New Zealand's two islands offer more than 9,000 combined miles of pristine coastline, known as a veritable paradise for beach lovers throughout the world. Stunning preserved natural terrain at many popular beach sites highlights black volcanic sands, desertlike sand dunes, and virgin native forest lands, with a number of beaches backed by stunning natural preserves that offer opportunities for hiking and birdwatching. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.

1.Maitai Bay

Maitai Bay
© Anna/

Maitai Bay is a gorgeous white sand beach and campground located in New Zealand's Kaitaia area, popular for its myriad of seasonal recreation activities and abundance of natural wildlife. Tall pohutukawa line the beach's shoreline, while endangered bird species such as the New Zealand dotterel and oystercatcher call the surrounding bay home. Visitors to Maitai Bay have a wide range of water sports opportunities at their disposal, including chances for fishing, diving, hiking, boating, swimming, and snorkelling. As the bay is a site of cultural signifigance to the region's native Maori Iwi people, particularly along Maitai Point, visitors should note that the beach's elevated areas should be avoided for fishing due to their cultural significance. While restrooms and showers are provided for visitor use, no drinking water is available for consumption.

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2.Ninety Mile Beach

Ninety Mile Beach
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Ninety Mile Beach is one of the most famed beachfront stretches in the country of New Zealand, located on North Island between Reef Point and Scott Point. The beach, which actually only measures at a length of 55 miles long, is known internationally for its desertlike sand dunes, stunning sunsets, and excellent surfing and bodyboarding conditions. It has been featured in a number of television series and motion pictures, including a 2013 episode of the series Top Gear. Once a year, the beach hosts an annual five-day fishing competition, attracting competitors and spectators from around the world to catch snapper and native species such as the tuatua shellfish.

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3.Tawharanui Regional Park

Tawharanui Regional Park
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Tawharanui Regional Park is a remote beach near Kawau Island located on a peninsula that juts into the Pacific Ocean, known as one of the premeire swimming and surfing beaches in New Zealand's Auckland region. The park's present-day lands were occupied by indigenous tribes prior to New Zealand's colonization and, until the 1870s, were the home of a Te Kawerau tribe known as the Ngati Raupo. Today, the park serves as an important ecological site and a protected breeding area for New Zealand dotterel birds. More than 50 species of fish populate its barrier reefs, along with a large lobster population and frequent visits from dolphins and orcas in the area. Beachgoers can watch for wildlife or hike on trails that wind through the park and surrounding forest to reach striking views at the highest point of the peninsula.

Bledisloe House, Level 7, 24 Wellesley Street, Auckland 1010, Phone: +64-93-07-92-79

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4.Piha Beach

Piha Beach
© Sunreal/

Piha Beach is a famed surfing beach located along the western coastline of New Zealand's North Island, known for its unique black sand and high waves. The strong currents at the beach can make water conditions dangerous for less experienced swimmers, though the area is patrolled by lifeguards throughout the summer and safe swimming areas are marked off with flags. Still, the beach's notorious safety conditions have made it the subject of a New Zealand reality show known as Piha Rescue, which followed beach lifeguards throughout their daily routines for 14 seasons. Beachgoers can take surfing lessons from a number of area shops or learn the art of abseil rock climbing from tour guides. A beachside cafe provides food and drinks, which can be consumed at the cafe or as part of shoreline picnics.

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5.Te Whanganui-A-Hei

Te Whanganui-A-Hei

Te Whanganui-A-Hei, also known as Cathedral Cove, is a spacious beach, marine reserve, and bustling tourist spot in New Zealand, attracting more than 150,000 visitors to its coastline each year. The beach is home to a large and distinct natural rock formation archway that has has been a filming location for many popular pieces of media, including the feature film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' music video for "Can't Hold Us." Its shoreline is shaded by pohutukawa trees and serves as a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Clear and calm water conditions make the beach an ideal spot for snorkelers and scuba divers to observe marine life.

