New Zealand has more than 9000miles of coast and hundreds of pristine beaches. From jagged, rocky shores to hidden black and white sands, turquoise lagoons to tumultuous surf, seaside natural hot springs to immense dunes, there’s a beach for every temperament in the land of the Kiwis. Whether it is adventure, relaxation, or wildlife you want, we will guide you to the best stretches of coast on both of New Zealand’s wild islands. Below is the list of top 10 beaches in New Zealand.
10. HOT WATER BEACH
Hot Water Beach is a beach on Mercury Bay on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand, approximately 12km south east of Whitianga, and approximately 175km from Auckland by car. Its name comes from underground hot springs which filter up through the sand between the high and low water tidal reaches. The beach is a popular destination both for locals and tourists visiting New Zealand. Annual visitor numbers have been estimated at 700,000, making it one of the most popular geothermal attractions in the Waikato Region.
Within two hours either side of low tide, it is possible to dig into the sand allowing hot water to escape to the surface forming a hot water pool. The water, with a temperature as hot as 64 °C (147 °F), filters up from two underground fissures located close to each other. These natural springs can be found on the beach opposite the off-shore rocks.
Visitors often dig large holes and relax and soak in the thermal water. Many visitors bring a spade and bucket with them. Spades can also be hired from the nearby surf shop.
9. NINETY NINE BEACH
Ninety Mile Beach (Official name Te-Oneroa-a-Tōhē/Ninety Mile Beach) is on the western coast of the far north of the North Island of New Zealand. It stretches from just west of Kaitaia towards Cape Reinga along the Aupouri Peninsula. It begins close to the headland of Reef Point, to the west of Ahipara Bay, sweeping briefly northeast before turning northwest for the majority of its length. It ends at Scott Point, 5 kilometres (3miles) south of Cape Maria van Diemen. The beach is actually just 88 kilometers (55 miles) long. In the days of sailing ships a number of vessels were wrecked on this beach.
The beach and its northern dunes are a tourist destination. The dunes, looking much like a desert landscape, are often used for bodyboarding. In 1932 the beach was used as the runway for some of the earliest airmail services between Australia and New Zealand. It is officially a public highway and sometimes used as an alternative road to State Highway 1 north of Kaitaia, though mainly for tourist reasons, or when the main road is closed due to landslides or floods.
8. PIHA BEACH
Piha is a coastal settlement on the western coast of the Auckland Region in New Zealand with a population of 600. It is one of the most popular beaches in the area and a major day-trip destination for Aucklanders throughout the year, and especially in summer.
Piha is 39km west of Auckland city centre, on the Tasman Sea coast to the north of the Manukau Harbour, on the western edge of the Waitakere Ranges. Immediately to the north of Piha is Whites Beach, and immediately to the south is Mercer Bay; land access to both is only by foot. The nearest beaches accessible by road are Karekare to the south, and Anawhata to the north.
Piha was the birthplace of New Zealand board riding in 1958, and has been the scene of both New Zealand national and international surfing championship competitions. Two Surf Lifesaving clubs provide surf patrols in summer. Piha Surf Life Saving Club, the home of the TV series Piha Rescue, patrols the section of the beach to the south of Lion Rock. United North Piha Lifeguard Service is responsible for the section of the beach north of Lion Rock. Both clubs provide patrolled areas designated by red and yellow flags as is the custom with Surf Lifesaving in New Zealand and many other countries.
7. MISSION BAY
Mission Bay is a seaside suburb of Auckland city, on the North Island of New Zealand, with a population of 5469. The suburb’s beach is a popular resort, located alongside Tamaki Drive. The area also has a wide range of eateries. Mission Bay is located 7km to the east of the city centre, on the southern shore of the Waitematā Harbour, between Orākei and Kohimarama. It covers an area of 1.08 km2 (267 acres), about three quarters of which comprises low hills, surrounding the remaining quarter, which slopes down to the sea. Local government of Mission Bay is the responsibility of the Orakei Local Board, which also includes the suburbs of Orākei, Kohimarama, StHeliers, Glendowie, St Johns, Meadowbank, Remuera and Ellerslie.
Mission Bay is blessed with golden sands, an expansive grassy area with plenty of picturesque Pohutukawa, New Zealand’s native “Christmas tree.” The trees are bedecked with oversized red blooms during summer. This is a great spot to grab an ice cream from the beachfront Mövenpick store and kick back for a little relaxation in the heart of the city.
6. KAITERITERI BEACH
Kaiteriteri is a town and seaside resort in the Tasman Region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is close to both Marahau, the main gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, and the township of Motueka. It is best known for its scenic beaches with Golden sand and the highest rate of sunshine hours in New Zealand. It has all the prerequisites for an idyllic seaside experience.
