28 of the Most Beautiful New Zealand Beaches
Last Updated on August 15, 2022
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New Zealand is known for its incredible nature so it’s no wonder that the beaches in New Zealand are some of the most stunning beaches in the world.
New Zealand is beautiful and the best NZ beaches really showcase this beauty. From white sand to black sand every NZ beach is full of variety depending on which area you visit.
One thing I love about the beautiful New Zealand beaches is how empty and pristine they are.
There are also many great New Zealand coastal towns that are worth spending the day wandering through and enjoying the chill vibes.
If you compare the beaches of New Zealand to most European beaches you won’t find sun loungers or popup beach bars, it’s more of a relaxing vibe.
So, bring ya towel, a good picnic and lots of sunscreen! And don’t forget your camera to get lots of stunning pictures of New Zealand beaches!
You get very burnt very quickly in New Zealand as we have a hole in our ozone layer which means you are not protected as much as you should be!
So how many beaches in New Zealand can you visit during your next visit? Let’s find out the best ones below!
From the North Island to the South Island beaches here’s a collection of the best New Zealand beaches and why you should visit!
Table of Contents
28 of the Best Beaches in New Zealand to Visit!
Castlepoint is a unique NZ beach located within the Wairarapa. It’s been named one of the most beautiful New Zealand beaches for a good reason.
There’s not only a stunning beach but also a bay for the less confident swimmers as well as sand dunes and a lighthouse. This is a popular beach for the locals!
There are plenty of great properties to rent here too from classic NZ beach style to the more luxurious type of house.
There’s only one shop here where you can buy the essentials so make sure you stock up on anything extra before you come!
There’s also a golf course and great spots for fishing to keep the men entertained! Castlepoint is an extremely good New Zealand beach for fishing and diving.
Only a 15-minute drive away you can visit the Mataikona Rocks which are unique rock formations where you can find lots of rock pools.
Just outside of the centre of Castlepoint is a pub called The Whakataki where you can get a hot meal and a cold beer!
2. Onetahuti Beach
Suggested by Jones Around the World
New Zealand is a country that is absolutely filled to the brim with natural beauty, even though it’s a relatively small place!
It would honestly take years to explore everything the country has to offer, and that includes the hundreds of stunning NZ beaches.
While many of them aren’t typical “paradise” beaches like in Southeast Asia or the Maldives, the beaches in New Zealand are incredibly unique and offer heaps of adventurous activities.
During my time in New Zealand, one of the best things I go to explore were all the stunning beaches and coastlines found in the Abel Tasman National Park.
The highlight here was Onetahuti Beach! This is undoubtedly one of the best South Island beaches in New Zealand.
It’s super gorgeous, and I could have easily spent several days there enjoying the natural beauty while beach camping, kayaking, and hiking.
There was an awesome campsite to meet fellow travellers, decent facilities, and beautifully (cold) water! I wish I had more time there because my one day there was not enough!
If you’re planning a trip to the South Island of New Zealand, make sure you put this unique beach of New Zealand on your list! You’ll be really glad you did!
3. Kaikoura Beach
Suggested by Suzy Stories
Kaikoura Beach has some truly wonderful attributes which easily put it up there as one of the best beaches in New Zealand.
It’s hard to beat such dramatic and outstandingly beautiful views in all directions than in Kaikoura.
Not only are the vivid blue waves lapping over the black sands gorgeously serene, but the Kaikoura Ranges that flank the coastal town to the northeast offer a stunning backdrop.
For the best views, head to this NZ beach for sunrise as the golden rays wash over the ocean, and illuminate the mountains in the distance.
Famed for the local marine life, you can take a kayak trip out on the ocean to spot some friendly seals or playful dolphins.
For a really unique view of the beach, a whale watching helicopter ride over the peninsula will take your breath away!
On top of that, fishing, swimming, and family fun are all popular activities at Kaikoura Beach.
Being only a 2.5 hour drive from Christchurch Kaikoura is an ideal spot to pause on a road trip, and a chance to explore more of the east side of the island.
If you’re staying in Kaikoura, a visit to the beach just down the road from the main town is the perfect way to embrace all that’s special about the area.
This is one of the best New Zealand coastal towns, and absolutely worth its own visit.
4. Hahei Beach
Suggested by Destinationless Travel
It’s no secret that the Coromandel is famous for beautiful NZ beaches, and Hahei Beach is among these beauties! It is a long, white sandy beach located in Mercury Bay.
Because of its sheer size, even on the busiest of days the beach never feels crowded and you can always find your own space to relax.
One of the best things about Hahei Beach is its location and it is reached very easily with a car.
