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.
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.
2.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.
3.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
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.
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.
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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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.
8.Abel Tasman National Park
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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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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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
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
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.
13.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.
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
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
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: PhotoElite/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: philipbird123/stock.adobe.com