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6.Mount Maunganui

Mount Maunganui
© Aerometrex/

Mount Maunganui, commonly referred to as The Mount, is a popular Bay of Plenty spot often ranked among the best beaches in the world, renowned for its white sand and prime surf conditions. Beachgoers can ascend the top of the Mount, an extinct volcano that rises more than 760 feet above sea level and offers unparalleled views of the surrounding bay region. The beach is known as an excellent spot for swimming and sunbathing, home to a variety of diving and dolphin-watching excursion companies, golf courses, and big game fishing charters. Nearby in the town of Mount Maunganui, visitors can shop and dine at a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and boutiques or attend events such as the Gourmet Night Market, which showcases foods and goods from local farmers and producers.

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7.Wharariki Beach

Wharariki Beach
© Julian Peters Photos/

Wharariki Beach is located west of Cape Farewell on New Zealand's South Island, known internationally for its large cliffs and sand dunes, interesting cave formations, and blustery high wind gusts. The remote beach is only accessible via a walking trail which begins at Wharariki Road and extends for more than 20 minutes before reaching the coastline. Its is perhaps most renowned for its unique Archway Islands formation, which have been featured as the default lock screen image for Microsoft's Windows 10 software program. Visitors should note that the best time to explore this beach is during low tide, as its landscape changes dramatically with tide conditions, making it almost inaccessible at high tide.

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8.Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park
© PiLensPhoto/

Abel Tasman National Park is a beach and wilderness reserve located on New Zealand's South Island, best known for its long and lovely coastline hiking trail, the Abel Tasman Coast Track. The beach and its surrounding park are home to an abundance of native New Zealand wildlife, including fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, wild pigs, and little blue penguins. It is noted for its unique terrain, which includes sections of sandy beachfront, unmodified estuaries, and rock formations. The park's lands were originally inhabited by an indigenous Maori tribe known as Ngati-Tu-mata-kokiri, who thrived in the area until the arrival of European colonizers in the mid-19th century. Though the area was used for logging and granite mining throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was preserved in 1942 to prevent further environmental damage.

South Island 7183, New Zealand, Phone: +64-35-46-93-39

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9.Awaroa Beach

Awaroa Beach
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Awaroa Beach is a small beach opened to the public by crowdfunding efforts in 2016, when local residents joined together to make the spot publically accessible and prevent its sale to developers. The beach is located within the grounds of Abel Tasman National Park and is typically accessed on foot or via boat ride. The beach's waters remain brilliant blue and unpolluted today, attracting legions of beachgoers looking to escape tourist crowds. Though the beach is renowned as a secluded and quiet natural getaway, visitors should note that no amenities have been developed on the site as of yet, including concession stands or campgrounds.

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10.Hokitika Beach

Hokitika Beach
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Hokitika Beach is a charming beach located within the town of Hokitika along New Zealand's western coast, serving as a popular spot for local residents and international tourists alike. Though families frequent the beach's beautiful coastline and gorgeous blue waters, visitors should note that no lifeguards are staffed on duty throughout the summer. Swimmers are advised to exercise caution at high tide, when drops in the ocean floor may be difficult to spot. The beach is considered to be a prime spot for fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, and dogwalking, with a motor camp located nearby within the town of Hokitika. Though the beach itself offers little in the way of visitor amenities, many services, shops, and restaurants are located nearby within the town center, catering to beach tourists throughout the season.

72 Beach St, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand

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11.Koekohe Beach

Koekohe Beach
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Koekohe Beach is a gorgeous beach located on New Zealand's Otago coast, home to the famed Moeraki Boulders, a group of large spherical rocks that are the result of shoreline erosion. The boulders, which are estimated to have taken up to four million years to form, are one of the most popular attractions in the area and are often photographed due to their unique size and striking array of colors, including blue and green layers. The beach itself is equally stunning, offering brilliant tan sands and unique surf conditions that reflects the colors of the sky above, often taking on pastel shades such as pink at sunset. Beachgoers can observe seas lions in their natural habitats, explore the beach's historic lighthouse, or simply relax and sunbathe along its beautiful shores.

Moeraki Boulders Rd, Hampden 9482, New Zealand

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12.Mission Bay

Mission Bay
© Simon/

Mission Bay is a popular beach resort and suburb of Auckland city, home to the vibrant Kepa Bush Reserve, which is located along the banks of Purewa Creek and preserves a wide variety of native bird species. The town's public beachfront is a great destination for families, who enjoy its pohutukawa tree-shaded sands, calm and safe swimming waters, and large children's playground. A highlight of the town of Mission Bay is the Trevor Moss Davis Memorial Fountain, which is cast in bronze and depicts three sea monsters, presenting daily water show with dancing waters shooting far into the air and lights highlighting the water's movements at night. A scenic main promenade runs from the center of town to the beach, lined with lively shops, restaurants, and bars.

