s not a real mountain (remember that as you are climbing it) but that’s the local name for it and it has some spectacular views.
I chose to conquer the mountain and capture a sunrise at the same time at about 7am. On account of the tequila consumed the night before (you try camping with great friends and 5 children – the tequila will come out) the climb was a little harder than I like to think it would be normally but there it gave me lots of excuses to get different shots as I made my way up the mountain.
Access is next to Castaway up a narrow track mown into the grass. It winds its way through the long grass (I suspect the architect of this track may also have been drinking some tequila) with lots of flat spots to stop and get some pictures.
You know what they say, if you didn’t take a selfie, it didn’t happen so here is my obligatory selfie at the top of the mountain.
For a day trip or a longer stay Pataua is just 2 and a half hours from Auckland and is well worth a visit.