The beach is within the town of Hahei and there is a car park right next to sand (no walking or hiking required like many of the beaches in the Coromandel!).
In fact, getting to Hahei Beach is so easy that it can be something to do from Auckland on a day trip, requiring only 2.5 hours of driving each way!
However, chances are that you will love Hahei so much that you’ll want to spend more than just one day.
In the town of Hehei there is a campground, hotels, and many holiday houses to choose from to extend your stay.
You can keep yourself busy watching incredible sunsets, kayaking, and maybe even having a go at scuba diving!
And if you want venture out a bit, Hahei Beach is only a 15-minute drive the famous Hot Water Beach and also where you can start the walk to Cathedral Cove.
This is also one of the best beach towns to live in New Zealand and is at least worth a longer visit if you have the time.
5. Piha Beach
Suggested by Two Wandering Soles
Exploring the country’s many beaches is one of the best things to do in New Zealand; and with around 15,000 kilometers of coastline, you don’t have to venture far to find one.
Just a short 45-minute drive west from Auckland sits one of the best New Zealand beaches, Piha Beach and a small town that shares the name.
Even though Piha Beach is quite close to the country’s most populated city, it still retains a laidback vibe and is much more relaxed than Auckland’s bustling center. And with a population of just 600 people, it feels a world away!
With black sand and a rugged coastline, Piha beach is one of the top beaches in New Zealand for surfing.
But even if you don’t ride waves, Piha makes a great escape from the city as a day trip or a getaway spread over a couple of days.
Pack a picnic and watch the surfers catch waves, or try it for yourself. Wander through native rainforests to nearby Kitekite waterfall, and be sure to enjoy sunset from this west-facing beach.
Tip: Bring a bottle of NZ wine for an extra special evening!
Word to the wise: Use caution when swimming at Piha Beach. There are strong currents during some times of the year, so pay attention to the posted signs and respect the rules because they are there for a reason.
Piha is possibly the best beach in New Zealand for dogs, so it’s an ideal spot for the whole family to visit and even stay overnight.
If you plan to spend the night, the Piha Domain Campground is a good spot to park your campervan, as it’s just a short walk to the beach.
Plus, it’s right across the street from Piha Café, which serves up delicious, albeit somewhat expensive, food.
If you’re just looking for a snack, their coffee and caramel slice are a nice pick-me-up.
6. Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove is one of the most popular beaches in NZ and probably the most picturesque.
It’s located nearly at the tip of the coromandel, a region known for its some of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand and stunning locations.
To reach this beautiful beach of New Zealand you have to descend from the car park and along a walking track for around 1 hour.
You will then take the stairs which lead you down into the cove and then on the other side is a beach. When you reach the cove, you will see it was worth it.
With its beautiful beach and the famous cove where I’m sure you have seen many pictures, it’s a great place to relax. You can opt to chill on the beach or do some kayaking.
Side note: In the summer this New Zealand beach can get quite busy and the car park can get full very fast.
Come here early or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Make sure you also bring food and water with you as there are limited options nearby.
7. Maori Beach, Stewart Island
Suggested by Tales of a Bookpacker
Maori Beach is not only one of the top places to visit on Stewart Island it is also one of the best beaches in New Zealand owing to its secluded location, soft white sand and stunning surroundings.
The mission to get to Maori Beach means you have a good chance of having most of the beach to yourself and can pass the time by swimming, paua diving or even dolphin spotting on a good day.
The beach is only accessible by walking and is the first stop on the Rakiura Track, one of New Zealand’s great walks.
Firstly, a ferry will bring you from Bluff to Stewart Island where you can begin the track.
Two and a half hours hiking along picturesque coastline through native bush brings you to the Maori Beach campsite and a long stretch of white sand to be enjoyed all to yourself.
At night the area is known to be good for spotting kiwi and with 20,000 of them on the island your chances are better here than almost anywhere else in the country.
The campground can host six tents and has a toilet, water access and a shelter. After your stay in paradise, you can choose to walk back the way you came or continue for another two days to complete the Rakiura Track.
8. Waihora Bay, Lake Taupo
Suggested by Backpackers Wanderlust
Located on the South-Western Shores of the impressive Lake Taupo you will find the scheduled spot that is Waihora Bay. This crescent shaped spot is not the easiest to get to unfortunately.
Though, for those who are willing to put in the effort you will be rewarded with some of the most beautiful beaches New Zealand has to offer.
There are two main options to get here, bike or boat. Taking a boat is certainly the easiest and fastest option. Though it is understandable that not everyone has access to one.
That’s why we have the second option bike. The track is called the Great Lake Trail and it is one of the best for mountain bikers in New Zealand.
