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 other park beaches, 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. (photos below)
Discover more about Shakespear Park …
Why is it called Pink Beach?
You might be wondering why it got its name when it doesn’t look very pink. The New Zealand Shakespear family named most of the paddocks, fields, and beaches in the park. While many of the names don’t make sense to us today, some, like Pink Beach, offer more scientific explanations.
Geologist Bruce Hayward suggests that broken shells and barnacles, erosion, and anything else making up the sand’s composition affect the sand’s colour. Bruce’s latest book, Out of the Ocean, Into the Fire, explains that“if the shells are dominantly broken barnacle plates, the beach appears pink.”
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.”
Baby seagulls spotted at Pink Beach
A protected environment, extensive birdlife thrives in Shakespear Park, including many endangered and threatened species.
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 seagulls squawking (the sound seagulls make) and noticed a second seagull flying in circles overhead before we saw the baby seagulls. We froze in our tracks as not to disturb the fledgeling seagulls.
If you want to know more about New Zealand birds, we use and recommend: New Zealand Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species
Other 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.
We have also spotted a Pied Shag at Pink Beach. It is one of 36 shag species worldwide. One-third of species are in New Zealand, including eight that are endemic to the country. However, the pied shag is originally from Australia. Its black feet, amongst other key characteristics, help to identify him. Other names for this bird are cormorant or pied cormorant.
I took this shot on Pink Beach, which is on the east coast of the North Island. I have also seen shags on the west coast at Muriwai Beach. For more on the shag, check out NZ Birds.com
If you love adorable birds, don’t miss the images we shot on the South Island of the critically endangered yellow-eyed penguins or the giant albatross and little blue penguins.
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 coastal rocks back to Te Haruhi Bay and the campground. Again, this is a low-tide option only. The low tide only coastal hike features 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 at the trailhead is only available for those who have booked a campsite.
- The closest car parking for non-campers would be at the campground end of Bruce Harvey Drive, facing Te Haruhi Beach, thus adding about 5-10 minutes to your hike.
- It takes about an hour to hike the foreshore from Pink beach back 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 birdlife.
If you want a more intensive New Zealand birdlife 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
Check price and availability of the ferry and tour to Tiritiri Matangi Island
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Read Next: 75 Free and Nearly Free Things to Do in Auckland New Zealand
Pink Beach or baby seagulls, which inspires you to take this hike?
More from Auckland you might also like … starting with these 75 free and nearly free things to do in the city
Rowan Sims Travel Photography
You’re making me homesick! Great photos, I love your work. Keep them coming until I get back home to NZ 🙂
You have one as well in Auckland! We have the pink beach near Komodo Island in West Nusa Tenggara..it’s pink because of those broken shells..
Such an interesting coastline. I love the picture of the seagulls. But they can be quite vicious. You were brave to get so close.
Adorable chicks and pink shells aside, the geography around that beach is really cool. Love your photo with the lines running down the cliff and into the sand. Mother Nature turns out some great artworks! Back to the Pink Beach – I think we have a new travel theme to explore. We found a green beach in Hawaii (from the olivine in the sand), and a silver beach in San Diego, there’s a purple beach…and now pink… I wonder what else we can find!
The photos of the beach are so lovey, but I think the baby seagulls are my favorite! I love to see wildlife where it belongs and who doesn’t love seeing a baby!
Handmade Jewelry Haven
I will be 53 this year and have lived in South Florida my entire life and have NEVER seen a baby Seagull. Ever.
Isn’t it amazing that I got to finally see this marvel by reading a blog written half a planet away?
Thank you for this beautiful post.
And I LOVE the rock formations.
I have lived near a beach for the past 30 years, and that was my first time spotting baby seagulls also.
So interesting about the beach changing colors depending on what’s dominant. I loved your pictures and especially the unique cliffside and baby seagulls. There’s so much to explore in your country.
Beautiful! What an awesome place 🙂
wonderful! I am itching to travel!
Interesting geology on that beach
such a beautiful wild, rugged area. the sand does look pink
What an amazing place!
What a wonderful beach, love the nature shots, my fav is the baby seals
We visited a beach in Northern Norway this summer that had reddish sand to it. It was very cool. I love the pink tones here! That pic of the two seagulls warning you not to get too near is way too familiar! My battles seagulls from nesting on the roof of her house on the Oregon Coast and has been screeched at like that more than once! Ha! Thanks for sharing this unique and interesting landscape.
I would imagine have them squawking from my own roof would be much less pleasant than on the beach.
Marvelous! I would so love to see your beautiful country.
Great photos and interesting info! I especially enjoyed seeing those baby seagulls and the last photo is stunning.
That was quite interesting nice photos too sad about the baby gull falling though 🙂
Have a pinkbeachtastic Rhonda week 🙂
What a wonderful place!