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13.Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach
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Hot Water Beach a popular geothermal tourism destination that is located along the Mercury Bay of New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula, known nationally for its natural hot water pools fed by two underground springs. During a four-hour window around low tide, visitors can dig their own hot water pools in the sand, with natural water temperatures reaching up to 147 degrees Fahrenheit. This unique experience attracts more than 700,000 visitors a year and is often considered to be one of New Zealand's most unique tourist attractions. The beach is not recommended for swimming, though its waters are popular with surfers. Visitors should note that the beach's waves and undercurrents can become dangerous quickly and should exercise caution even at low tide times.

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14.Ngarunui Beach

Ngarunui Beach
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Ngarunui Beach, also referred to as Wainui Beach, Ocean Beach, or Main Beach, is located in the town of Raglan and is renowned for its black sand and high wave swell conditions. The beach is a popular spot for surfing and surf lessons throughout the summer months, with lifeguards staffed on duty at peak times to patrol for swimmer safety. Additional assistance is provided on weekends by the Trust Waikato Surf Life Saving Club, with a flag system utilized to designate safe swimming areas. Above the beachfront area, the Wainui Reserve offers day-use picnic tables, observation areas, walking trails, and sculptures, with restrooms accessible for beachgoers. Though the beach's access trail is typically easy to navigate, visitors should exercise caution on its trail during spring high tide times.

Wainui Rd, Raglan 3297, New Zealand, Phone: +64-21-35-22-17

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15.Okiwi Bay

Okiwi Bay
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Okiwi Bay is a lovely public beach located along the west coast of the Marlborough Sounds, serving as a popular spot for campers and families looking to fish, hike, boat, or simply kick back and relax along the beautiful Tasman Bay coastline. The laid-back bay area offers a wide variety of standard and electric campsite hookups and quaint vacation rental homes, with docking available for boats at its waterfront area. Visitors can fish and dive from aboard their own boats or as part of several charter tour options offered by companies in the area. Nearby in the bay's virgin native forest, visitors can embark on bush walks or birdwatch for a number of native species.

West End, Kaikoura 7300, Phone: +64-33-19-56-41

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15 Best New Zealand Beaches

More Ideas: Lake Taupo

Located in the Northern island of New Zealand is the geological hotspot of Lake Taupo, which is unique for its hot springs and for its array of adventures. The area is an outdoor playground filled with a luscious naturist background, it attracts visitors from around the world and is an especially popular destination for backpackers. With countless things to do, both the lake and the surrounding town of Taupo welcomes visitors to enjoy its beauty.

There is a rich geological history behind the area of Taupo, which begins with a super volcanic eruption that accrued approximately 26,000 years ago. Since then the volcano has erupted 28 times and formed a caldera, which eventually filled with water. Now the volcano is considered to be dormant and considered to be the reason for the hot springs along the shore of Lake Taupo.

The lake is a starting point for many adventures and visitors are able to enjoy a wide variety of activities while being surrounded by the beautiful scenery. As a hub for water sports such as water-skiing, sailing, kayaking, boating, and swimming it is a relaxing place to enjoy and is especially popular because of its warm geothermal water currents. Surrounding the large body of water there are many hiking and mountain biking trails to explore. However, the area encompassing Lake Taupo is home to some very unique features of Craters of the Moon, the Maori rock carvings, the natural hot pools, and the Huka Falls. In the 1950s the northern part of Taupo began to become hot and produce steam, from the surge of heat coming from below the surface of the ground created a geothermal phenomena of boiling mud craters. Craters of the Moon is such a unique site to see, which draws many visitors who stroll along the wooden walkways to marvel at the steam pockets. There are many viewing platforms on the edge of craters that overlook the fiery core as clouds of steam swirl around, which acts as a natural health spa therapy. To experience a cultural aspect of Lake Taupo, in the cliffs near Mine Bay there are rock carving etched into the walls of the rock that were drawn in the late 1970s to pay tribute to the first inhabitants of New Zealand, the Maori people. These carvings can only be seen from the water and visitors can take a boat trip or participate on a kayaking excursion to see them. On the lakefront are many different streams that are naturally heated mineral pools. The various thermal springs are very popular and Spa Park has hot water flowing into the Waikato River, which creates relaxing pools with steam misting from them. The most visited natural attraction in New Zealand is the Huka Falls, and these cascades roar over rocks quickly creating a stunning effect to admire. From many trails and viewpoints the swirling water streaming down this natural phenomena can be enjoyed. Visitors of all ages can explore and experience the gorgeous scenery of Lake Taupo and the surrounding areas.

