Lighthouses & private beaches – why we love Awhitu Peninsula


I blame it on growing up on the Whangaparoa Peninsula but I have a penchant for peninsulas.  You’re almost always guaranteed a beautiful view with water around both sides of the peninsula. And they almost always have some amazing hidden spots to explore.  Awhitu Peninsula I’m happy to say didn’t disappoint on any of these fronts.

We’d just bought a new car and of course the first thing you do when you get a new car is take it on a road trip!  James and I sat down and pondered the benefits of heading north, east, south or west. Then James mentioned he’d never gone out further than Waiuku.  So we grabbed a map and looked at what was further than Waiuku.  

I was delighted to see that a whole peninsula stretched out in front of us – full of places to discover.

Manukau Heads Lighthouse

If you like good coffee, lighthouses and stunning views then Manukau Heads is the spot for you.

The drive out to the lighthosue is spectacular – if somewhat windy!

Awhitu Peninsula

Manukau Heads really are a photographers dream. There is the lighthouse and an abundance of churches waiting to be captured at sunset on the western shores.  

Awhitu Peninsula

Arriving at the lighthouse there are the necessities. There are picnic tables, a long drop and not much else.  Which is of course exactly the way it should be.

The lighthouse was first lit in 1874.  The lighthouse was originally lit with paraffin. It underwent some restorations in the 1940’s and by 1944 was powered by electricity.

It has a rich history (which you can read about as you wander around). This includes the almost complete demise of the lighthouse until it was rescued, restored and reopened by plucky locals.

It’s an “easy” 120 stairs up to the light house. I’m just stopping to take a photo not because I’m totally unfit walking up all these stairs!

And is the view worth it?  Well you can be the judge of that but I reckon it is…

With the wild Manukau Harbour crashing down below and the rolling hills surrounding you it’s easy to forget that you are only an hour (ish) out of the city.

Great coffee!

Aside from the view another reason to visit has to be the coffee.  Nestled at the bottom of the hill is Awhitu Coffee Co.  A super cute little caravan which sells ice cream and amazing coffees!  Winning!!

It’s also the perfect spot to get a little bit of local advice on where to head to next from owner and local Emily.

Awhitu Coffee Co

After a long list of criteria for the kids Emily recommended we head off to Awhitu Regional Park and even drew us a map on the back of a napkin of how to get there (which everyone knows is the best type of map ever).

Awhitu Regional Park

We took a wrong turn (how unlike us) at the carpark and ended scrambling down a roughly etched staircase to the beach. 

Awhitu Regional Park

Which was awesome because there were trees dangling in the water which made for awesome swings for the kids.

Awhitu Regional Park

To get across to the beach we had to navigate a little stream (my recent school camp coasteering experience coming  in handy yet again) before we got to a secluded little beach.

Awhitu Regional Park

There was a wharf which would be awesome for jumping off at high tide but we were a little late for that.  Not that it stopped the kids from dangling off it and stretching the limits of the no jumping rule in every way they could.

Far off in the distance was the faint silhouette of the Sky Tower – looking no bigger than a childs toy from this distance.

By the time we left we were the only people on the beach and yet again it hits me how lucky we are to live in a place where we can have a spot like this all to ourselves…

So head out to Awhitu Peninsula. It’s definitely worth exploring…

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