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Muriwai Beach Fishing Map

Muriwai Beach is situated on the West Coast just north of Auckland and is Paul's favorite kite fishing spot.

The beach is around 35km long and while it may all look the same to a visitor, the fishing varies considerably along it's length.

The best time for catching snapper is from November to June.

Kingfish and trevally are frequently taken from December to May while gurnard and kahawai can be caught year round.

Sharks and large stingrays can cause problems at times, the more desirable large spotted dogfish (true lemonfish) can be caught on crab or shellfish baits.

Because Muriwai is so popular with Auckland kitefishers, we have had hundreds of reports from there over the years.

It appears that most of the really big snapper are usually loners and can be caught anywhere along the beach.


Muriwai Beach Fishing Map

Note : This map has been rotated to fit this page.

The compass rose points to true north.

A northerly wind is fishable

Muriwai Fishing Map

Sourced from Land Information New Zealand data

Crown Copyright Reserved


Notable Catches

The best snapper haul we are aware of was taken at the top of the beach on a flexiwing rig. The lucky angler caught five snapper between 7.5 and 12.5 kg on his first five hook set and four similar sized snapper and a shark on his second. He said the 30kg mainline he was fishing with was often near breaking point during retrieval both times.

Six snapper over 13.5kg (30 pounds) have been reported directly to us. Paul has caught 12 fish on 12 hooks several times - once while fishing with the editor of the "Fishing News." 100 percent catch rates on kite rigs are not that unusual here between November and March.

Large kingfish can be caught over summer when the mullet are running, Muriwai local Mike Roe caught a 25kg one fishing straight out from the creek on his first kite fishing trip. A 5kg turbot - a kind of giant flounder - was also taken off the creek.

Two really unusual catches were reported from around Rimmer Road. One unlucky kite fisherman caught a hapuku which was attacked by sharks. By the time the fish was hauled in only the head and wings were left. It would have been a good fish as the remains weighed in at 7kg. The other fish was a 2.5kg blue cod. What these two reef fish were doing 15km away from the nearest reef is a real mystery.

The best thing about kite fishing at Muriwai has to be the expectation as you haul in the gear, there is such a fantastic range of possible species to catch you just never know what you're going to get.

Paul and I took a drive up Muriwai Beach and took photos of all the kitefishers on the beach during a spell of easterly winds in March. Check out this Muriwai fishing report to see what they caught


The Best Fishing Spots


(A) Fishing The Southern End

The beach starts at the Muriwai township and rock fishing from a papa rock platform is accessible via a track near the car park at the southern end of the beach. If the surf is up, the waves sweep right across the platform, and it becomes too dangerous to fish. Anglers are frequently swept off the rocks here so choose your days carefully!

Paul has fished a flexiwing dropper rig from the rock shelf in northwest winds in winter. The gear set parallel to Maori Bay and around 500 meters out. There is a lot of reef here but Paul only landed a small blue cod and a couple of kahawai.

Swimmers and other beach users usually congregate at the southern end of the beach and this area is best avoided by kite and kontiki fishers for safety reasons.

Kite fishers who insist on fishing this end of the beach often have trouble with the mat mussels offshore here. The hooks occasionally snag on the mussels and this can stall the gear just offshore. The only solution when this happens is to retrieve the gear and try again.

(B) Fishing The Creek

For 4WD and walk-on access at the creek turn right at Golf Road just before Muriwai township , this puts you a couple of kilometers up the beach. This beach entry is fairly flat and it is an easy walk onto the beach.

If you are on foot then either side of the creek is a good place to set your kite rig out. If you have a 4WD then the area from 2 - 5 km north of the creek is better for snapper - there is a large bed of snapper biscuits (a flat type of sea urchin) here and most of the snapper you catch are full of them.

(C) North of the Creek

From 7km up the beach to just south of the picnic area is very good for catching gurnard although the fishing is only average for snapper. Despite this, occasionally very good catches are taken.