It is important that you plan and prepare accordingly for this as it is a 71-kilometre trail around the lake and takes between 1-2 days.
The track finishes in my personal favourite beach in Waihora Bay. The locals call this beach Honeymoon Bay and you will basically need their knowledge to find it as it is not marked on maps.
There are bathroom facilities here and it is a popular camping spot over the New Years period.
If you have biked here a local Taupo company called Chris Joly Outdoors regularly runs a boat shuttle service to collect bikers and bring them back to the main town.
Apart from some of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand, Waihora Bay is also home to numerous waterfalls.
These are feed by streams from the nearby National Park and plunge into the lake from the cliffs above.
Honeymoon Bay also has a waterfall which flows into a stream before entering the lake. This is just an easy 5-minute walk up the Great Lake Trail.
This quiet corner of Lake Taupo has plenty of hidden spots and beautiful NZ beaches. If you are an avid biker or have access to a boat, then it is highly worth a visit.
📦 PACKING TIP: Don’t leave home without a solar powered battery pack so you can keep your devices connected at all times.
9. Moeraki Beach
Suggested by Budget Travel Talk
Koekohe Beach lies South of the Victorian Heritage town of Oamaru and north of the scenic Otago Peninsula, on New Zealand’s South Island.
This is also one of the best beach towns in New Zealand, and it’s worth spending the day wandering around and relaxing here.
Otherwise known as Moeraki Beach, this contender for best New Zealand beach has an unusual natural feature.
Littering the beach are huge spherical boulders of mud and natural concrete, with diameters ranging from 0.5 to 2.2 metres.
Discarded like gigantic playthings and stranded in varying stages of disintegration, the biggest took nearly 5.5 million years to form. Some appear pristine while others lay cracked open on the beach.
It is common for boulders to be wrapped in deep geometric cracks, attributed by Maori legend as fishing nets of the large sunken sailing canoe, the Arai-te-uru.
The boulders themselves are depicted in the legend as eel baskets washed ashore from the wreck.
Science says the boulders were formed millions of years ago on the ocean floor. Nowadays they lie hidden in the cliffs behind the beach waiting to be exposed by erosion.
Koekohe Beach can be enjoyed as part of a walk from the small fishing port of Moeraki, to the beach campground at Hampden some 8 km north.
On the walk, keep an eye on the surf for the small rare Hector’s dolphin who often make an appearance. Hector’s dolphins are 1.4 metres long and only found in New Zealand waters.
If you’re in the mood for a fun beach trip in NZ, you can’t go wrong with one of the best beaches in Otago region.
10. Oriental Bay
Suggested by Chur New Zealand
Oriental Bay is Wellington’s most popular beach, which isn’t surprising given its location, restaurants, and friendly conditions for swimming.
The golden sand of Oriental Parade may strike you as unusual for the inner city NZ beach, and you’d be right. But it’s one of the top New Zealand beach destinations.
It’s a manmade beach, with the sand bought over from Golden Bay in order to make it a desirable place to be (it is).
The location of this New Zealand beach is a massive win for visiting, and if you’re there on a nice day you’ll now understand what locals mean when they say “You can’t beat Wellington on a good day”.
There are several other popular NZ beaches around Wellington, but they tend to be more exposed to the weather (and the nasty southerly wind), compared to Oriental Bay Beach.
There aren’t any waves here, so it’s suitable for kids and for those who want, you can swim out to the wooden platoon one hundred metres or so offshore where you can do some mean as bombs (read this post about Kiwi slang).
There’s a fountain which adds to the scene too.
There are several restaurants on Oriental Parade with beach views (Beach Babylon is a favourite for locals).
There’s usually an ice cream truck nearby too. In addition to the walk-up Mount Victoria right behind the beach, this all adds up to Oriental Bay being a great place to spend a day in New Zealand.
If you’re in Wellington CBD, the best way to get there is by foot as there is limited parking available along Oriental Parade.
Once you reach the waterfront, keep walking west and you can’t miss it. The walk from Te Papa is also less than 15 minutes.
Alternatively, ride along the beachfront on the super fun Oriental Parade with the wide footpaths.
11. Gillespies Beach
Suggested by Bridges and Balloons
Gillespies Beach is one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever stayed, and easily one of the best New Zealand beaches.
Just a 25-minute drive from Fox Glacier, down a winding dirt track, it’s one of those hidden natural gems that makes travelling in New Zealand so special.
The NZ beach is home to a little campsite with room for both tents and camper vans.
