New Zealand has some of the best beaches in the world. While they might not be tropical beaches with steamy tropical heat, they are stunningly beautiful, clean, often isolated, and you might even find rare sea life.
New Zealand is home to numerous beaches on both the North and South Islands, with 15,000km of coastline around this small island nation. There’s popular surf and sunbathing shores near cities, and distant and hidden gems that give visitors a secluded, serene space to hang out. Locals will definitely have suggestions, and there will always be more options than you can possibly visit. Here’s our suggestions on the not-to-be-missed beaches from all around New Zealand.
Anchor Bay, Tāwharanui Regional Park
A 90 km drive from Auckland leads the visitor to Tāwharanui Regional Park, a true hidden gem. White sands and stunning ocean views aside, there are great walking trails, short and long, including an ecology trail. Rockpools, the northern side’s long stretch of beach which is said to be one of the top surfing and swimming spots in the area, and pohutukawa trees to picnic under while looking down on the beach make for a great day trip. You can book a spot at the tent or motorhome site if you wish to stay overnight.
For motorhome rentals in New Zealand visit Wilderness Motorhomes.
Koekohe Beach, Waitaki
Like the idea of 65-million-year-old rock formations to amble around? That’s what awaits visitors to Koekohe Beach, where the sizable Moeraki Boulders, some as high as two metres, are a spectacular sight. While driving across the North Otago coast, the 50 plus Moeraki Boulders are a must-stop and visit. Climb over them, take pictures, enjoy the beauty of the beach and the silhouette of the rocks against the horizon.
Maitai Bay, Northland
A remote but gentle beach beloved by Kiwis for summer sun and sand time. Maitai Bay has crystal clear water and soft white sand, with swimming, snorkelling and kayaking if you want to do more than just relax on the beach.
Kaiteriteri Beach and Onetahuti Beach, Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman might be the smallest of the country’s 13 national parks, but within its environs are some truly brilliant beaches. Kaiteriteri Beach is said to be the best of the best, and visitors from near and far stop to marvel at the unique golden hues of its sands, formed by mica and quartz crystals.
The horseshoe shaped Onetahuti Beach, also called Tonga Beach is a lush marine reserve, with a clear view of the spectacular Tonga Island, as well as being home to an adorable fur seal population.
Hokitika Beach, West Coast
The only beach town on the West Coast, Hokitika has a rich history, settled nearly 200 years ago after gold was discovered there. Aside from the beach, trek across the Hokitika Gorge, and if you are visiting in the summer, check out the Driftwood and Sand Festival as well as the Wildfoods Festival, quirky and charming local traditions. It’s a wild beach, best known for moody skies and a driftwood ‘Hokitika’ sign; take your jacket and plan for a warming meal afterwards at a local pub.
Mt Maunganui, Bay of Plenty
Mount Maunganui, affectionately called ‘The Mount’ by locals, has been named the best beach in all of New Zealand according to Trip Advisor. Head up Mount Maunganui aka Mauao to get an unmatched view of the entire peninsula. The bottom of Mauao gives you a view of a stunning white sand beach, stretching seemingly endlessly in either direction.
Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, The Coromandel
Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Coast is an absolute must visit when touring New Zealand. Placed at one end of Mercury Bay, you can get to the natural arch and golden sand beach on foot or by rowing across the waters and take a few photos under the arch for a lasting memory.
Mere minutes down the road is another must-stop by beach, Hot Water Beach, so named for the underground hot springs that come up through the sands, and one of the popular geothermal spots to visit in New Zealand. You can dig and create small personal pools and bask in the warm waters for a spa like feel, while enjoying the sight of the sea right ahead. This beach is pretty popular, so be prepared to see other tourists.
Piha Beach, Auckland
This list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of one of New Zealand’s black sand beaches – a unique visual experience. Piha Beach is one such wild beach, with huge crashing waves and the Lion Rock island on the sea.
There’s so much variety in NZ, from the rocky beaches on the West Coast, the golden sands of Nelson, to the diverse marine life (also, delicious marine life). Whether it’s whale watching in Kaikoura, fur seals in the far south, or the never-ending summer and sand dunes of the far North, there’s the perfect beach for you.