17 Incredible Beaches in New Zealand You Have to Visit
With over 14,000 km of spectacular coastline, New Zealand is a fantastic destination for a beach holiday. Whether you want to surf, swim, dive or simply lay back and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, you’ll be sure to find the perfect beach in New Zealand.
If you’re looking to find the clearest waters or the softest sands, here’s our guide to 17 incredible beaches in New Zealand you simply have to visit.
1. Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula
As the name suggests, Hot Water Beach has its own unique hot pools of bubbling water. Here you’ll find people of all ages digging through the golden sands to create their very own hot water spa pool right on the beach.
The beach is such because of an underground river of hot water that flows from deep below the Earth’s surface up to the Pacific Ocean. Not only is this a real bucket list experience, but the sheer beauty of the beach makes it unmissable. A long stretch of golden sand overlooks the distant Castle Island in the Pacific Ocean, while also featuring the magnificent backdrop of the Pohutukawa-lined cliffs.
2. New Chums Beach, Coromandel Peninsula
It may be a little out of the way but the half hour trek through the Whangapoua bush is part of the charm of New Chums Beach, and the journey is certainly worth it. This isolated and secluded beach has a wide sweep of white sand set against a stunning setting of native Pohutukawa trees. Here you can enjoy the magnificence of this beautiful beach in peace and tranquillity, with nature as your only companion. Take a picnic and watch the native birdlife on the beach. Try to spot orcas and dolphins off the coastline, then stay and watch the stunning sunset at the end of the day.
3. Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula
Cathedral Cove gets its name from the cathedral-like arch that has been naturally formed by wind and water over the centuries. The cove is one of the most famous in New Zealand thanks to its appearance in the Chronicles of Narnia film, Prince Caspian.
Surrounded by wonderful walking trails, the cove is a popular spot for boat trips and kayaking. The tranquil turquoise waters also make it ideal for safe swimming and paddling.
4. Ninety Mile Beach, Northland
Don’t let a little thing like mathematics get in the way, Ninety Mile beach is actually only 55 miles long, but it still long enough to look like it goes on forever. This awe-inspiringly beautiful beach is a stunning mass of Pacific Ocean waves lapping against gigantic sand dunes that stretch from Kaitaia up to Cape Reinga, the most northern point of New Zealand.
The dunes here are so big that it’s a popular spot for sand dune boarding. Other popular activities include surfcasting for snapper and digging for tuatua, a native shellfish, during the low tide. There aren’t many facilities here so just sit back and enjoy nature’s beauty. And be sure to check out the spectacular sunset at the end of your day.
5. Matai Bay, Northland
This New Zealand jewel is hidden on the KariKari Peninsula and many would like to keep it that way. This gorgeous piece of paradise is the perfect place to chill out away from the crowds and swim in warm, sheltered waters. It’s so remote and tranquil it feels like time stands still.
There are no facilities here, so pack plenty of food and drink and bring your own snorkelling gear to explore the crystal clear waters. The bay is also a great place to do a spot of fishing.
6. Piha Beach, West Auckland
With its rugged cliff tops, black sand and powerful rip curls, Piha Beach in West Auckland is the most popular surf beach in New Zealand. The birthplace of Malibu board riding offers some fantastic surfing for advanced surfers, while those who are new to the sport should be aware of the unrelenting currents and strong undertows and only go out with a qualified instructor.
The beach is patrolled by professional lifesavers, so if you are tempted to hit the waves make sure you stay between the flags. If you don’t want to swim or surf, the surrounding bush trails of the Waitakere Ranges offer some fantastic walks.
7. Karekare, West Auckland,
Who can forget the haunting music and the beach setting of the Oscar winning Jane Campion film The Piano. This black sand, wild, deserted beach was used as a filming location for the hit movie.
If you prefer a more secluded beach, you’ll find Karekare a more tranquil and solitary alternative to the more popular Piha Beach nearby. Like Piha, surfing conditions are excellent for experienced surfers, but the strong undercurrents make if safer and advisable for swimmers to remain between the flags.
The landscape here is magnificent and has attracted painters, writers and photographers from all over the world to capture its mystic beauty. Enjoy the various walking trails in the National Park, before tucking into a picnic on the beach.
8. Mission Bay, Auckland
If you want to find a beautiful beach nearer to Auckland, then Mission Bay won’t disappoint. With stunning views across Rangitoto Island, this gorgeous beach has a bit of everything for everyone. Only 20 minutes from Auckland CBD, there are bars and restaurants galore to enjoy local delights while dining al fresco and enjoying the views. A must see is the glorious Trevor Moss Davis Memorial Fountain which features 12-metre blasts of water and spectacular light shows in the evening.
Enjoy a beachside bbq while the kids play in the beachside playground or take a long walk along the main strip before stopping for a coffee or cocktail at one of the lovely bars along the way.
