A stunning summer sunset at Karioitahi Beach black sand beach. Photo: Peter Barclay


Google describes a windy black sand beach with activities but Karioitahi is much more than just a black sand beach. And yes, there are activities, but this is also a place of peace and well worth visiting even if walking is the only activity you have in mind.

Taking a camera with you makes it even more memorable.

I know places like Piha are much more popular but, as black sand beaches go, this place gets my vote. I also have a love for places like English Bay in the Bay of Islands. That spot is entirely different to Karioitahi Beach because here, it’s like the beach never stops.

If you’re a camera clicker like me a good time to arrive is about two hours before sunset after a really hot day. And don’t despair if a small amount of cloud cover rolls in from the west. It will only enhance the mood.

You need to arrive at least two hours before sunset because, while this black sand beach might be your intended destination, the journey in also offers some jaw dropping picture opportunities.

Karioitahi beach is located about 20 minutes’ drive from Waiuku.

The trip there takes you through some idyllic rural New Zealand countryside and if landscape photography is your thing then here lies a huge selection of potentially great shots.

Black sand sizzled

The range of opportunities is always affected by the time of year and the weather on the day of course. The shots showing here were taken on Auckland Anniversary Day. They were taken at the peak of an historically hot summer when the black sand sizzled.

It was early in the evening and most of the day crowd had gone but I was just in time to see that lazy, hazy effect settle in as people packed up and began to drive their cars off the sand.

The colour array was stunning. Rarely do you get just the right combination of distant cloud cover clearly separating the various hues. The result is a kind of weird almost two-dimensional effect. Like looking through a shoebox peephole.

On a more general note, if you’ve been to this beach then make sure you add it to your bucket list.

Much less developed than Piha this place still reflects the best of what us Kiwis like about a beach – miles of nothing! A place where you can just roam and forget everything that ever bothered you.

But there’s plenty of action for those that want it too.

Paragliding is a common sight. You can also take a land yacht and head left down towards Port Waikato or head north to Manukau Heads.

Cars are a common site on the beach. There is a solid sand base and plenty of expanse but even so, it still pays to be aware of the tide times and how you drive.