The camper van campsite is more or less just a car park with toilets, but if you’re lucky enough to get a spot, it means you can say right next to the beach and go to sleep to the sound of the waves.
It’s a perfect sunset spot, and everyone staying there congregates on the beach at sundown, taking in the beautiful view.
And, when you turn your back on the sea, you can see Mount Cook and the surrounding mountains. It’s one of the most breathtaking sights we saw in New Zealand.
Gillespie Beach is 25 minutes’ from Fox Glacier town via an unsealed track, which is hard to navigate in a campervan (but worth it!).
Be warned that your car/van hire insurance might not cover driving on such a road. Read more about our New Zealand trip in our one-month New Zealand itinerary post.
This is one of my favourite New Zealand beaches because it is still so unknown. But that’s why it’s one of the best New Zealand beach destinations.
Not only does it have a stunning suggest coastline, but it’s one of the best black sand beaches in New Zealand.
Interestingly this beach has the most bulldozers per capita than any other place in the world.
Ngawi is a very popular fishing hub so you will see a lot of fishing boats and bulldozers to help pull the boats in and out.
But Ngawi is not only known for its beautiful NZ beaches but it’s also a film location for the movie The Lord of the Rings.
Not far from the beach is the Putangirua Pinnacles where some scenes from the movie were filmed. There’s a good hike you can do here and it’s a nice place to have a picnic.
Ngawi also has one of the biggest seal colonies in the North Island. You can find many seals and their babies here relaxing the sun and swimming in the sea! If you love seals, this is the perfect New Zealand beach for you!
A must-do is the walk up to the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. From the top, you get an incredible view of the region. On a clear day, you are supposed to see the tip of the South Island too!
13. Mt Maunganui Beach
Suggested by Backyard Travel Family
Mt Maunganui Beach is the NZ beach that has it all! It has beautiful clear clean water, soft white sand, great for sunbathing and for kids to play on.
The surfing here is good and is suitable for beginners to advanced. You can take lessons right on the beach and even hire a surfboard to give it a go yourself.
The water here is pretty warm for New Zealand beach conditions, unlike its icy counterparts in the South Island.
Perhaps the only downside is that it’s too good, and can get busy over the summer holidays and weekends. We love to visit during the week when it’s quiet.
Mt Maunganui is at the head of the peninsula and sits below “the Mount.” This walk is a must do for anyone to the region as the views from the top of the mount are just breathtaking.
The Summit track will take around 30-45 minutes to the top and you can return the same way, or down the other side to Pilot Bay.
The base track will take approximately an hour to walk leisurely around and is a relatively flat gravel trail. Don’t forget to say hello to the resident seal.
If the water conditions aren’t great at Mt Maunganui, 5 minutes on the other side of the peninsula is Pilot Bay.
This sheltered bay is perfect for paddleboarding and kayaking and a great alternative to the Main Beach. We love the atmosphere and buzz at Main Beach Mt Maunganui.
On top of a great beach picnic, there are great ice cream stores across the road, or linger in the evening to check out the laid back bars and restaurants, all within walking distance of the beach.
14. St. Clair Beach, Dunedin
Suggested by See the South Island
The area around Dunedin is home to dozens of beaches, but if you’re looking for a perfect slice of sand you don’t need to venture far from the city centre.
St Clair Beach, just a 10-minute drive from the Octagon (Dunedin’s version of a town square), is surely one of the best city beaches in NZ.
At the southern end of St Clair Beach you’ll find the Esplanade, a cool little area featuring some cafes and bars and places to sit and admire the views.
From there you can walk around to the St Clair Salt Water Pool and Second Beach.
St Clair Beach (which becomes St Kilda Beach somewhere along the way) is perfect for a stroll – either along the beach.
Through the dunes above the beach or along John Wilson Memorial Drive, where you’ll see awesome views of the beach as well as parts of suburban Dunedin.
Another notable feature of St Clair Beach is the pier (or remnants of a pier) which makes for some great photo opportunities.
There are also lots of other great NZ beaches nearby (walkable if you don’t have a car), including Tomahawk Beach and Smails Beach.
15. Kuaotunu, Coromandel
Suggested by Hannah Henderson Travel
Kuaotunu is a NZ beach in the Coromandel that I’d rather keep to myself! But it’s too beautiful not to share. Kuaotunu is on the east side of the Coromandel Peninsula.
Only 20 minutes’ drive from Whitianga, or 30 minutes from Coromandel township on the west coast. And only 3 hours’ drive from Auckland.
Kuaotunu beach is special for so many reasons. The long crescent of white sand never really feels overcrowded and therefore allows space for different beach activities.
There is plenty of room for swimming, surfing or fishing, and a convenient public toilet nearby.
