New Zealand’s Best Beaches Are Too Stunning for Words
Countless amazing beaches line the coasts of New Zealand. The island nation is known for its jaw-dropping stretches of sand, but knowing which ones to put on your itinerary can be tough for even the most choosy of beachgoers.
Whether you’re in search of a secluded gem or a well-known Instagram hotspot, we’ve compiled the best beaches for Kiwis and visitors alike. Here are 11 must-visit beaches across New Zealand.
Koekohe Beach, Otago Coast
The Moeraki Boulders appear to have been plopped on the South Island’s coast, but they’re actually rock formations that have been gradually exposed to Koekohe Beach through erosion. Formed around 60 million years ago, the circular stones are this beach’s hallmark, their presence a welcome interruption on Koekohe’s stretch of sand. In between sunbathing sessions, inspect the boulders’ funky surface patterns — the clumps of sediment form mesmerizing displays.
Rarawa Beach, Far North
Try to picture the whitest sand you’ve ever seen, then kick that up a notch. That’s what stepping onto Rarawa Beach in New Zealand’s Far North region looks like—so wearing sunglasses to combat the reflection off of its white silica sand comes highly recommended. When you’re not admiring the bright, soft stuff underfoot, cool off with a dip in the ocean or opt for swimming in the lagoon that forms at high tide. The country’s department of conservation offers camping on the beach, too.
Awaroa Beach, Abel Tasman National Park
Karekare Beach, Auckland
Surf’s up at Karekare beach, just 50 minutes outside of Auckland. Sizable waves and super-soft black sand make it a favorite among athletes and sunbathers alike. The spot, which is part of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, is beloved by filmmakers, too, and has been featured in works like “The Piano” and “Xena: Warrior Princess,” Those in need of some shade after a day in the sand should head inland to Kitekite Falls — a short hike through a coastal forest leads to the dramatic drop and swimming hole.
Ninety Mile Beach, Northland
Cathedral Cove, the Coromandel
The entirety of the Coromandel is incredibly scenic, but Cathedral Cove is surely the spot’s crown jewel. Though it’s only a 10-minute jaunt from Hot Water Beach, the cove feels worlds away. That’s partly because it’s only accessible on foot or by boat. Pick up the trail at the northern end of Hahei Beach, wind through sandy paths for about 45 minutes, then watch panoramic views of the cathedral-like arched rock unfold in front of you. The cherry on top? It’s only a two and a half-hour drive from Auckland.
Gillespies Beach, West Coast
Wharariki Beach, Nelson
Mount Maunganui Main Beach, Tauranga
Mount Maunganui Main Beach in a word? Breathtaking. Blue waters, green hills, and sandy stretches make for colorful contrasts. The place also quite popular, which means the busy atmosphere is consistently fun and lively. Cafes, restaurants, gift shops, and ice cream parlors line the street across from the beach, so a scoop of something sweet is never far away.
Hot Water Beach, the Coromandel
Maitai Bay, Northland
This portion of the Karikari peninsula has been compared to the beaches of Fiji, and for good reason. Its crystal-clear waters and shining white sand are nothing short of tropical. Not to mention it’s rimmed by sweet-smelling pohutukawa trees. There’s plenty to do, too, including camping, diving, snorkelling, swimming, birdwatching, and hiking.