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High Five… New Zealand’s Beaches!

What do you think of when you think of New Zealand? Mountains? Beautiful green landscapes? Lord of the Rings? Let me stop you right there. There’s so much more to New Zealand than greenery and hobbits. Take the amazing beaches, for example.

Yeah, that’s right, beaches! In New Zealand! Not only are they plentiful, they’re also totally awesome. And they deserve a massive HIGH FIVE!

From hot and sandy on the North Island to those on the edge of a luscious forest in the South, we’re counting down five of our favourite beaches in the land next to the land Down Under.


5 of the best beaches in New Zealand

Of course, before you can get to the beaches, you’ve got to get to New Zealand. Guess what? We can get you there! Hurrah! Check out our cheap flights to New Zealand.

Land yourself in Hot Water

Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsular isn’t just a beach. Au contraire, it’s your own personal spa, dahling. For an hour either side of low tide, you can dig into the sand for hot spring water and make your own little spa pool. Luxury on a budget – every backpacker’s dream! It’s a great place to stop off at on a tour of the North Island.

Get active

Head to Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island and you can combine a trek along the park’s famous Coast Track with some serious beach action, in the form of Golden Bay and Tasman Bay. Sea kayaking, sailing and mountain biking are high on the list of things to do here – not for the feint hearted (or just plain lazy). Our hop-on hop-off buses stop off at Abel Tasman, making its beaches really accessible.

Surf’s up!

Australia doesn’t have the authority on surfing, dude. Head to Ngarunui (that’s Nga-roo-noo-ee) Beach in Raglan, and you’ll discover the perfect surfing beach. If you’re not already an accomplished wave rider, it’s a great place to spend a few days and learn to surf.

The clue’s (not) in the name

OK, I’m going to level with you. Ninety-Mile Beach at Cape Reinga is not ninety miles long. It’s actually 55 miles long (gasp!) The name isn’t a total lie, though – Ninety-Mile Beach is definitely a beach, and a rather spectacular beach at that. It’s home to some pretty impressive sand dunes, which make great bodyboarding slopes. Cars aren’t allowed on the sand; the best way to reach the beach is on a hop-on hop-off bus.

Yellow eyed mullets

Staying in Wellington? A day trip to Waikanae Beach on the Kapiti Coast is a must. Why not grab a campervan and make a road trip out of it? Here’s a little gem, fact fans: Waikanae is Māori for “the waters of the yellow eyed mullet”. That’s mullets as in fish, not the 80s hairdo, people.


Have you visited any of New Zealand’s amazing beaches? Let us know your favourites in the comments thread below. If you fancy visiting any of the beaches we’ve mentioned above, have a word with one of our Travel Experts.
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Showing 24 Comments

  1. Hot Water Beach was okay but Cathedral Cove not far away was much more rewarding.

    The beach was a lot more secluded and it was a nice walk along the pathway from the car park with ferns growing either side.

    Abel Tasman is beautiful and would recommend doing one of the walks along the coastline.

    937 days ago
  2. That’s good to know, Paul, because I’ll be there in about [looks at watch] 48 hours!

    937 days ago
  3. Ann Black

    Ninety mile beach is my favourite. Visited it and sledged down the sand dunes.. What a fabulous experience for someone the tender age of 62. The hardest bit for me was climbing to the top. Cape Reinga I will never forget on a beautiful summer afternoon. Coming from densely populated Europe the emptiness was absolutely magic. It was for me the other end of the world. An experience to treasure.

    937 days ago
    • Wow – what an inspiring experience, thanks for sharing, Ann!

      936 days ago
  4. Elizabeth Louch

    I couldn’t agree more, I went to the top 4 and they are all gorgeous in their own different way!! ……cathedral cove is a must tho for defo!

    937 days ago
  5. Sara

    I went for a midnight trip to Hot Water Beach, I would absolutely recommend going at night, it’s glorious to wallow in a hot pool in the cooler night air, and there are no crowds like in the daytime!

    935 days ago
  6. Zara Kingsbury

    What about the rest of the South Island apart from Abel Tasman?? There are stunning, if somewhat cooler and more blustery, beaches on the Catlin’s Coast with amazing wildlife like sea lions, seals and penguins right there to stumble across if you’re not careful.

    And what about those on beautiful Stewart Island too? Kiwi spotting tours on the beach in the dark anyone?

    935 days ago
    • Thanks for the tips, Zara! Kiwi spotting tours sound amazing.

