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.
2.Ninety Mile Beach
3.Tawharanui Regional Park
8.Abel Tasman National Park
13.Hot Water Beach
15 Best New Zealand Beaches
- Maitai Bay, Photo: Anna/stock.adobe.com
- Ninety Mile Beach, Photo: Dmitry Pichugin/stock.adobe.com
- Tawharanui Regional Park, Photo: Patrik Stedrak/stock.adobe.com
- Piha Beach, Photo: Sunreal/stock.adobe.com
- Te Whanganui-A-Hei, Photo: romanslavik.com/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Maunganui, Photo: Aerometrex/stock.adobe.com
- Wharariki Beach, Photo: Julian Peters Photos/stock.adobe.com
- Abel Tasman National Park, Photo: PiLensPhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Awaroa Beach, Photo: Patrik Stedrak/stock.adobe.com
- Hokitika Beach, Photo: Patrik Stedrak/stock.adobe.com
- Koekohe Beach, Photo: ventura/stock.adobe.com
- Mission Bay, Photo: Simon/stock.adobe.com
- Hot Water Beach, Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/stock.adobe.com
- Ngarunui Beach, Photo: anastasiaras/stock.adobe.com
- Okiwi Bay, Photo: Natalia/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: philipbird123/stock.adobe.com
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.
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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.
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:
- Guided Cultural Tours
- Garden Tours
- Morae Visits
- Chartered boats
- Chartered fishing
- Pitty Island ferries
- Horseback Riding
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.
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