The Kuaotunu Stream drains into the sea and creates a great child-safe area too. There are sand dunes that run along the back of the beach and provide shelter if it is a windy day.
These dunes are also important shorebird nesting areas, and you will see signs advising which areas are accessible during nesting season.
The added bonus in Kuaotunu is the amenities right next to the beach. A store, a fish & chip shop, a café; and Luke’s Kitchen, an amazing wood-fired pizza restaurant.
The site of many a wonderful family holiday, I hope you get a chance to visit Kuaotunu, it really is the gem of the coromandel, and one of the best New Zealand beaches!
Suggested by What’s Danny Doing
New Zealand beaches don’t get much better than Wharariki (pronounced ‘fah-ruh-ree-kee’) beach, on South Island.
It’s located right at the northernmost tip of the island, up past the Abel Tasman National Park and on to Farewell Spit.
Hit the end of the sealed road (you’ll see signs for Farewell Spit Café), and keep on going up the gravel track.
There’s a carpark at the end, from where a short walk separates you from your final destination: The unrivalled Wharariki beach.
On a windy day, it’s as wild and wonderful as it could possibly get. White sands whip relentlessly over the undulating dunes and flats of this incredible space.
Rocks rise in vaulted peaks in numerous places, providing welcome shelter from the sands. Stop for a while in the peace and quiet.
Look closely, and you’ll spot some seal families who’ve had exactly the same idea as you! These stunning animals hang out in the sheltered rock caves and crevices here throughout the year, resting on the rocks, swimming in the sea, and generally living the seal dream.
If you’re lucky there’ll be pups there too. They’re literally the cutest and coolest little balls of fur you’ll ever see!
Awkwardly shuffling and bundling over land, they come into their own in the shallow pools that litter Wharariki.
Watch them glide and gallivant through the crystal clear waters, showing off to their human spectators that inevitably gather around.
When the wind drops, a stunning calm descends over this NZ beach. Walk the endless expanse of glorious white sand down to the beach.
Head the opposite way to laugh, tumble and run down the rolling dunes, or lay your minimalist backpack down and simply sit, soaking up the sun, and revelling at this pristine, untouched kiwi beach before you.
This NZ beach is a truly unique experience, and unlike any other beach I’ve ever been on. I can’t recommend it enough.
17. Ninety Mile Beach
Suggested by Explore with Lora
90 Mile Beach on the North Island is a never-ending paradise of fun, and one of the best beaches in New Zealand.
And I do almost mean neverending as it’s the longest beach in New Zealand at 88 kilometers long!
It stretches from west of Kaitaia all along the coast to Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island. It’s not your typical tropical beach but has many features and activities that make it special.
The landscape around 90 Mile beach is incredible. Surrounding this New Zealand beach are massive sand dunes formed by the wind over many centuries.
You can rent bodyboards and go sliding down them which is so much fun! The beach is also bordered by the green Aupouri Forest, which provides a break from the hot sun.
It’s completely surreal to go from lush forest to what feels like the Sahara Desert in a matter of minutes.
Another cool feature about 90 Mile Beach is that it’s officially a highway so you can drive down the beach at low tide, just be sure to rent a 4×4 or you’ll get stuck!
After a day of fun at 90 Mile Beach, don’t forget to stay for the spectacular sunset that lights up the sky each night.
If you’re looking for the best North Island beaches, look no further!
18. Sandfly Bay
Suggested by Map Made Memories
Sandfly Bay on the Otago Peninsula in the South Island is one of my favourite New Zealand beaches in a country which is famous for its beautiful beaches!
Sandfly Bay is located on the east side of the Otago Peninsula and is an easy 15-kilometre drive from Dunedin.
The long, expansive beach is pristine; there are no buildings or car parks on or near this NZ beach.
You must park your car or campervan in the designated car park and walk the Sandfly Bay Track across fields and farmland to the start of the steeply sloping sand dunes which provide access to the beach.
These sheer sand dunes will test your legs and fitness levels on the climb back up to the track! The windswept beach feels remote, and when we visited, it was deserted.
Sandfly Bay is perfect for beachcombing; its huge piles of kelp kept our kids entertained for hours.
It is not uncommon to see yellow-eyed penguins or sea lions waddle ashore at Sandfly Bay and as we were leaving an enormous sea lion emerged from the sea showing great interest in us.
We quickly discovered how fast these large animals can move and that they are capable of climbing small sand dunes!
📸 PRO TIP: My go-to camera for all my travels is the Sony A7iii – I highly recommend it!