      930 days ago
  7. Chris Wellington

    I lived in Hahei in the Coromandel Peninsula which has an absolutely stunning beach, Hahei is also the gateway to the beautiful Cathedral Cove which like Paul said is more rewarding than Hot Water Beach and the walk there offers awesome views and a nice trek through bush. Midnight is definitely the time to visit Hot Water Beach armed with some candles and beers as the crowds are always horrendous in the daytime

    929 days ago
    • Great tip, Chris. Another fantastic way to journey to Cathedral Cove is by kayak. The guides are fantastic, and give you a real insight into the Marine Park (if you’re lucky, they’ll even whip you up a latte while you’re exploring Cathedral Cove!)

      886 days ago
  8. Lauren

    Matakana island beach is my favourite of all the beautiful new zealand beaches… 20kms of perfect white sand, beautiful views and no one else to ruin it!! Sorry guys, you’ll have to know someone who knows someone to get there!!

    887 days ago
    • Ahem… do you know anyone Lauren?

      886 days ago
      • Lauren

        Yeah, I lived in Mount Maunganui which is right by it, you can paddle across from the mount but mind out for them big ol’ tanker ships!!

        882 days ago
    • David

      I live in the UK where I have been since 2000 (married and settled etc) and know Matakana Island beach really well, it’s awesome. Had a fab new years there in 1990 age 17….magic. Enjoy New Zealand it is a great country.

      883 days ago
  9. David

    If you can get to Napier (westshore beach) on the east coast. Napier (Hawkes Bay) is awesome. Had many an Easter and Christmas there. Enjoy!! Lake Taupo is fab too.

    883 days ago
    • Great shouts, David — Napier is a great place to spend a few days.

      862 days ago
  10. Philip

    I live about 1 minutes walk from Westshore Beach here in Ahuriri, Napier, Hawke’s Bay – home to about 70 world class wineries – its a lovely area and the surf-casting from the beach can be great – no sand though unlike the fabulous beaches near Mahia farther north in the beautiful Hawke’s Bay

    883 days ago
  11. Tracy

    I lived in Napier, Hawkes Bay for a year. (Live in U.K.) The beaches I visited were all beautiful. Loved the place too, and the people!

    867 days ago
  12. Angela

    my grandparents retired to Raglan so we visited often and lived there for a while…my other grandparents had a bach up at Omapere on the way to Cape Reinga which Ive ended up with…check it out, Omapere is a very lovely beach too. Cathedral Cove and Coromandel are my sisters and best friends hangouts…so looks like we have a bit of all the best!

    863 days ago
    • Very jealous that you have all five of the beaches in your day-to-day life, Angela!

      862 days ago
  13. tricia

    check out beaches in northland- matapouri is wonderful, sandy bay and wooleys are great for surfing. .

    863 days ago
  14. Lynne M-S

    Re Napier – travel north as if heading to Gissie, and turn in to the coast at Tongopis Beach. It used to be a whale boiling station (2 centuries ago) and has really challlenging surf.

    Or Try “the Gap” at Castlepoint Beach (Wairarapa) for death defying challenges surfing ona rough day – miss the feef’s gap on your way back in, or misjudge the wave direction and get your skin scraped on the limestone reef.

    Both these beaches have their calm “family picnic” days, where the surfing is mild and the fishing’s good. Climb Castlepoint’s reef up to the lighthouse, and look out over the Pacific, and you might see whales, porpoises, dolphins… mighty sight! But Don’t walk along the low reef – Pacific waves have been known to rise up and wash people off – either into the lagoon (from where they can be rescued) or back out to the open sea (where they disappear). From the officially safe walkway you can see how rough the low reef is.

    Thrill seeker place!

    826 days ago
    • Lynne M-S

      Correcting a typo ( no Edit function )

      The line should read…

      “travel north as if heading to Gissie, and turn in to the coast at Tongoio Beach. ”

      Sorry ’bout that.

      826 days ago
  15. Dave Wilmshurst

    It was nice to revisit New Zealand through your comments. We visited most of the places mentioned and I agreed with some, not others. Travelled as a family for 4months. 1 Abel Tasman esp in a 2man kayak 2 North tip of Corromandel 3 Catlins for wild walks an wildlife 4 West Coast for stunning sunsets 5Raglan for epic surf. To us 90 mile beach was an impressive huge sand dune.

    626 days ago

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