Karekare Beach

Karekare Beach New Zealand – Home Of Peace

Karekare Beach lies at a stone’s throw from the largest city of New Zealand, Auckland where 1.6 million people live. However, as you get away from the busy streets, and head towards west, the traffic thins out fast and after about 40 minutes you find yourself in one of the most heavenly beaches in New Zealand.

karekare beach new zealand
Sunset on the empty Karekare Beach with driftwood in calm water and rock amongst roaring waves.

Karekare Beach Facts

This place is ideal for picnics, surfing, sunbathing, beach and bush walks, horse riding, kite-flying, photographing, or even meditation.

Let’s see some facts about Karekare Beach New Zealand:

  • Karekare Beach is situated approx. 40 km (25 mi) from central Auckland.
  • Many scenes of the Oscar-winning movie, The Piano, were shot here in 1993.
  • Interestingly, in the same year, the famous Kiwi-Aussie band, Crowded House, recorded their song “Kare Kare” as the opening track on the Together Alone album. Much of the album was indeed recorded at a friend’s house at Karekare Beach.
  • Karekare means “rough surf” or “breaking surf” in Maori.
  • The hills around Karekare Beach are of volcanic origin, built up of mainly andesitic lava.
  • The black sands of the beach contain iron oxide and are also a result of volcanic activity in the past.

Karekare Beach Inspiration

Karekare Beach New Zealand, view
Hilltop view of Karekare Beach by the late afternoon lights, on our third trip to this magic place.

Karekare has something special about it.

Maybe it’s the dark sand, the towering rock formations and hills rising above the sea, the native, thick bush, the open views from the hilltops, the winding Karekare Stream flowing into the sea, the sweeping wind, the crashing waves… I really cannot define it precisely.

Generally, a good number of tourists and Aucklanders may be found on the beach during the daytime, especially in the summer, but if you stay out until the late afternoon hours, peace settles quietly.

We (my wife and I) first visited this stunning place on an October day. At springtime, it was warm during the day, but it cooled down as dusk fell and the westerly winds turned more and more chilly.

By sunset, we saw no one around anymore, so I could take pictures of the totally empty beach scenery. The orange, pink, and red hues were changing rapidly as the sun was kissing the horizon.

For the shot at the top of the post, I chose a place where some pieces of driftwood and the rock in the distance offered a nice composition. Also, there is a sharp contrast between the dark tones of the land and the light sky and water, as well as between the calm lagoon and the roaring ocean waves.

I know it may sound silly, but with all this beauty around me, I felt a deep sense of loneliness and vulnerability. For my “inland” European soul, “raised” on a densely populated continent, it was probably too much to absorb.

At the edge of the world, facing the giant mass of the Pacific Ocean, watching the darkness gradually taking over… To put it short, this all was frighteningly beautiful.

We had arrived in New Zealand only a couple of days before and this was our first discovery of a natural scenery in this country.

Karekare Beach new zealand, Karekare Falls
Karekare Falls: I zoomed in on the lower part of the waterfall and deliberately applied a horizontal alignment to achieve a more dramatic and “tight” composition.

After that, as I spent more and more time out in the field, I quickly got used to the atmosphere of the wild places that offered such fantastic opportunities for nature photography—which I had not experienced in Europe where almost all scenery had already been transformed by man.

Here it was a plethora of wild places to discover and photograph…

Text and photographs © Daniel Kerek

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