Waikōwhai Bay

The bay that gives the area its name, Waikōhai can be beautiful on the right day. The name Waikōwhai means “Kōwhai trees by the water’s edge” and the valley used to be full of the beautiful flowering trees. There are some sections of the walkway that still feature impressive mature Kōwhai trees but unfortunately down by Waikōwhai Bay most of the trees are relatively young.

This is because of the very short-sighted decision to turn this into a dumpsite in the 1960’s. It’s hard to comprehend the thought process our civic forefathers went through. “We need somewhere to dump all our home furniture, car parts and building material.” “I know just the place Reginald, a beach on the Manukau. Far away from our stately residences on the Waitemata.”

Eventually the tip was closed and covered and replanted, and once again the beach is a nice place to swim, constantly achieving great results on http://www.safeswim.org.nz. This beach is not as tidal as Wattle Bay, but it is still important to give yourself 40 minutes either side of high tide to get the maximum swim time.

To get down to Waikōwhai Bay, park up at the top carpark of Waikōwhai park by the playground and head down the track to the right. Follow the signage to the beach, ensuring you check out the old changing rooms, then try to walk as far along the beach itself to the left as you can, as the ocean floor is nicer down by the point.

Waikōwhai Bay Ranking:


Waikōwhai Bay is surrounded by native bush and is a “twitcher’s delight.” You are almost guaranteed to spot a variety of native birds, from Kōtare, Petrels, Tui, Oystercatchers to Kereru. The view out to Puketutu and Mangere mountain is great on a nice day. However, the built infrastructure drags this place down. Broken chairs, unsightly pipes and overgrown gardens.



The water can be quite murky here, especially on an outgoing tide and there is an unsightly pipe on the beach itself. Apparently this is just a stormwater pipe but it definitely doesn’t add to the natural beauty of the area. This is a bay that needs some love and will hopefully be getting it soon.



A five minute walk from the carpark, or a 20 minute one from the bus stop on Hillsborough Rd.



Not a lot going on here. A missing bench seat and a rubbish bin. The historical changing rooms make it a bit more interesting than others around.


The ‘feel’

The walk down to Waikōwhai Bay is nice, and if you can get to the far end it is a nice spot to enjoy the incoming tide. However, it is not the greatest spot by a long way and needs a lot of TLC to get up to scratch.


Total score:


Now that I’ve added it up, the score seems a bit harsh. The bay is a nice enough spot, but there are better bays close by. However, if Faulkner is packed, pop over here. It’s fine.

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