Muriwai Black Sand Beach in New Zealand
July 18, 2008
Less than an hour from downtown Auckland, New Zealand, Muriwai Black Sand beach is a favorite destination for picnickers, day-trippers, bird watchers, surfers, land yachters, and anyone looking for a nice day out of town. The hard black sands have been designated as an official highway despite a few spots of soft quicksand, allowing tour busses and other vehicles to drive right up to the edge of the ocean. Muriwai is one of several indigenous sources of iron sand, which in this instance is a mixture of iron, titanium, vanadium and other materials volcanic in origin. Despite historical difficulties in extracting iron from the sands New Zealand's first steel mill was built at the nearby town of Glenbrook in 1970. Currently, Muriwai Beach is a part of the Auckland regional park system and hosts more than a million visitors each year. In addition to the iron sands Muriwai hosts a large colony of gannets who now share the skies with hang-gliders. Suburban development, attracted by the nearness of the city and the beauty of the area, has grown nearly to the beach bringing with it invasive plant species and family pets which have taken their toll on the environment.