19. Ohope beach
Suggested by Le Long Weekend
New Zealand’s east coast is no stranger to incredible beaches and the long stretch of fine white sand that borders the small town of Ohope is no exception.
Running from Whakatane Heads through to Ohiwa Harbour, the 11km expanse of fine white sand is often cited as being New Zealand’s favourite beach.
Fortunately, this broad NZ beach has more than enough space to cater to the summer crowds and as such it never feels too busy.
The most western end of the beach is popular with surfers, while a little further east, closer the the town’s facilities, is more frequented by families.
Ohope beach is a popular NZ holiday spot and many of the beachside properties are available to hire if you want to extend your stay in this special part of the country.
You’ll find plenty of local attractions and activities nearby including surf schools, along with canoe, paddle, and surfboard hire.
For families, there are two large playgrounds for kids to enjoy between bouts of swimming.
Grab an ice cream, or the kiwi classic ‘fish & chips’ to have a picnic on the sand and enjoy a true NZ summer pastime. Or challenge yourself to the famous Toi Track for a more active adventure.
Time it right and you may even catch a glimpse of NZ’s native kiwi. But be warned you’re unlikely to see these nocturnal birds during daylight hours!
Suggested by A Backpackers Tale
Raglan is a tiny town famous for its volcanic and surfing beaches. This New Zealand seaside town, lying 30 miles west of Hamlation and is a relaxing place to take a couple beach days and recharge.
The most famous beach, among surfers, in the area is Manu Bay. This is one of the top beaches in NZ, and is famous world-wide among surfers.
This long New Zealand beach combines with one of the longest left hand breaks in the world.
Making it possible to ride waves for much longer than average. A guide told me that the record is seven minutes.
But Raglan appeals to more than just surfers. For non surfers – aka me – head next door to Ocean Beach.
This is a long black sand beach in New Zealand that is a perfect spot for swimming, sun bathing, or sunset walks.
However, what I really loved about this volcanic beach is that it isn’t packed. And even when others are on the beach it is so massive that everyone can spread out and you still have privacy.
Ocean Beach is also a good option for families traveling with kids. During the peak travel season lifeguards patrolling the area. Also the surf stays relatively calm.
Raglan is a great place to take a break traveling New Zealand from a road trip or bus tour of New Zealand. This lazy New Zealand seaside town is quiet and the volcanic NZ beaches are beautiful.
21. Queenstown Bay Beach
Suggested by A Lovely Planet
Queenstown is the adrenaline capital of New Zealand (if not the world), with every extreme sport you can imagine on offer. It’s also home to the beautiful Queenstown Bay Beach.
Situated on the stunning Lake Wakatipu, it’s a small sandy NZ beach, but perfectly situated to admire the incredible mountains surrounding Queenstown.
Nearby you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes and on the beach itself is a cute little café with great views of the beach and New Zealand’s longest lake.
It’s pretty cold, but a very refreshing swim, and if you’re not brave enough to get in, there are many other activities on and in the lake.
You can go jet boating, take a trip in a shark submarine, kayak, or take a boat trip.
There are plenty of things to do in Queenstown, but spending an afternoon at one of the best New Zealand beaches is easily one of my favourites.
22. Muriwai Beach
Suggested by So Many Places So Little Time
This rugged, windswept, black iron sand surf NZ beach with its high cliffs, sand dunes, and dramatic coastline is situated on Auckland’s west coast.
Muriwai Beach is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches in Auckland, and well worth a visit.
It stretches for 50 to 60 kilometres along the Tasman Sea coast and with its huge ocean swells and rolling breakers is well-loved by the local surfers.
However, surfing is not the only activity that draws people to Muriwai Beach.
Situated high up on the cliffs at the southern end of the beach are viewing platforms that give great views along the beach and out over the Tasman Sea, but also gives close up views of a large gannet colony.
The gannets weigh about two and a half kilos and have a wingspan of about two meters.
From August to March each year about 1200 pairs of gannets mate, nest (the nests are very close to each other) and have their chicks on these windswept clifftops.
From the easily accessed viewing platforms you can observe them going about their daily business. And smell them too! The chicks are usually on view in December and January.
Muriwai Beach is on Auckland’s west coast and a pleasant hour drive from the city through farmland, a couple of vineyards and small towns.
The last 15 minutes or so of the drive goes down to the beach through the native bush on a narrow and winding section of road.
Near the end of this road, opposite the local cafe is a road to the left that takes you up to the carpark. From the carpark are signposted walking tracks that lead to the viewing platforms.
There is no public transport so you will need to hire a car or book a tour to get to this enchanting NZ beach. Auckland I-site information center can help you with this.
