Top 10 New Zealand Beaches

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stunning new zealand beach

New Zealand is home to the most beautiful beaches in the world

New Zealand has a lot of beach. More than 15,000 kilometres’ worth of beach, in fact. Yes, New Zealand might be a small island nation right at the bottom of the world, but our clear waters, warm water temperature and pristine coastline regularly position us in the top 10 places to visit in the world. If you’re heading to New Zealand with the intention of seeing hobbits, kiwis and Peter Jackson, make enduring the long-haul flight to Aotearoa easier by picturing our top 10 New Zealand beaches in your minds. You won’t regret it.

1. Whale Bay, Northland

Whale Bay Northland
Whale Bay

Whale Bay in Northland (not to be confused with the other beach in Raglan, on New Zealand’s stunningly rugged west coast) is one of those gems that is not as well known as some of it’s larger counterparts but pacts a huge punch in terms of it’s beauty.  To get to the beach it’s about a 30 min roundtrip from the car park which also helps add to the atmosphere when you arrive on the golden sands. This beach is a must see, it’s that simple and why it’s number 1 in our books.

2. New Chum’s Beach, Coromandel

new chums beach coromandel
New Chums beach

If you’re after the kind of beach that you only ever see in the movies, you need to make the effort to visit New Chum’s Beach on the Coromandel. Once you get to the carpark, it takes 30 minutes to walk there, but it’s one of the most stunning hidden beaches in New Zealand so the walk is worth it. Once you’re there, you’ll enjoy golden sand and no crowds – because it takes a bit of effort to get there, you probably won’t see too many people. Plus it’s very safe to swim at so that’s a great reward after your exercise.

3. Taupo Bay, Northland

Taupo Bay Northland
Taupo Bay

Taupo Bay is a stunning hidden beach about 30 minutes north of Kerikeri in Northland. Safe to swim at and enjoying a fairly warm water temperature, Taupo Bay is a favourite among holiday-makers over summer. Book a bach (a villa or holiday home) right on the beach, or set up a tent in the fully-equipped camping ground. Close to the Bay of Islands and Kaitaia, Taupo Bay is the perfect spot for camping with the whole family – plus New Zealand’s best fish and chips are just 20 minutes’ drive away in Mangonui! And if you’re lucky, you might see a whale or some dolphins swim by, on their way to the Bay of Islands.

4. Ninety Mile Beach, Northland

Ninety Mile Beach
Ninety Mile Beach

Famous for featuring in Top Gear in 2013, Ninety Mile Beach is actually only 55 miles long (90km) and runs along the west coast of the northern-most tip of New Zealand. Characterised by massive sand dunes, Ninety Mile Beach is a special place for the Maori (New Zealand’s native people) as well as a favourite among adventure-lovers. Although it’s a beach, it’s also recognised as a public road which explains why you’ll possibly see a big bus or two on the sand while you’re there. For a truly memorable trip, book a four-wheel-drive adventure or slide down the sand dunes on a boogie board. Just remember you’ll need to walk back up to the top.

5. Hot Water Beach, Coromandel

Hot Water beach
Hot Water beach

As the name suggests, Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach has hot water … but not in the way you might expect. At low tide every day, crowds of people flock to one spot of Hot Water Beach to dig holes in the sand. These holes become spa pools because a natural hot water spring bubbles out of the ground directly below the sand. The water is naturally warm, and in some spots actually boils! Remember to take a spade so you can dig your hole, and wear togs (swimsuits) that you don’t mind getting dirty. Also, it pays to check what time low tide is, then get there early. In summer, hundreds of people visit Hot Water Beach, and it’s sometimes hard to find a spot to dig your spa pool!

6. Ohope Beach, Bay of Plenty

Ohope Beach
Ohope Beach

Famous for its white sand and views of White Island, a live volcano that regularly erupts steam, Ohope Beach is a favourite among families and surfers alike. 11 kilometres of pristine white sands plus loads of bush walks make Ohope a beautiful spot to visit particularly in summer.

7. Wainui Beach, Gisborne

Wainui Beach
Wainui Beach

One of the first beaches in New Zealand to catch the sunrise, Wainui Beach is just out from the seaside town of Gisborne. Most famous for its surfing, Wainui Beach offers golden sands, pristine water and stunning views of New Zealand’s east coast.

8. Ocean Beach, Hawkes Bay

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach

If you’re after solitude in one of the most stunning and isolated spots in New Zealand, Ocean Beach is the place. Near Hastings and Havelock North, Ocean Beach’s golden sand and predictable surf is popular with surfers and holidaymakers alike. Be careful when you swim there because the waves can be quite rough, however over summer Ocean Beach is home to lifeguards who will take good care of you.

9. Kaiteriteri Beach, Abel Tasman

Kaiteriteri Beach
Kaiteriteri Beach

Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand, Kaiteriteri Beach is famous for its golden sands and clear turquoise waters. Right at the top of the South Island, Kaiteriteri Beach is inside the Abel Tasman National Park. See the best of Abel Tasman from the water by hiring a kayak and paddling around the coastline, or taking a boat cruise. It’s safe to swim at Kaiteriteri Beach, the water temperature is warm, plus if you’re lucky you might see a pod of dolphins on their way to the Marlborough Sounds.

10. Kaikoura Beach, Kaikoura

Kaikoura Beach
Kaikoura Beach

If you’re visiting New Zealand specifically to see whales, make sure you head to Kaikoura. Most famous for its whales and dolphins, Kaikoura is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Book a spot on a boat tour that will take you out from the coastline and into whale and dolphin territory. Whales and dolphins are seen at Kaikoura most of the year, and many boats companies offer money-back guarantees.

Bonus – The 5 Best Beaches near Auckland

We always like to give you a bit more extra here at Natural South so we thought we might slip in a bonus top 5 list of the best beaches near New Zealand’s largest city – Auckland.

  1. Takapuna Beach

    Takapuna Beach on the North Shore is one of the safest beaches in Auckland to swim at. With lots of cafes and ice cream shops nearby, it’s a favourite with families too. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, take the coastal Takapuna to Milford walk around the rocks. If you’re lucky you might spy a giant’s chair or a giraffe on your way.

  2. Piha

    If you’re after rugged and wild, Piha has it all. Home to the famous Lion Rock and black sand, Piha is a favourite with surfers and hikers. There are lifeguards at Piha, but it is a surf beach that can get quite dangerous, so do be careful when swimming and always swim between the flags.

  3. Onetangi, Waiheke Island

    While you’re in Auckland, make sure you take a ferry trip out to Waiheke Island where you’ve discover some of New Zealand’s best vineyards like Mudbrick, walking tracks and of course beaches. Onetangi Beach is on the northern side of Waiheke, enjoys warm water temperatures and is very safe to swim at.

  4. Karekare Beach

    Karekare Beach is most famous for being the set of Jane Campion’s The Piano, starring a very young Anna Paquin. Near Auckland, Karekare is on the wild west coast so it’s important to be careful while swimming. And if you choose not to swim, there’s plenty of other things to do including bush walks and sightseeing.

  5. Te Arai, Mangawhai

    If you’ve got a bit of extra time, take a drive about 60 minutes north of Auckland to the hidden beach called Te Arai. Near Mangawhai, Te Arai is an unspoilt paradise on the east coast. A favourite with surfers, Te Arai does not have lifeguards patrolling the beach, even in summer, and it can be very dangerous so be careful. The scenery is incredible, though, so take a paddle in the water as you walk along the white sandy beach with pine forest on one side and turquoise ocean on the other. The roads to get there are unpaved so make sure you drive carefully.

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