Lake Taupo is not only a natural haven; it is also home to different events and attractions that provide a cultural backdrop to the Taupo area. Some of the things that draw visitors to the quaint town are the artistic background, and the variety of boutique stores, cafes, and restaurants. To experience art, annually Graffiato is held in the town center and it is a street art festival that showcases a wide variety of bold, bright, and unique art. It brings together some of the world’s best street artists who transform the walls in the town and create a vibrant artistic vide in Taupo through murals. There are also many art galleries, sculptures, and cultural art exhibitions throughout the area. The town is an arts and cultural haven in New Zealand and the Taupo Museum is a great place to view many cultural exhibitions. The stunning area of Taupo is a popular location for weekend getaways because of its tranquil mountainous backdrop and its diversity of outdoors activities. Within the town of Taupo, which is situated around a bay, there is a selection of restaurants, bars, and cafes that overlook the waterfront. There are many quirky cafes that are set in alternative buildings such as a café in an old plumbing store, which add character. The inviting streets are bustling with boutique stores that encourage visitors to relax in the town on their vacations.

More Things to Do in New Zealand

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More Ideas: Chatham Islands

Chatham Islands are located east of New Zealand and is home to the Moriori people who are indigenous to the islands and Maori people who are indigenous to New Zealand. Chatham Islands are the perfect destination for those wanting to go off the beaten path, enjoy long stretches of deserted beaches, and beautiful, untouched wilderness.


The Chatham Islands are found 800 kilometers off the East coast of New Zealand and were formed by volcanic activity 65 million years ago. These islands are the smallest region of New Zealand with a population of only around 600 people most of whom are local. The island is populated by the indigenous Moriori and Maori people and descendants of the first European settlers.

Most of the people on the island rely on fishing, farming, livestock, and tourism for their economic wellbeing. While most homes have internet and telephone access, there is no cellular phone reception on the islands.

The Chatham Islands were some of the last islands to be settled in the Pacific. The first settlers came from the Polynesian Islands to the North and those people evolved in an isolated population to become the Moriori. European Naval Lieutenant William Broughton discovered the Chatham's in 1791 and a small settlement was established in the early 1800's. A few decades later, two groups of Maori people from New Zealand and established homes on the islands that they call Wharekauri. These three groups of people, although distinct in their own cultures, make up the Chatham islanders.

Natural Landscape

The Chatham Islands sits atop of volcanic peaks and features what remains of lowland forests, mixed with agricultural land, many recreational lakes, beaches, and flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world.

The natural landscape of most interest to visitors and tourists are the peat bogs, volcanic outcrops, lagoons, beaches, and sand dunes. Other notable features of the island include:

- Basalt Columns- 85 million years ago, ocean volcanoes began to erupt and formed basalt columns. These exposures of volcanoes can be seen at Ohira Bay but are on private land that requires advance permission to visit.

- Seal Colony- New Zealand Fur Seals, native to the region, gather in abundance at the Seal Colony. Leopard Seals, Sea Lions, and Elephant Seals can also be seen throughout the Chatham Islands. This area is also on private property, but tours can be arranged through your host.

- Birding- People come from all over the world to see the variety of bird life on Chatham Islands. The Black Robin was recently brought back from extinction and there are several birds on the islands that are found only in this region included The Chatham Island Red-Crowned Parakeets and Chatham Island Warblers.

- Plant Life- There are nearly 400 species of flowering plants and ferns that are native to The Chatham Islands which have the largest number of endemic plants in the region. So far there are 34 flowering species and 1 fern that are endemic to The Chatham Islands; however, there are as many as 15 others than may also be endemic.

