I'm a freelance writer from Auckland, currently travelling across the UK with my family. I'm here to share adventures for kids and adults who enjoy food, culture and a kiwi perspective on travelling around the British Isles. Visit rochellesewell.com
Birds Beach is a quiet place. Even in the height of summer. There's one house that hosts the offspring of the owner. In fact, it hosts offspring of offspring of the owner. Needless to say there's a large family who like to party in the blue house. But the majority of the 40 or so properties in the settlement are holiday retreats owned by old families, with just one permanent family in residence.
The famous words "ahh the serenity" spring to mind when you sit on the grassy lawn hugging the bay. A dusty road divides the utterly authentic 1950's batches from the beach. A series of pohutukawa with uniformly shaped round heads of green foliage line the edge of the lawn, marking the start of the sand. You can even hear the sparrows sing and the humming of bees is everywhere in summer.
The beach is tidal, allowing for safe wading in the water, an hour either side of tide. It's also a wonderful spot for pulling out a kayak, paddleboard, or small tender with an outboard motor. The fishing here is legendary and the locals pulled in Kahawai, Gurnard and Snapper on the day we arrived. But for much of the day the wet sand is exposed, glistening in the sunlight and hosting families of endangered New Zealand birds, including the very rare Fairy Turn. For a bird spotter, this is paradise.
Enjoy a walk along the beach and you'll discover a river, which flows inland to the south of the settlement. This is mangrove forest territory so the water is clean. Yet another place to explore on a kayak while quietly dropping a hand line in the water. You won't find footpaths here but bring along your mountain bikes and there's plenty of terrain to explore. There's also a number of wonderful walking tracks in the nearby Aitu Regional Park and the Tapora Golf course is on the enthusiast's bucket-list.
Birds Beach is approximately 100km (1.5 hours) north of Auckland. The nearest settlement is Tapora, where you'll find little more than the local school and the golf course, so you'll need to travel to Wellsford for supplies, some 40 mins drive away. It sits north of the Auckland Regional Boundary and views across the Kaipara Harbour look beyond North Head and through the gap toward Dargaville. For a car journey out of Auckland allow for a good hour and a half of driving, accessed from either the North Shore or North-western motorways. Be prepared for a stretch of unsealed road, but a careful journey in non 4-wheel drive is perfectly safe.
We stayed with friends in one of the many holiday batches. If we'd looked online we'd have found other options nearby on Bookabatch. Our children, aged 4 and 6, we're able to roam freely like we did as children. A return to old Aotearoa if you like, but still within respectable distance of Auckland and popular urban attractions at Matakana Township and Omaha Beach. The internet access is patchy but most cell phone networks can be connected. In any case, it's a great place to unplug.
For a weekend of old school simplicity, Birds Beach is a wonderful spot. Take it back to basics, or indulge in a passion for fishing or bird watching. The shallow bay and gentle wind make it worth the journey for kite surfers too. Enjoy the serenity.