Pink Beach is a remote destination on the east side of Shakespear Park, my favourite Auckland New Zealand regional park. The park offers hours of hiking trails and has three popular beaches with nearby carparks. In contrast to the others, Pink Beach requires a hike along the Tiritiri Track, is accessible only at low tide via a steep flight of stairs, and is one of the lesser-known destinations in the Park. In fact, our New Year’s day family hike was the first time we saw other people on this beach. It’s also the first time we saw seagull chicks.
Why is it called Pink Beach?
After looking at the beach, you are probably wondering why it is called Pink Beach. In truth, the New Zealand Shakespear family named most of the paddocks, fields, and beaches. While many of the names don’t make sense to us today, some, like Pink Beach, have a scientific explanation.
When I wrote about Pink Beach in the past, geologist Bruce Hayward suggested that sand colour is often affected by broken shell bits and barnacles, erosion, and anything else making up the composition of the sand. In Bruce’s latest book, Out of the Ocean, Into the Fire, he also states, “If the shells are dominantly broken barnacle plates, the beach appears pink.”
In the comments section below, he offers a plausible explanation for my non-pink photos. “Maybe when you visited there was more terrigenous yellow/buff sand washed up on the beach than at other times when the shell dominates on the surface.”
(Quotes used with written permission from the author.)
He also shares this image from nearby Omaha Beach, also a “pink beach”.
Baby Seagulls spotted at Pink Beach
There is a fascinating birdlife in Shakespear Park. It has been over five years since the completion of the predator-proof fence and the declaration of the park as an open bird sanctuary. The programme has been so successful that Shakespear Park is now New Zealand’s only mainland home to little spotted kiwi birds. Each visit to Pink Beach brings us new photo opportunities.
This time we heard the seagull call and noticed a second seagull flying overhead before we saw the baby seagulls. We froze in our tracks as not to disturb the fledgelings.
Additional Birds on Pink Beach
New Zealand is currently home to over 170 different types of birds so it’s not surprising that we see interesting birds when we go hiking. We spotted this Oyster Catcher, a common beach bird seen in the park. The orange bill and red eyes give it away, so we didn’t need to use our field guide.
On a prior visit to Pink Beach, we spotted a Pied Shag. Worldwide there are 36 species of shag, and one-third of these are found in New Zealand. While 8 are endemic to New Zealand, the pied shag is originally from Australia. This bird can be identified by his black feet amongst other key characteristics. However, outside of New Zealand, he might be called a cormorant or a pied cormorant.
Coastal Hike from Pink Beach to Te Haruhi Bay
From Pink Beach we had two options, to climb back up the steps and return to the Tiritiri track or to walk along the coast back to Te Haruhi Bay and the campground. Again, this is a low tide option only. We love coastal hikes and were pleased to find some incredible rock formations along the way.
Practical Information on Visiting Pink Beach
- Shakespear Park is at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, about a one-hour drive from Auckland city centre. It is free to enter, with limited vehicle access after dusk.
- Do not bring dogs or other animals if you are entering the open sanctuary that covers the vast majority of the park. Pink Beach and all access to it is within this area.
- The entrance to Pink Beach is off of the Tiritiri Track about a kilometre hike from the trail entrance at the back of Shakespear Regional Park camping ground.
- Vehicle access to the car park is only available for those who have booked a campsite. The closest car parking would be at the campground end of Bruce Harvey Drive, facing Te Haruhi Beach.
- It takes about an hour to hike the foreshore from the beach to the campground. It is safest if started on the outgoing tide. There is one point that is difficult to pass, except on the low tide. On our last hike, we had camera gear and didn’t want to walk through ankle-deep water. A 30-minute wait until the lowest tide of the day avoided this problem.
- Bring binoculars to better enjoy the bird life.
- If you want a more intensive New Zealand bird life experience, visit Tiritiri Matangi Island (visible from Pink Beach).
- There is a ferry that goes out to Tiritiri Matangi Island daily, and optional tours are available. I always take a tour as the volunteer guides are experts at spotting and identifying the birds.
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