Muriwai's only a forty-minute drive from Auckland City, on the wild west coast. It's a good surfing beach and there's a campground right next to it. It has luxuriously soft black sand, but what makes it special are the breathtaking views of its massive gannet colony.
The gannets can be seen from viewing platforms on the cliff above them. They really are beautiful birds. They're streamlined like arrows with golden heads and electric blue eyes. And there are shedloads of them. It's amazing to watch the couples dancing about their nests, taking it in turns to fly out to sea, dive into the waves and return to feed their chicks. Even if you're not someone who likes bird watching, you'll be entranced by this.
Oh, and we almost forgot to mention the blowhole. It's rather exciting waiting for the water to spurt geyser-like up from the round hole in the flat platform of rock.
If you're travelling around New Zealand, Muriwai Beach is definitely a location for your must-see list. We recommend taking a warm jacket, as it's really windy on the cliff where you watch the gannets and you'll want to linger awhile.