Te Henga (Bethells Beach)

My relationship with the Western beaches is simple: I love them, and they continue to amaze and delight. In an attempt to wrest everything we can from the dying grip of Summer (really Fall by this point, but in such a temperate climate the boundaries are indistinct), I joined the dynamic duo of Tyson and Taylor in a trip out to Bethells Beach.

Geography-nerd sidebar: Te Henga means sand in Maori, but for semi-scrutable reasons the New Zealand Place Naming Association, which is not what it’s actually called but should be, decided to rename Bethells Beach to, and I am rendering this just as it is officially recorded, Te Henga (Bethells Beach). Yes, the parenthetical is part of the official name. Because this is both awkward and dumb, I will be referring to the beach as Bethells Beach and the surrounding area as Bethells.

The first part of this post is going to be mostly just beach scenery, because Bethells has a lot of that. It is, it must be said, very pretty.

As you can see, we had a fantastically clear day. The wind made things a little chilly, but it was overall quite good.

As with most of the Western beaches, Bethells is surrounded by the Waitakeres. Unlike, say, Mercer Bay, it’s possible to drive up to Bethells without having to scale said peaks on food.

The beach was rife with these little jellyfish. They’re pretty cool looking. I really don’t know anything about jellyfish; I assume these ones were dead.

Walking further along the beach, a cave appears in the distance! Let’s Zoom and Enhance(tm) to see what’s up.

No, I said Zoom.

There we go. This cave is just asking to be explored.

Explore it we did, but it was not very deep, fairly boring, and poorly-lit. I also left my camera outside, because getting to it required some wading.

I did take this super cool photo of the rock face near the cave, though! I love how neat the water looks.

The angle of the sun also made the view back toward where we started look nearly monochrome!

And here is a fantastic view of a feeder river.

The Dunes

Bethells is not just known for its beach, however. It is also the home to some frankly marvelous sand dunes.

Getting to the dunes requires a bit of a drive, unless you want to walk along the side of a windy mountain road (hint: you don’t).

A quick jaunt down a sandy trail, and then…

Someone dropped a piece of Arrakis in the middle of New Zealand.

Somehow — probably owing to a completely sensible geological explanation — there are some sand dunes surrounded by brush, forest, farmland, and a lake.

Tyson decided to strike a pose, which gives a bit of scale to this sandy expanse.

Were I a filmmaker, I would find a reason to shoot a scene here.

As you progress into the dunes, suddenly, you see it. Hills, a lake, greenery…the dunes just…stop.

Or so it appears. Actually, it’s what will probably eventually be a sandstone cliff.

I’m sure it’s not as steep as it looks. But my brain could not see it as anything other than a sheer drop off. How do I know my companions are insane, you ask?

Yes, they plunged off the edge. And called it fun! I will have none of that, thank you.

The payoff, of course, being that you have to walk back up and get covered in sand. Why would I want to do this again?

My friends’ insanity aside, the dunes are a fantastic place.

Bethells Disc Golf Course

On a completely different trip (with, as you will see, completely different weather) the three of us checked out the disc golf course near Bethells. The course shares ground with some public land featuring equestrian trails and, of course, pasture land for cows.

It turns out to be very poorly marked; the first hole has a hazard the size of a football pitch; and if you miss a throw you will very likely have to cross an electric fence. I didn’t take many photos, but here’s the ones I did:

The course is certainly pretty! You can see a tee box there in the ground with (if you Zoom and Enhance a bit) a basket a bit further on. Is this the correct basket for this tee? Who knows.

We had to take a brief break to shelter from the rain. As you can see from the state of my lens, the shelter was only mildly successful.

My lens is dry again and the skies, while not clear, are not dumping anymore. Unquestionably a pretty course!

This emu was hanging out across the street from the carpark. We stopped to say farewell before heading off back to Auckland.

So that’s three faces of Bethells. Hopefully you enjoyed! Next time, Taylor, Lukas, and I check out a waterfall. See you then!


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