The east coast of Auckland is a lot safer for young kids than the wild surf of the west coast. The East Coast is so much tamer and there are beaches not far North from Auckland, that are suited and safe for young families. Some may be tidal but that gives kids ago in the shallows and they have lots of fun just splashing about.
This beach with easy access being found 15 mins North of the East Coast Bays, it can be action packed and great fun on a good day. There are playgrounds, mild surf, walks and plenty of shops handy as the beach stretches along the main Orewa Centre. There are often events and markets to enjoy also giving plenty to do. A great walking beach. This beach also has a Surf Club so you can safely play with help on hand.
Just 5 mins further North to Orewa you will find Hatfield’s, a small beach alongside the scenic road heading north. Although the main coastal route traffic runs next to the beach, there are some trees on the grass bank and this little bay can look perfectly scenic on a nice day. The tide goes out a little but you can still easily cool off, swim and splash about.
Wenderholm Regional Park
This has to be a top pick of mine for a family beach outing. Just another 5 mins along heading North from Hatfields this is very popular in the summer as large groups meet for the day. There are lots of lovely Pohutukawa Trees for shade and if you get there early you will find a perfect spot for a picnic and perhaps an area for a game of cricket. At high tide. The estuary is great for kayaking and even swimming so a lunchtime tide is ideal. There are BBQs you can arrange to use or take your own gas one. You can fish and there are walking tracks with great views.
To note the estuary gets a strong current to it as the tide goes out. At this time it is not a good place for young kids to play, you have the beach for water play and although it is shallow for a way at low tide it is good for kids and you can still walk out and swim even at low tide.
Travel another 5 mins north then turn off the main road and continue for another 15 mins and you will discover the Mahurangi West Regional Park. Sullivans Bay is popular. There is a campground there, and they have a big Regatta on Auckland anniversary weekend. The water is clear cool and deeper and the bay is sheltered. At low tide you can explore the rocks. You can also walk into Te Muri Bay at low tide.
Te Muri Bay
I love Te Muri Bay. This may be because I have camped there a few times. Go into the top car park ( before going down into Sullivans). It is easy to walk to at low tide but you need to plan your visit so as not to get trapped at high tide. The beach is quite long, safe swimming, not a lot of shade but there is a big tree half way along the beach. The camp only has long drops. No bathing facilities, kitchen or anything. People often bring their boats in with camp gear.
Here is a previous post re Camping at Te Muri Bay