Sorry that it wasnt Pink while you guys were there to explore it. I too have been searching Pink in Nature and it can be harder to find than expected depending on other factors. For example there is a place in Canada where a waterfall becomes entire pink but you have to time it right during the spring rains. However a Pink beach would seem easier but I guess you caught it on an off day.
With that said, the birding alone on that secluded beach looks amazing. My dad would love to sit there on Pink Beach and just hear the SeaGull Chicks hollering away.
I would love to see that Pink waterfall someday, and springtime in Canada would be pretty nice.
The pink beach explanation makes sense, but I wouldn’t have thought of it by myself! I’ve seen loads of seagulls, but never the babies. Lovely photos.
Interesting how the color of the sand can change depending on the composition of the sand, but makes perfect sense. Super cool pic of the baby gulls!
That’s interesting and thanks for the scientific way to explain why the Pink Beach is Pink. 🙂 There are so many scenic places in New Zealand and I would love to visit there again very soon! @ knycx.journeying
Christine | The Journey of Christine
Awe the baby seagulls are so cute! You don’t see those guys often it seems like! Maybe one day, Pink Beach will appear pink again? I guess it depends on if the shells wash up on shore? Maybe it should have been called Sometimes Pink Beach lol.
Awesome post and it’s interesting how the beach turns pink based on the barnacle plates. Also, I love the photos especially the ones with the baby seagulls.
I’m very envious of your amazing natural places in NZ. The oyster catching is a beautiful bird, I love the contrast of the red and orange with the black.
I have never seen seagulls chicks. They are so cute. What you explained about the pink beach makes sense. Maybe it will appear “pinker” under different conditions. Some people say pink beaches, like the ones in the Bermudas, exist only because of Photoshop effects. Now, I can see they do exist.
I hadn’t seen seagull chicks before either. They are so fluffy and cute.
Auckland New Zealand regional park sounds fabulous for nature lovers like us. And it would be very cool to visit Pink beach on a day where the sand is more vivid. Omaha Beach looks very pink though! You caught some great shots of birdlife in Shakespear Park, looks like a stunning area!
I never knew it existed but now I know why it reminds me of Tawharanui, the rocks are very much the same.
The photo from Bruce Hayward is from Omaha Beach, which isn’t too far from Tawharanui.
Jenn and Ed Coleman
I loved seeing Mr Hayward’s comment on your blog. That must be quite a thrill having a published scholar researching your work. Did he borrow a picture of yours to demonstrate when the beach wasn’t pink?
We have to get a better telephoto lens. Those pictures of fledgling sea gulls were just too cute.
I can definitely see a little pinkish tint in the sand on Pink Beach. I love the rock formations and your photos of the Seagull chicks are extraordinary.
So fascinating to hear that pink beaches are often pink because of broken barnacle plates…this also makes me think about what makes beaches with other colors of sand be that color…like purple!
New Zealand continues to amaze – Pink Beach and gull chicks. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen gull chicks in person – or even in photos. How unique. I think this would be one of my favorite spots in Auckland. And I’ve been to the purple sand beach in California – the purple comes from the manganese garnet rocks in the cliffs. I’m learning so much about beaches colors.:)
Paul F. Pietrangelo
A Very interesting place Rhonda. I wondered, did that baby gull, the one that fell, was it OK? See ya my friend.
We kept our distance, but it looked the same as the others, just on a lower cliff shelf.
What a beautiful place! I love the photos of the baby seagulls – the are so fluffy and cute. Great idea to carry with you a bird identifying book, we really should do that!
Wow what an interesting beach! A shame it wasn’t so pink when you went! Would be cool to see pink sand!
Pink beach or not, your photos are beautiful of this area! They have lines in sand and rock that carry you out into the distance. Wonderful job!
I really like that you have to hike and take steps down to get to this beach, keeps it more isolated and not overrun with people. Also that dogs are not allowed and that there is some fencing to keep other animals away so the kiwis and other native birds and their young have a chance at survival. New Zealand’s natural landscapes never fail to be impressive.
How curious. Whatever the name, it is a beautiful beach! Your wide angle shots are especially appealing.
That information from Bruce about the sand is really interesting. And that picture from Omaha Beach is a bit mind-blowing. I’ve never seen a pink beach before. You were so lucky to see those little seagull chicks as well! They remind me of little fluffy ducklings before they lose that down stuff.
This is the first time I have seen gull chicks in my life Rhonda. Neat! I have seen the adults quite a bit all over the world as they are dominant at beach scenes, especially here in New Jersey. As for the pink beach I’ve seen this effect in more than a few spots, as shell fragments color the beach. Really looking forward to our Opotiki house sit in mid March. Just landed it this week, and I cannot wait to see some world class beaches there.
Looks like a magnificant place to spend a day. I love the little baby birds.