(D) Fishing The Picnic Area

This is another good spot for those without 4WD's. Drive past the Muriwai turn off on Highway 16 and turn left before Hellensville at Rimmer Rd. A gravel road leads through the Woodhill forest to the coast road. Turn left at this intersection for the Picnic Area or right for the 4WD access onto the beach. The short walk to the beach is signposted from the picnic area car park

This is a great kite fishing spot where many big snapper have been landed over the years. The area also produces good hauls of 1 to 5kg snapper plus the odd moocher, gurnard and kahawai year round and sharks and kingfish occasionally.

(E) Fishing Rimmer Rd Access to the Cliffs

The wreck of the "Kindern" lies scattered offshore around the Rimmer Rd 4WD access. Many kite longlines have been snagged and lost here so don't kite fish near this access point. Paul always turns right and heads north to allow those fishing around the picnic area 2km to the south of the 4WD access a bit of space.

The first 6km of beach up from the Rimmer Rd 4WD access is great for kite fishing. The sloping dunes allow 4WD's to be parked above the reach of high water, so you can safely fish over the top of the tide in most conditions.

If Paul has limited time or is filming this is where he fishes. Usually he catches better than half a 40 liter chilly bin of fish and he often returns with the bin full. Lately, (January to November 2005), most of the catch has been snapper from 1 to 4kg with big gurnard and kahawai making up the balance.

(F) The Cliffs to the Bombing Range

About 7k's up from the Rimmer Rd 4WD access the lay of the beach changes. Instead of the dunes sloping down to meet the beach the sand is harder and the dunes have been eroded leaving a cliff face.

The tide comes right up to the cliff face in this area so there is no over the tide parking available. The cliffs continue until just before the bombing range near the top end of the beach.

The fishing in this area is red hot but it requires some planning to fish safely. The ideal is to get on at the Rimmer Rd 4WD access with the tide 2.5 to 3 hours out and make certain you get off the beach before the tide is 3 hours in. If you allow half an hour traveling time each way, you will get in a good solid 5 hours fishing. The further north you go the bigger the snapper get. On the down side the same thing also applies to sharks, big school sharks and bigger bronze whalers can be in plague proportions at the top end.

Extreme caution needs to be taken here fishing spring tides or when the swell is above 2 meters. Occasionally a huge sweeper or rogue wave occurs, these big waves can cover 50% more of beach than the average wave.

(G) From the Bombing Range to the Lagoon

The best snapper spot on the whole of Muriwai beach is from just short of the bombing range round to the lagoon. It's possible to park over the top of the tide in many areas at the top end of the beach but extreme caution should be taken once you start coming around into the Kaipara Harbour.

The curve of the beach is very gentle, almost imperceptible, but you know you've arrived there when the surf drops to nothing. The sand in this area can be very unpredictable. Water from the lagoon seeps under the beach and patches of very soft sand can quickly cause a 4WD to become bogged. At low tide there are deep ruts on the beach and driving over them too fast is dangerous.

It's a good idea to take some planks of wood and a shovel, or even better, a sand anchor and a winch.

The rip in this area is extreme, so it is more difficult to fish this end of the beach. The best time to fish the top end is right over slack low or slack high, although the low tide seems to be marginally better.

When the big snapper are in here you can get one on every hook. The deepest water is less than 500 meters out at low tide, many of the kitefishers that specialize in this area seldom let their hooks out more than 300 meters offshore.

This area is also the most productive surf casting area on Muriwai. Snapper, gurnard and kahawai can be caught year round. Large kingfish patrol the channel edges over the summer months. A small kahawai live bait on the back hook of a dropper rig is an ideal way of targeting these kingi's and will occasionally yield a huge snapper.


Best Fishing Winds


A northerly through to easterly is best for kite fishing from the main beach. The top end can be fished in anything from east to sou' sou' west and the rocks at the southern end can be fished with small kite rigs in north to north westerly winds.

A little known localised phenomena is that any wind from the north kicks offshore by around 20 degrees from the beach to a couple of kilometers offshore. The longshore current usually travels from south to north.

The combination of these two factors make for great kite fishing from the main beach in a northerly wind.

When the wind is from the south the opposite occurs so southeasterlies are difficult to fish. The wind comes straight up the beach and with the current heading in the same direction tacking a kite across both can be very difficult. Paul always fishes the top end in these conditions


Best Fishing Methods


If you haven't got a 4WD, a 10 hook flexiwing dropper rig either run from a beach reel or fishing rod is ideal. If you want to set more hooks, a big 20 hook dropper rig combined with a beach cart makes the job of getting all the fish back to the car a whole lot easier. For those with a 4WD, big dropper rigs on beach reels or better still on electric winches are hugely productive.

