New Zealand is known as ‘The land of the long white cloud’ but it could just as easily be known as ‘The land of awesome beaches’ with 15,000km of coastline to boast. Suffice to say, you’ll have plenty to choose from but below are some of the best to prioritise during your stay!
Gillespie Beach – West Coast
Gillespie Beach is no ordinary beach, mostly because of its extraordinary views of the Southern Alps when facing the shore. As a historic mining settlement, there are some great tracks to explore and a seal colony to add to the excitement amongst its diverse wildlife. A good one for the trampers, but there’s plenty for all to enjoy, and a campsite for those seeking an extended visit.
Hot Water Beach – Coromandel
One of the more unique beach experiences, Hot Water Beach delivers on its name due to the underground hot springs that exist under the beach. Low tide is the best time to take advantage of this geothermal marvel where visitors can dig pools in the sand, sit, relax and enjoy the hot water pool (with temperatures of up to 64°C) that forms around them. A popular spot at any time of the year and not to be missed!
Karekare Beach – Auckland
The landmark location for arguably one of New Zealand’s greatest films, Karekare Beach became world-famous after the success of The Piano, Jane Campion’s academy award-winning film in which it featured heavily. There’s a magical aura to this West Coast beach which is why it’s been so prevalent on screen. The rich black sands, the amazing sunsets, the surrounding wilderness all contribute to creating a natural harmony few others can rival.
Koekohe Beach – near Dunedin
Koekohe Beach makes our list for its renowned Moeraki Boulders, an Instagram favourite for those visiting the East Coast of the South Island. The Moeraki Boulders are famed for their unusually large, spherical shapes (up to 2.2 meters in diameter, weighing several tonnes each) and are estimated to be over 4 million years old. Maori legend says the boulders are the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe. These days children enjoy hopping from one to the other, whilst couples choose to sit atop and look out to the beautiful horizon towards the sea.
New Chums Beach – Coromandel
The Coromandel Peninsula is blessed with many beautiful beaches that could justifiably sit on this list but our favourite is New Chums Beach, one of the most untouched and undeveloped beaches in the country. There are no roads, no buildings, no camping, no infrastructure, just the beautiful white sands and the native bush that surround it. The Observer, National Geographic and Lonely Planet have all cited it for its unspoilt qualities. A pristine place of peace to get away from it all.
Ngarunui Beach – Raglan
Ngarunui Beach is the main beach of Raglan, a small coastal community town 50km west of Hamilton. The area itself is a surfer’s paradise and much of what goes on here revolves around surfing. There is a surfing school where you can hire gear and take lessons, and a surf patrol club who’ll make sure you don’t get into too much trouble in the water. There are also picnic spots, lookout points, sculptures and walking trails for those less inclined to catch the next big wave.
Ninety Mile Beach – Northland
The iconic ‘Ninety Mile Beach’ (actually 55 miles long) runs from the west of Kaitaia towards Cape Reinga and is the sixth longest beach in the world. It is also officially recognised as a public highway. As a major tourist destination, many are drawn to its endless views of the coast, its famous northern dunes and world class surf breaks. It received global attention when Jeremy Clarkson raced a Toyota Corolla down the beach in an episode of Top Gear. Ordinary folk, however, stick to a gentle stroll or enjoy one of the coach tours that offers rides along the shoreline.
Onetangi – Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island isn’t short of a few nice beaches, but the one we’ve picked for this blog is Onetangi, Waiheke’s largest and longest beach at around 1.87km. With beautiful white sands, Onetangi is a great place to bring the family and has strong community involvement, home to the famous Onetangi Beach Races where locals and visitors can watch horses and their jockeys race down the beach. For the more free-spirited, the western end is clothes-optional.
Piha – Auckland
Another of Auckland’s iconic West Coast beaches is Piha, easily New Zealand’s most famous surf beach. The surf at Piha is powerful and not to be taken lightly. Unsuspecting and unprepared swimmers and surfers often find themselves in a spot of bother to the extent that a reality TV show named ‘Piha Rescue’ was created to capture all the rescues by the Piha Surf Life Saving Club lifeguards. Mishaps aside, it’s a great stretch of beach which has the impressive Lion Rock guarding its shore, and also has a nice scenic walk to Kitekite Falls.
Wharariki Beach – near Nelson
On the northwestern coast of the South Island you’ll find Wharariki Beach, one of the least developed but scenically dramatic beaches in the country. One of the main reasons for this is the presence of the Archway Islands, a group of four rock stacks with a craggy appearance just off the coast that often get featured in a variety of calendars every year. With caves, cliffs and sand dunes, there’s a host of other things to discover and explore too.
These are ten of our favourite beaches in New Zealand but we’d love to find out yours! Drop us a comment below or let us know on our Facebook page.