Shakespear Park seems like a wonderful place to spend a day. I was sure that Pink Beach must have gotten its name from the pink color of the sand. Then, reading further, I came across your explanation about the broken shells. Those seagull chicks are so cute!
Looks like a beautiful spot even though the beach wasn’t pink. I am sure those cute seagull chicks made up for it though. NZ has so much natural beauty.
What a gorgeous place! I love those rock formations!
Just came across your post as I was searching for records of pink beaches in Northland/Auckland as I am writing a section of my new book on the colour of beach sands and know of the pink beaches and have a photo of the pink shell sand on this beach from 2005 that I intend to include. The pink colour is from the broken shells of subtidal barnacles that dominate the shell component on the beach at times. I have a photo I can send you. There is another Pink Beach up near Matauri Bay … Maybe when you visited there was more terrigeneous yellow/buff sand washed up on the beach than at other times when the shell dominates on the surface.
The folded rocks in the cliffs and foreshore are early Miocene sedimentary strata that were crumpled up as they slid down the submarine slopes of a deep marine basin about 20 myrs ago.
N J Magas
I was going to say, “it looks rather green to me.” Still pretty, though.
If you have to be grounded, at least your in a beautiful place.
But I don’t agree with my spelling. Yikes.
It is a beautiful beach. I too am curious why it is called Pink Beach. It has such a rugged type of beauty.
So unusual name. Great series. So glad for this virtual tour.
I used to play football as a kid with a boy named David Pink. Maybe it’s a last-name thing.
That driftwood is all kinds of wicked cool.
I thought, “Well that’s a funny name for a beach!”
Maybe my eyes are fuzzy from staring at the computer screen for too long, but I see pink in the sand of the beach. Maybe not bubble-gum pink — more of a watery salmon color, but it’s still nice.
I can’t imagine why a bird sanctuary needs an electric fence. Are there a lot of bird-nappers in NZ? Or perhaps it’s to keep out things that would eat birds, like …. um …. got nothing. It’s not like there are tigers or cougars or giant boas there.
I was wondering the same thing on that one photo, but I can assure you standing there, it is not pink.
As for the electric fence, it is around the cow paddock, I think to keep the cows in. The bird sanctuary is the island we see in the background. And that would not have any electric fences. Sorry for the confusion.
Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)
I was also looking for something pink haha! Pretty place to visit.
also, I love the volcanic rock formations from the lava flow especially the one you can see that kind of forms a drop in a puddle pattern.
There a quite a few beaches around auckland etc called pink beach and my suspicion is that this is from the days when those who wanted to nude sunbath found a beach out of reach and away from the general public. (Pink probably refers to the skin)Anyway that’s what I think.
LOL – This never occurred to me. Pink Beach in Shakespear sure is out of the way from the general public. Now I am curious if it used to be a nude beach.
💗 lovely pics! Have a nice week! Xxx
My guess is that it changes hue with a sunrise/sunset.
More tour (and more colors, just not pink) coming soon as we walk from Pink Beach along the coastal rocks to get back to the campground.
Maybe it is Pink at different time of the day? or season, maybe? Like in China, there’s this red beach which, accdg to some articles, is at its best when visited during a particular season. 🙂
A red beach would be an interesting site. Actually, there is a beach with that name not to far from here – in the town I went to the dentist this morning. I wonder if it’s red. I will have to check that one out too.
Yes, it is definitely beautiful. I wonder also why it’s pink!?!
I am curious enough to go back at sunset when it gets warmer, maybe even an early morning sunrise walk.
Very beautiful beach and photos. New Zealand is definitely calling to me.
So many amazing things to see in New Zealand. Now that my travel focus is local, I am surprised how many cool spots I never knew were there.
Well it is a beautiful beach…
I like them both. I too wonder how it got its name though. It sure isn’t pink.
Have a fabulous day Rhonda. 🙂
Lovely beach, but yes, it’s odd why it’s called Pink Beach.
Hello, the name does seem odd. The scenery is gorgeous, I love any beach. Have a happy day!
Sunrise or sunset hues may turn it pink? Lovely nonetheless. Looking forward to more of your beach travels.
Once the weather warms up a bit I think I will watch for a low tide closer to sunset and see what it looks like. I am super curious now, but the temperature really drops in the evenings in winter.
I hope you get to see a pink beach!
Alex J. Cavanaugh
It’s a nice looking beach, but odd it’s called Pink Beach. There were no signs to explain why?
The beach really looks pink in the sunset. Really interesting.
Hi Rhonda – well done for deciding your pink beach needed to be real! It is described as such .. so presumably at certain times the colours are right for a pink hue …
We had a red beach in Cornwall .. but it was from the mine workings that leached onto the beach and into the waters … it also coloured the shells pink … perhaps that could do with the colouration.
Loved the story and what a glorious place to get to … cheers Hilary