For many kiwi families life is a beach in the summertime. Camping at the beach is an institution, as beloved as pavlova, buzzy bees and gumboots, and most find the draw of sun, sea, surf and sand just too hard to resist.

Among Auckland’s northern park beaches, one stands out for me as a place of incomparable beauty and tranquillity. This special place offers a smorgasbord of aquatic pleasures as well as quiet bushwalks in cool nikau palm valleys, wonderful bird life and astounding views.

Tawharanui’s walks provide a fascinating mix of native coastal forest, rolling pasture, regenerating wetlands, pure white sand and wild pebble beaches. The walks range from an easy 30-minute stroll to an energetic three-hour hike and offer land and ocean views on three sides of this elongated peninsula.

The stunning northern coastal waters are a marine sanctuary
Arriving at the main entry gate I’m impressed by the imposing bulk of the 2.5km predator-proof fence that stretches across the base of the peninsula. Built in 2003, the fence has been effective in stopping the marauding rats, cats, stoats, weasels and ferrets that had declared open season on native birds for over 100 years.

Now there are at least 60 reclusive nocturnal kiwis snuggled in burrows out of sight, and a host of equally shy geckos hiding in the scrub.

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