9. Ngarunui Beach, Raglan
The beautiful black sandy beach at Raglan is one of the most popular surf spots in New Zealand, loved by surfing newbies and experts alike. There’s a dedicated surf school right on the beach and an area patrolled by surf lifesavers from October to April.
There aren’t any amenities at the beach so make sure you pack a picnic before you go. There are some lovely picnic spots above the beach in the Wainui Reserve, which offers some great walking spots and is an ideal location to watch a spectacular sunset at the end of a hard day’s surf.
10. Whale Bay, Raglan
Just five minutes drive south of Raglan is the delightful Whale Bay, a world famous surf spot. With plenty of surf schools to choose from, it’s an ideal beach for beginners while offering challenging waves for expert surfers.
Whale Bay has a distinctly bohemian and eco-friendly feel with a range of organic eateries and grocery stores, massage studios and day spas to choose from. Coastal walks here are spectacular and there are plenty of places to stop off for a picnic.
11. Wainui Beach, Gisborne
This beautiful surfing beach near the city of Gisborne is a popular spot for wedding parties, and it’s easy to see why. Wainui, the Maori meaning for ‘big water’ has fantastic breaking waves, golden sands and a stunning backdrop of dunes and bush reserves, making it one of the most picturesque and protected spots on the North Island.
The area around the beach offers great walking trails and idyllic picnic spots. Alternatively head to the local community store for the best fish and chips in the area.
12. Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson
This picture perfect beach can be found at the top end of the South Island. It has the longest hours of sunshine in New Zealand and is therefore a popular spot with locals and tourists alike.
There’s plenty to do here including kayaking, jet skiing and boat trips to the surrounding coves and lagoons, as well as a great selection of eateries serving freshly caught seafood. Make sure you keep an eye out for the local wildlife. Penguins, seals and dolphins are common sightings here.
13. Sumner Beach, Christchurch
This lovely beach a few kilometres from Christchurch has soft warm sands and safe shallow waters making it an ideal location for families. The beach, a popular spot with locals, is long enough to find secluded areas away from the crowds, while the nearby esplanade offers all the amenities you need for a fun and classic Kiwi day out at the beach including restaurants, bars, ice cream shops and quirky shops.
Make sure you explore the iconic Cave Rock, a mass of black lava rock filled with nooks and crannies waiting to be discovered. Maori tradition believes the rock symbolises the body of a giant whale that was washed ashore many years ago. The climb to the top of Cave Rock offers stunning views along the beach and surrounding coastline.
14. Whites Bay, Marlborough
Situated between Picton and Blenheim, the lovely sweep of white sand that is Whites Bay provides a safe and sheltered spot for family swimming. The views across the Bay are stunning from the lookout above the beach, while there are plenty of rock pools to explore and natural sand slides to enjoy.
There is a range of walks in the surrounding area, which is also ideal for mountain bikers. Alternatively there are climbing tracks through the stunning forest and ridgelines around Mount Robertson.
Whites Bay is a great place for a day of family fun offering safe swimming, surfing, fishing and kayaking with some of the sunniest weather in New Zealand and a variety of top class golf courses in the nearby area.
15. Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay
The waters of Wharariki Beach are far too dangerous for swimming, but don’t let that stop you from visiting what is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Brace yourselves for a windy walk among the strange and fascinating rock formations that are dotted along the golden sandy beach and, if you’re lucky, you may spot a baby seal or two playing in the rock pools.
The magnificence of this beautiful and remote beach can be found after a 20-minute walk along a farm track surrounded by rolling pastureland, lowland bush and undulating sand dunes. This wild beach is ideal for wildlife watching and long walks where you can admire the natural beauty of New Zealand at its very best.
16. Koekohe Beach, Otago
This fascinating beach is famous for its mysterious Moeraki boulders: large spherical stones half submerged in the golden sands. These enormous stones, some of which measure up to three metres in diameter, are made up of millions of years of hardened sea sediment and are cracked open to appear like dragon’s eggs. You can even climb inside some of them!
Be warned, the sea here is pretty chilly, so be sure to pack a wetsuit if you fancy a dip. But more importantly, don’t forget your camera to get some great snaps of these enchanting and awe inspiring stones.
As well as the boulders, Koekohe is also home to some fascinating wildlife including a colony of seals, Hectors Dolphins and a yellow-eyed penguin sanctuary.
17. Anchorage Beach, Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is blessed with a variety of stunning beaches, bays and coastline walks. But one of the most stunning has got to be Anchorage, a lovely horseshoe arc of glistening golden sand lapped by tranquil, turquoise waters and overlooked by lush, greenery. There is nothing to do here expect lie back and relax in the sun, walk along the beach with the sand between your toes or take a dip in the crystal clear azure waters.
Venture further afield and take the stunning coastal Great Walk to nearby Cleopatra’s Pool, a beautiful natural rock pool with a moss-lined natural slide.
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