Kite longlines and kontikis don't work as well as kite dropper rigs at Muriwai. This is particularly noticeable on the first couple of days of an easterly because this is when the surf is high and the rip is at it's strongest. Longlines can get caught in these rips and dragged up the beach. Because the mainline on a dropper rig is out of the water it is unaffected by these strong longshore rips.

Sharks, which can show up in large numbers, are another reason that we do not recommend kite longlines or kontiki's on this beach. If a shark bites through the hook section on a dropper rig it doesn't matter, you only loose a few hooks. If a shark bites through the mainline of a longline you will lose your kite or kontiki.

When Paul first started kite fishing at Muriwai he only used kite longlines in the first 3 years and lost 6 or 7 kites. This is what led him to develop dropper rigs and he hasn't lost a kite now for at least 15 years. During this time he has had around 15 or 20 dropper rig hook sections bitten off or seriously damaged by sharks.

Kite Dropper rigs give around two or three times as many fishable days on the west coast as kite longline rigs. Paul's favorite rig is now a 65kg dropper rig towed by a power chute kite, the rig is hauled in by an electric fishing winch. I've seen this rig in action and it is truly magic, I'd have to say it's the easiest fishing I've ever done.

Because of the number of vehicles that travel Muriwai it's important to keep your gear near the waters edge to prevent obstructing the flow of traffic. Equally, if you are hauling in the gear, be attentive to traffic coming up or down the beach and be sure to stop hauling and hold the line hard down on the beach and allow the vehicles to pass if the tide is too far in for them to pass behind you.


Best Bait for Muriwai


Absolutely fresh, just caught kahawai, yellow tail, mullet, trevally or even gurnard are all top baits that will out fish anything you've brought to the beach. The best system is to take a good bait with you and start fishing with that, then use something you catch for bait.

Paul is a fanatic about his starting bait and usually gets his bait from a hawker on the way to the beach. He chooses whatever looks freshest on the day. Usually this works out to be freshly caught and iced mullet, kahawai or yellow tail. If the hawker is closed then Paul will take frozen squid. Whatever bait he takes, it is always kept on ice. The bait should be cut to about the size of your thumb and hooked through just once at one end of the strip of bait.

For those with dropper rigs who want to use a huge bait, the best idea is to put a big hook on the back trace and put a whole fillet of mullet or kahawai on it. This way, if you do happen to catch a shark, you will only lose the back hook. Correct baiting of the hooks is very important when kitefishing.


Driving on the Beach


Always slow down when passing other fishers on the beach and whenever possible go behind those who are fishing. If you have to go in front of them and over their gear, stop and ensure they have their mainline hard on the beach before driving very slowly over it.

Avoid making sharp turns at speed, the front wheels can dig into the sand and cause your vehicle to flip. This is particularly important when going behind vehicles on the beach as turning from hard sand into the softer sand higher up the beach vastly increases the risk of flipping your vehicle. 70 to 80 kilometers an hour is a reasonable speed when traveling in a straight line and the beach is clear, go much more slowly when passing other users.


Protecting Beach Access


There is a powerful lobby of environmental groups who would like to see all vehicles removed from all beaches around New Zealand, these people are gaining a lot of political support. Their main concern is the sand dune area from just above mean high-water spring tides to a couple of hundred meters inland, and all coastal wetland areas.

The top end of Muriwai from the bombing range to the lagoon is particularly sensitive and is an important area for nesting seabirds. If fishers can limit themselves to driving only on the hard intertidal zone of the beach and drive above this area only for parking over the top of the tide then environmental concerns would be minimised.

We all know that motorbikes and 4WD enthusiasts do use the higher parts of the beach and possibly the best solution for these non-fishing off beach activities is for environmental groups to work with councils to have more designated areas for these activities.


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Above: Morgan Barnes with a decent sized snapper from a Whangarei longline set that caught 21 good sized fish from 25 hooks set!

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