Sit on the Pohutukawa’s branch on the ridge between these twin bays and you’ll think that you’re perched in the cleavage of Mother Nature’s bosom. As I sit in this very tree and write this, I don’t want to leave. So, I’ll torture you with more puns. The eye-candy view is Sweet As…M&Ms. The waves break in smiles. Just like Campbell’s soup, this view is mmm, mmm good. Maitai and Merita…mmm, mmm good!
Above Maitai sprawls a DOC campground that swarms at holiday times. Every DOC ranger north of Auckland will advise you to visit here, and it doesn’t disappoint. Families swim and sun all day long. Sailboats come and go. Maitai Bay is a simple curve, but Merita is a lady of deeper intrigue. Walk along her shore to find jungle-gym Pohutukawas, bouldery coves, and sneaky islets. It’s OK to walk all the way to the end (over the mid-beach saddle)—it’s all public beach. At the farthest end you’ll find a marked track to a trig, but it’s way overgrown—gorse and remorse. Go up a little ways on this track though, and you’ll find a grassy knoll with spouting blowholes on either side of it and a great secluded view back to the bays.
Plenty of people who visit Maitai have no idea that sweeping Karikari Bay and its infinity of white sand and blue water are just a 20-minute walk or short drive directly over the western hill. Just past Maitai’s entrance a “no access” sign is confusing, but the dirt road heading left leads 500m to a carpark. The sugar-whi te beach is down the short track. If the wind is blowing on one side of this peninsula, simply head to the other for calm Middle of Merita Beach swimming. Yum.