23. Rangiputa Beach on the Kari Kari peninsula
Suggested by Phenomenal Globe
The Kari Kari Peninsula is located on the North Island. In fact, it’s only 100 kilometers from Cape Reinga which is the northernmost point of New Zealand.
There are many beautiful white sand NZ beaches on the Kari Kari peninsula, the most visited one is Maitai Bay while Puheke Beach is nice as well.
However, we preferred Rangiputa Beach. Why? Because it feels like a beach on a tropical island and we were the only ones there!
So if you’re after unique New Zealand tropical beaches, then look no further than the stunning Rangiputa Beach.
Rangiputa Beach was not just the prettiest but also the quietest beach we came across during our New Zealand road trip itinerary.
This lovely New Zealand beach faces westwards, you can see the mainland across the bay. The crystal-clear water is very shallow, so it’s well suited for families as well.
The beach is made up of soft white sand which continues underwater (so no snorkeling as there isn’t much to see).
You can easily spend a day here, because Rangiputa Beach is the perfect place to unwind, read a book or simply enjoy the views.
If you also want to get a bit active, there is a nice trail on the opposite side of the Peninsula. The Maitai Bay headland track takes about an hour and a half to complete, along the way you will have beautiful views of Maitai Bay and Waikato Bay.
To get to the beach, follow the Inland Road from State Highway 10 until you see a road called Rangiputa Road (just after a building with Bait Tackle in bold blue letters).
Now follow this road until the end and you can’t drive any further. Congratulations, you have arrived!
24. Orokawa Bay
Suggested by Wales to Wherever
Tucked away in a little inlet less than 1.5km walk from the popular, family-friendly Waihi Beach, you’d be forgiven for not realising Orokawa Bay, one of the most beautiful New Zealand beaches, is located there.
But if you’re looking for an abundance of natural beauty, seclusion and a peaceful escape from the crowds that descend on Waihi Beach in the summer, look no further than Orokowa Bay.
It’s pure golden sand and crystal-clear waters make it undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand’s North Island!
The kicker with Orokawa Bay is that, unlike some of New Zealand’s secluded coves, it’s only accessible by foot.
There is a 45-minute one-way hike, and during high-tide not even that is possible!
Starting at the northern end of Waihi Beach (there’s free parking available near the Surf Life post), you’ll find the beginning of the track clearly sign-posted.
If the sign isn’t there, just look for a slight incline towards the trees and follow the path.
Part of a beautiful 145-hectares scenic reserve, during your walk to Orokawa Bay not only will you find yourself facing the most incredible views of the surrounding area and the Pacific Ocean.
But at times you’ll be completely surrounded by dense, native bush. Kauri, puriri and pohutukawa are just some of the trees you’ll come across, as well as numerous native New Zealand birdlife.
The walk itself isn’t too tough, but the ground can get a bit loose so you should definitely wear appropriate shoes.
But pack your flip-flops in your daypack – trust me when I say they are not suitable for this walk!
The seafloor at Orokawa Bay is too steep to be considered safe for swimming, but the beach is the most wonderful place to enjoy a picnic and do a bit of sunbathing.
Be sure to pack everything you need if you plan on spending the day here – the only facilities this NZ beach has is a small (and stinky) drop toilet about 5 minutes from the end, and nowhere to refill water or stock up on snacks.
25. Hot water beach
Suggested by Why You Wander
While there are many popular New Zealand beaches in North Island New Zealand, Coromandel Hot water beach stands out because of its natural hot water spas on the beach.
Situated 168 kms from Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula is located between Tairua & Whitianga.
While it is also famous for surfing, hiking trails & trendy cafes, the unique thing about this place is the bubbling hot water through the sand next to the Pacific Ocean.
To make the most out of it, the most important thing is to check out the Tide timings as the best time to enjoy this is 2 hours before and after low tide.
You can carry your spades for digging out & creating your own hot water spa in the sand. How cool is that!
Spades are also available for hire in the beach cafes. There is no entry fee but the visitors are cautioned to keep the beach as pristine as possible.
Also since this place has the natural thermal activity happening, it is suggested not to swim if the tide is not suitable.
To get to this NZ beach, there are tours running to Coromandel from Auckland almost every day and if you are not driving that is the best option.
You can check out intercity buses which make frequent trips.
26. Whangamata Beach
Suggested by Where in the World is Nina
This just might be the best New Zealand beach because there’s a lot on offer here compared to other spots. A beach that has perfect sand and gorgeous waters is a given.
These two characteristics are pretty much a must for anyone to pack up their beach bag and get their toes in the sand at one of the any beaches in New Zealand.