The gateway to magnificent Abel Tasman National Park, the beach is located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. From here you can hike the area’s well-known walking tracks, swim, sunbathe, enjoy a lunch of local seafood or hire a kayak to paddle around the many coves and lagoons that surround Kaiteriteri.
The golden color of the sand comes from a high quartz content, which produces a glittering, Midas-like effect. Penguins, seals and dolphins are common, so make sure your camera batteries are fully charged. A short drive from the Nelson Township and picturesque Motueka, Kaiteriteri is decidedly the best beach in the South Island.
5. WHALE BAY
A quiet and environmentally minded coastal community situated between Mount Karioi and the Ocean, Whale Bay is just five minutes’ drive south of Raglan.
The hills are covered with native trees, while the beach itself is world-renowned for its surf. The left-hand point break is a favorite of surfers. This is a great place to learn how to ride the waves, and there are plenty of surf schools in the area. Without guidance and tutelage, however, this isn’t a place for “grommets” or beginner surfers.
The laid-back surfer vibe has attracted plenty of organic food shops and restaurants, eco-resorts, massage studios and, of course, relaxed riders.
4. WAINUI BEACH
Wainui Beach is a small settlement on the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, located just to the north of Tuaheni Point, some 8km to the east of Gisborne, to which it is linked by State Highway 35. As of the 2006 New Zealand census, Wainui Beach had a usually resident population of 1,515.
It’s a huge beach, with everything you could possibly need for a day by the ocean – Car Parks, Idyllic Picnic Spots, Walking and Jogging tracks, Secluded spaces for sunbathing and easy put-ins for boats. The beach is popular with local surfers, as well as wedding parties.
The area near the Wainui Surf Lifesaving Club is good for families, while the walk to the picturesque Makorori Headland offers sweeping views of both Wainui and Makorori Beaches, as well as the Mahia Peninsula to the south.
3. KAREKARE BEACH
It is located 35km (22 miles) west of Auckland city centre, south of the larger beach of Piha. It is north of Whatipu, south of Piha and west of the Centennial Memorial Park and Water Catchment area, which cover most of the native bushland Waitakere Ranges.
Easily accessible from Auckland, Karekare was immortalized in the 1993 film “The Piano.” As seen in the movie, a grandiose sweep of black sand stretches as far as the eye can see, with bush-clad hills backing an isolated, wild beach.
Karekare tends to be less inundated with tourists than nearby Piha. If you prefer a quieter beach, this is the one for you. The water can be extremely rough and swimming only “between the flags” is advised.
Karekare is popular for its annual beach race day, in which local ponies and horses race to raise money for local causes. Beach race day is usually held in early April. Karekare is signposted off Piha Road.
2. MT. MAUNGANUI BEACH
Mount Maunganui is regarded by many to be a coastal resort town, although Port of Tauranga, a major facility, is also partly located on the western (harbour) side. It is also well known for the quality of its surfing conditions, though parts of the beach are notoriously dangerous. The harbour bridge was opened in 1988, linking Mount Maunganui with Tauranga. The construction of a duplication bridge was completed in December 2009, forming a vital link in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui’s growing motorway system.
Mount Maunganui also features the popular Bayfair Shopping Centre. The centre is one of the largest in the North Island outside Auckland and Wellington. It features New Zealand’s only Woolworths Supermarket, which was rebranded using the Australian Woolworths logo rather than rebranding to Countdown like all other Food town and Woolworths stores – due to the presence of a Countdown store in Bayfair already operating.
Mount Maunganui is a popular New Years destination, with over 20,000 people frequenting the suburb over the New Years period. Many festivities take place on and around the main beach in the north of the suburb. As part of the Port of Tauranga is located in Mount Maunganui, there are many cruise ship visits annually to the suburb.
1. NEW CHUMS BEACH
New Chums Beach is a beach in the Wainuiototo Bay on the northeast coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand, near Whangapoua.
The northeast-facing beach is accessible only by boat or via a 30-minute walk on a partly unformed track along the coast from the estuary at the northern end of Whangapoua Beach. New Chums Beach is flanked to the north by the 171 m tall Pukenui and to the southeast by the rocky Motuto Point rising to 85 m.
The hills behind the 1 km long idyllic white-sand beach are undeveloped and covered in native bush, adding to its unspoiled appeal. In 2006, New Chums Beach was named one of the top 20 deserted beaches in the world by Britain’s The Observer and highly rated by Lonely Planet and National Geographic.
Words such as “pristine” and “breathtaking” are bandied around in travel literature – at New Chums Beach, one of the best New Zealand beaches, they’re well-deserved.