Auckland New Zealand West Coast beaches virtual tour - Accommodation and hotel booking, NZ tourism, travel, vacation and holiday information.

Auckland Beaches: The Wild West

Waitakere Ranges: Lush bush lines the route to the beaches - Gerri Eller/NZ.Com 1998

The western coast is raw, wild and magnificent.

Volcanic cliffs tower above glistening ironsand, and the rough Tasman Sea swells and crashes onto sweeping shorelines.

The green Waitakere Ranges rise steeply away from the beaches, and the only way in and out is along the narrow roads that wind down through the hills.

A backdrop for heroes if ever there was one - this is the domain of legendary Maori, stars of television myth, and some more tangible figures of valour as well.

For all that, it is a fragile place.

The lush bush is still young, regenerating after the milling of the great kauri forests last century. Birds, penguins and fur seals live metres from human stomping grounds, shellfish stocks are vulnerable; even the sand dunes are delicate.

The west coast lies only an hour from the heart of the Auckland metropolis: and with the escape it offers comes the inevitable challenge to preserve it.

A caution: These beaches are inviting but rough. Be careful in the water and on the rocks - see The Rules.

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