Muriwai Beach is breathtaking. It is, in my opinion, one of Auckland's best places for engagement pictures. It's in West Auckland, which is, in my opinion, Auckland's most beautiful area. It is the photoshoot locations Auckland location of one of my favourite photographs. In 2017, the first picture below won the world's best engagement photo award (for more on this, see this page). It also has some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. If you're fortunate enough to have a sunny day, you'll be able to see the sun set below the horizon! Muriwai also has a gannet colony, which means that birds are constantly flying overhead (you might even get some in your photos!). It has fascinating rock formations, gleaming black sand, and depending on the tide, we may be able to slip into the cave for some dramatic portraits. The cave is not open if the tide is too high, so find this out ahead of time. The light is brightest at sunset, but the beach is usually crowded with visitors and members of the public. This has never been a problem for me because the beach is very broad and people are usually courteous.
Maori Bay is also situated on Auckland's West Coast. It's also one of Auckland's most famous places for engagement pictures. I'll confess that I'm a little biassed towards this area of Auckland, but it's truly breathtaking! Although it is close to Muriwai Beach, the photos it provides can be very different. Since you are directly below the gannet colony at Maori Bay, you should be able to get birds flying into the background of your images. It, too, is a black sand beach, but it is much smaller and less crowded than Muriwai Beach. It has a cave that, in my opinion, is superior to the cave at Muriwai Beach because of its size and the fact that it has two entrances. This means there are many photo opportunities in beautiful light. Maori Bay is significantly more difficult to reach than Muriwai. The beach is lower than the parking lot, and you must step over some rocks to reach it. Wearing heels is not a good idea.
My favourite waterfall in Auckland for engagement images is Karekare Falls in the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland. It's not just mostly tourist-free (at least it has been every time I've been there), but it's also really close to the highway. I'm talking about a 2 minute stroll, at most. Karekare Falls is the waterfall for you if you don't like hiking. In my experience, most waterfalls in New Zealand need at least some hiking, so this waterfall is at the top of my list for accessibility! It has a lovely waterfall in the background (who doesn't love a waterfall in their engagement photos?) as well as some lush green trees. Karekare Beach is also within walking distance (which is also on this list, further down). I'll give you a heads up: there are eels in that water. They don't seem to bite, however. Kitekite Falls could be a better choice for you if you don't like eels.
Piha Beach is a black sand beach on Auckland's West Coast that is known for its rough seas (I wouldn't swim there, to be honest) and people needing to be saved from said rough seas (I'm really selling it here, aren't I?). There's also a show called Piha Rescue that's dedicated to it. When we do an engagement shoot, we aren't swimming there, so it's perfect! This huge rock covered in greenery is one of Piha's most beautiful features. There are several smaller rocks as well. Again, I don't feel like I'm selling this. Rocks in the sea that ought to be saved. I'm thinking of letting the images speak for themselves. The photos below were taken on Piha Beach. The unusual black sand is a real eye-catcher. Piha has beautiful sunsets, so this is the perfect time to visit. Since it is a popular beach, there will be a large number of people – surfers and visitors – strewn about. This should not be an issue due to its size; you could even end up with a surfer in your pictures! On Auckland's West Coast, there's also Kitekite Falls. It's a small little waterfall nestled in the Waitakere Ranges that cascades into a swimming hole. It's a bit of a climb to get there (with some uphill sections), but the water below the waterfall is perfectly safe to swim in, and I can confirm that it's eel-free from my own personal experience.
The best part of hiking to Kitekite Falls (especially in the heat) is jumping into the cool, clear water once you arrive. If you'd like, we can take your engagement pictures in the water – I'm all for it!. The hike should take about 40 minutes to an hour (depending on fitness levels). It isn't the most difficult hike in the country, but it does necessitate some physical activity. To get there and back, I'd budget an additional two hours (on top of shooting time). Often, tourists are likely to be swimming in the ocean, and they prefer to stay for a long time, only to be replaced by more tourists after the initial tourists have left. If you want to stop people in the background of your images, I recommend going at sunrise. The North Shore has some incredible beaches that look nothing like the beaches on the West Coast – it's hard to believe they're even in the same area! Since these beaches are on the East Coast, you can catch a glimpse of the sun at sunrise! The beaches on the North Shore include golden sand, sand-colored rocks, turquoise water, and a view of Rangitoto Volcano. During the summer, they are popular swimming beaches.
Here are some photos from an engagement shoot I did on a beach on the North Shore. We all went into the water (mostly because we could), and it was a blast! The beach in the pictures is a small secret cove that was totally abandoned when we arrived at sunrise. Cheltenham Beach, Narrow Neck Beach, and Takapuna Beach are some of the other beautiful beaches on the North Shore. These beaches are likely to be crowded at sunset, but they are large enough that this should not be a problem. I suggest going at sunrise to stop crowds entirely; you'll also get to see the sun rising over the ocean.
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