Castor and Mairangi Bays are among the many lovely beaches on Auckland's North Shore. Smaller, more local and less busy than Takapuna, they are great bases for exploring the North Shore up to Browns Bay or south to Milford Beach and Takapuna.
There's limited free parking at both Castor Bay and Mairangi Bay.
From the beach.
There are toilets and showers at Castor Bay and toilets at Mairangi Bay.
There are cafes at both locations.
Depending on the wind direction, it's possible to paddle here at high tide and low tide and anywhere in between. As a principle, remember that at high tide you'll be able to paddle closer to land so in some wind conditions there's more shelter.
For primo flat water paddling, a still day with little or no wind is ideal.
Southerly, south westerly or westerly wind directions: The water will be flat close to shore, especially at high tide because it's sheltered. However if the wind is strengthening (12 knots plus), there is risk of being blown off shore (from land towards Rangitoto). So in these conditions, paddling along the shoreline and in shelter of the cliffs should keep you out of some of the wind. As we said earlier, that is easier at high tide. If the wind is westerly, our south westerly there will be a wind blowing across you so be prepared to paddle more on one side than the other.
Northerly, north easterly and south easterly wind directions: This is likely to be when waves and bumpy water happen (especially when combined with an incoming tide and/or a sea breeze). This is good news for those wanting to grow their experience in different water and wind conditions because you can take steps towards getting used to and building skills in these more challenging conditions.
If you’re looking to sharpen up your skills in catching bumps and ‘surfing’ the bumpy water, Mairangi Bay is great with a 12 knot plus north easterly breeze blowing in. Paddle out into the wind and catch the bumps back to the beach. Great practice while keeping close to shore.
And even when there's not a solid wind, often there are little waves at Mairangi Bay rolling in with a swell. Great opportunities to start and practice catching small waves.
To check weather, wind direction and tides download the Coastguard app or head to Metservice. The real time wind readings from Bean Rock and/or Tirtiri Matangi (Coastguard app) will give you a good sense of what's happening in the Harbour. If you want added safety when on the water you can log your trips on the Coastguard app.
There are a number of reefs along the coast both north and south. Keep your eyes out for marker poles sticking out the water to highlight those reefs.
There is boat traffic to and from Milford Marina at mid to high tide.
While we've aimed to point out the key features of this location, our guide is not intended to be exhaustive. Please be mindful of any risks you identify when paddling and if in doubt, be cautious.
Photo credit: Georgia Schofield