A tranquil park with safe sandy beaches lies tucked inside the southern headland of the Manukau Harbour on Auckland's west coast.Behind the beaches, wetlands provide the ideal habitat for fern birds and banded rails. At low tide, offshore mudflats attract a variety of wading birds to entertain even the most casual birdwatchers. A short walk leads to the historic Brook Homestead; a longer walk over farmland rewards hikers with sweeping views of the vast Manukau Harbour to the distant city. There are two campsites at the park and bookings are made by contacting the Auckland Regional Council. Some motorhome sites are also available.Close by, on the other side of the headland, the untamed west coast awaits. The long black sand beach stretches far to the south, pounded by the Tasman Sea. At the end of the peninsula an easy walk leads to a viewing platform at the signal station and lookout. From 244 metres above the sea you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of the harbour entrance with its turbulent waters and ever-shifting sand bars.Awhitu Peninsula is about 80 minutes drive south and then west from the centre of Auckland.