New Zealand's best beaches
Ahh, a Kiwi summer! Is there anything better? If you’re planning a New Zealand beach holiday, then you’re in the right place. We’ve been around the block a few times, and while on our travels, have compiled a list of some of New Zealand’s best beaches to laze away your summer at.
Take your pick of the list, pack a picnic and park up at one of these sandy shores.
(Pro tip: Remember to check SafeSwim to ensure the beach is swimmable, and always swim between the flags where possible, following lifeguard instructions).
Best for: Surf Lovers
Manu Bay, Raglan
It’s a good sign when a beach attracts surf enthusiasts from all over the world. Manu Bay’s iconic left-hand break is a long-standing iconic wave to catch in the surf community. Park up your van, ute, or station wagon at the lively Manu Bay carpark, scope the waves and carefully navigate the rocky entry. You won’t be disappointed!
If you want to experience quintessential New Zealand surfing, then you’ll love Wainui. A long stretch of white sandy beach and the rows of iconic kiwi beaches overlooking the ocean provide the perfect vibe for surfers looking for swell along Tairāwhiti (The East Coast). Hit up one of the cosy local cafes for your coffee hit before picking your spot to ride the waves of the Pacific.
St Clair, Dunedin
Being only minutes away from Dunedin city centre, this surf beach is super accessible for a quick wave if you’re staying in Dunedin. There are some great vantage spots to check the swell before picking a break – but be prepared to brave the cold if you’re visiting in the winter months!
Best for: Families
Ōhope, Bay of Plenty
When it comes to the beaches in New Zealand, Ōhope has been a long-standing family paradise for the hot NZ summers, and for good reason! A vibrant and friendly community meets a white sand beach (perfect for sandcastles!). If you’re feeling the need to stretch the legs, there are plenty of walking tracks nearby that are suitable for ages. Remember to get your well-deserved classic ice cream-on-a-cone at the end!
It’s no secret that the Coromandel has an array of stunning beaches, it was hard to pick just one. But, the classic Hahei takes the cake for us! Not only is Hahei beach an ideal spot to park your umbrella for the day, but it’s also the surrounds that make it a truly family-friendly summer spot. From Cathedral Cove to Hot Water Beach, there are endless activities to keep you entertained, and breathtaking views to indulge in.
Kaiteriteri, Nelson Tasman
A firm favourite for locals, add Kaiteriteri to your list of New Zealand beaches to visit with the family. From kayaking around the bay, to dipping your toes into the stunning blue water, Kaiteriteri is a destination not to be missed. Pro tip – secure some fish’n’chips and extend your beach day until sunset. It won’t be as hot as during the day, and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking sunset to end your perfect family day out!
Best for: City Dwellers
A lovely 400-metre stretch of sand calls, just 20 minutes from Christchurch city! It’s a perfect spot to take the dog for a good run about, or even a leisurely ocean swim amongst its rugged landscape. Sumner is patrolled by lifeguards from November to March, so swim between the flags and be aware of potential rips.
Only 25 minutes’ drive from Central Auckland, Ōrewa beach is not only a destination for a beach day, but also a great place to explore the local shops, art galleries and yummy food spots. Do your beach day your way – hire kayaks, stand-up paddle boards or bicycles, or set up your picnic on the sand and laze your day away.
Often overshadowed by its neighbour Mission Bay, Kohimarama beach is its quieter and quainter sister. Take the boardwalk around the Eastern Bays and stop for an ice cream, quick dip or connect with your inner child get sandcastle building. With great cafes located practically on the shoreline, it’s an ideal spot for a morning coffee and stroll.
Best for: Off the beaten track
A gravel road truly means you’re heading to a stunning beach in NZ! You’ll have to carefully navigate this road and then embark on a luscious 20-minute walk through native bush – but you’ll be rewarded with one of the most stunning beaches in the country. Make sure you come prepared with sunscreen, water, and snacks as you’ll be a fair distance from a shop once you’ve arrived at this stunning cove.
Whale Bay, Northland
Heading north? Don’t miss a stop in at the secluded Whale Bay. Unfortunately, whales are not often seen here (we’ve all been tricked!) but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a plethora of reasons to spend a day at this bay. Lush native bush, softly lapping water, marine life, and just a great spot to take in the serenity of New Zealand’s north.
One of the best kept secrets of the North Island, Waitarere beach is a vast sandy beach, making it ideal for land yachting, fishing, surfing and even motorbiking! Pop into nearby Levin to stock up on your beach essentials before setting up for the day. Remember to watch out for rips and swim between flags!
Whatever you’re looking for in a beach, New Zealand has no shortage of stunning sandy shores to choose from. Pack your picnic, load the car and get out there!
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