Things to Do on The Chatham Islands

The Chatham Islands are known for their perseveration of cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples. Most visitors come to the historic islands to see historic sites and access the lagoons, beaches, and hiking trails.

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Historical and Cultural Sightseeing- Guides are available throughout the islands that take visitors to cultural and historical sites. These guides are local and usually descended from the first peoples of the islands. Sightseeing opportunities include:

- Early Maori Settlements

- Ancient petroglyphs and dendroglyphs

- Tommy Solomon Memorial (Last known pure blood Moriori)

- Remnants of early European settlements from England and Germany

- Historic sealing and whaling stations

- Moriori Settlements

Nunuku's Cave- Located on a private island in the Chatham's, Nunuku's cave can be found on the western bank of the Te Whanga Lagoon. Inside the cave are ancient limestone Moriori carvings. Around the lagoon are limestone cliffs made of shell deposits from more than 40 million years ago.

Rakau Momori (Moriori Tree Carvings)- Along all but the south coast of Chatham Islands and also on Pitt Island, visitors can see dendroglyphs, or tree carvings. These carvings were traditionally done on Kopi trees with most being persevered in the J.M. Barker National Historic Reserve. The majority of the carvings depict people although some show fish, while others are abstract.

The Tommy Solomon Memorial- The life-sized statue of the last known full blooded Moriori, Tommy Solomon is a favorite to take pictures with for visitors. Tommy was a sheep farmer on the islands and lead an active life in politics and island society. The larger than life man was over 6 feet tall and just over 300 pounds when he died of pneumonia in 1933.

Chatham Islands Museum- The museum operated by the Island Council highlights a wide array of Moriori and Maori tools, relics, artifacts, and documents. The replica of a dinosaur found on the island can be see in the museum as well as photographs and educational exhibits about the early days on the islands.

Walking Trails- Chatham Islands has numerous walking trails that are easily accessible so that most people can sight see at their own pace without crowds.

-Waitangi Bay Beach- accessible during any tide and season, this is a great beach for bird watching, and catching oysters.

-Thomas Mohi Tuuta Scenic Reserve and Cliffs- This reserve is managed by the department of conservation and feature cliff trails that highlight a view of Pitt Island and Pinnacle Islands.

-Ocean Mail Scenic Reserve- This wetland is a peat dome reserve with trails offering beach and ocean views and is located just 6km from Kaingaroa Village. Visitors should be cautious of eroding dune edges.

-Henga Scenic Reserve- Visitors can take a long loop walk through kopi groves and visit ancient limestone outcrops and see the sand dune flora that Chatham Islands are famous for.

- J.M. Barker National Historic Reserve-Home to the famous Moriori tree carvings, this bush walk can be completed in 10 minutes and is located nearby the Kaingaroa Village.

-Nikau Bush Conservation Area- 19 hectares of lowlands where broadleaf forests are in the process of regenerating. This walk is quiet and peaceful, featuring tropical palm trees, and is especially beautiful in the December-January blooming season.

Hunting and Fishing- The Chatham Islands are a popular destination for hunters and fishermen. Wild pics, sheep and cattle are often hunted across both of the main islands. The islands are also known for their crayfish hunting which is often said to be the best in the world. There is also great Blue Cod, Hapuka, and Paua fishing. Lobster fishing is also popular; however, rock lobster season is closed March and April to ensure sustainable commercial fishing.

Private Tourism Activities- There are many places across the islands that offer tourist activities. Many of the citizens on the island work as guides and instructors. Some activities often available on the island include:

- Surfing

- Guided Cultural Tours

- Garden Tours

- Morae Visits

- Fishing

- Beachcombing

- Cafes

- Artists

- Chartered boats

- Chartered fishing

- Swimming

- Pitty Island ferries

- Diving

- Snorkeling

- Horseback Riding

- Shopping


There are several options for accommodations on The Chatham Islands, however, these rooms fill quickly. The Islands are known for being quiet, peaceful, and uncrowded, so visitors will not find many chain hotels. Instead, the Island features a bed and breakfast, homestay, 1 hotel, three rental homes, a motel, and 11 rural rentals, and well as a few self-service rentals.

More Places to Visit in New Zealand

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