But Whangamamta Beach offers up more than that with some of the best waves to be surfed in the country.
A consistent beach break that’s good for all levels and a bar that is for the experts means there’s surf for everyone to enjoy.
You’ll see a few people set up along the beach offering boards for rent (Around $30 for two hours), so it’s easy to come down for the day and catch waves in a matter of 10 minutes.
In addition to that, you’ll see some kayaks to rent down the way along the same beach (Around $60 for a double kayak for two hours).
Whangamata Beach is pretty long and just around the corner is the entrance for kayaks to paddle out to Donut Island (or Whenuakura Island), which is one of the best things to do in the Coromandel.
As you can imagine, the island resembles a donut because there’s a small lagoon on the inside of the island that’s encased by the rugged rocks that’s left over from a collapsed blowhole.
It’s an incredible experience but not for everyone, the paddle out there will be a bit challenging as the winds and chop of the ocean make it a bit more difficult.
You’ll also need to paddle through a very narrow cave opening with waves rushing in behind you so make sure you’re up for the adventure! This NZ beach will definitely be worth it.
27. Mission Bay
Suggested by Africa Wanderlust
Mission Bay Beach, a great tourist destination, lies at the north corner of Auckland City.
With mild temperatures all year round, you have the chance to enjoy this breathtakingly beautiful New Zealand beach anytime you wish. Mission Bay is not your average beach.
When you land foot on this NZ beach, you will see precisely why. It is a stretch of ~ 1 km of white sands and turquoise waters and a lot of trees canopies you can use as shade on those sunny days.
For the adventurists, you will love to know that the beach packed with summertime activities: events, restaurants, and live entertainment.
If you play your cards right, you can participate in the annual half marathon. There are other events at held at the beach, so many options that it is hard to keep track.
Mission Bay Beach is a great place to visit to relax or wind down since it has a lot of excellent places to eat and drink.
While you are there, be sure to grab some coffee, ice cream, or sorbet at one of the cafes and enjoy the New Zealand seaside experience from the indoors.
The best way to get to Mission Bay Beach from Auckland Central Business District (CBD) is by road; You can drive or use Public Transportation.
The drive is ~8 km and takes about 13 minutes whereas Public Transportation takes 17 minutes.
The Public Transportation fare is very reasonable, between $3.45 – $5.00 for an adult one way, and a reliable option if you do not want to deal with driving and finding a parking spot.
Now you know why Mission Bay is one of the best New Zealand beaches – seafront views, and plenty of restaurants.
While you are there, be sure to cap off your visit by laying on the beach, feeling the ocean breeze on your skin and admiring the fantastic sunset.
28. Te Pukatea Bay
Suggested by RoadGoat
Te Pukatea Bay beach in Abel Tasman National Park is a horseshoe-shaped stretch of beautiful golden sand that surrounds one of New Zealand’s most renowned landmarks.
Its iconic turquoise and green water, surrounded by the forested hills, offer a breath-taking view of New Zealand’s picturesque wilderness.
This isolated NZ beach isn’t often crowded by flurry of tourists, and instead offers quiet solace for you and your travel mates to take in the natural beauty of the beach.
You can walk-in through the beautiful trails of the Abel Tasman National Park to the beach site, or you can boat into Te Pukatea cove directly.
You can even spend the night over at the beach at the campsite behind the beach.
The best part about Te Pukatea Bay is not only its quiet, isolated site, but also the variety of sites you can walk to.
Because of its location within the famed national park, hiking along the Abel Tasman trail after some relaxation on the beach is a must-do for any adventurous travelers.
The wilderness trails offer sightseeing for some of the most exotic botanical species in the world, rendering a simple walk in the woods and beachside one of the most adventurous outings.
🗺 TOUR RECOMMENDATION: Looking to do a tour to discover the best of New Zealand? Join a Haka tour and see some of the most beautiful spots NZ has to offer!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! There are many NZ beaches that are perfectly safe – and fun! – to go swimming in.
Yes, there are sharks in New Zealand. However, you are unlikely to see one while swimming on the best NZ beaches. The sharks found off the beaches of New Zealand are deep sea creatures who rarely come to shallow shores. Many are also endangered species and are terrified of humans.
Not only are there many sandy beaches in New Zealand, but there are several gorgeous black sand beaches in New Zealand, as well!
There are over 100 beaches in New Zealand for you to explore, swim, watch the sunset and generally marvel at.
Have you visited any must-see beaches in New Zealand? What do you think is the most beautiful beach in New Zealand? Or Tell me below which New Zealand beaches that you would love to visit first?! Are there any amazing New Zealand beach destinations we missed?
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