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If you like beaches and the lifestyle that goes with them, then you're going to love New Zealand.

One of the greatest things about being an island nation is that New Zealand is literally surrounded by beautiful beaches – more than 15,000 km of them, in fact.

New Zealanders are famously laid-back, and the closer you get to the coast, the more chilled-out things become. With all of our major cities situated right on the water, it’s a pretty awesome place to live and visit.

Beaches in New Zealand are extremely diverse and, broadly speaking, can be characterised into two different types – whether they are situated on the East Coast or the West Coast of the country. The coastline along the East Coast is typically white sand and mellow waves; while the pounding Tasman Sea of the West Coast makes beaches on this side of the country somewhat wilder, with black sand. Typically, the further south you go on either coast, the less populated and more remote the beaches become.

Take to the water in a kayak, or hire a board and head to one of the major surfing regions in New Zealand. Or, head out for some fishing – there’s many companies that can get you out on the water and reeling in snapper, kahawai, blue cod and crayfish in a matter of minutes.

If you love coastline and the activities that go with it, you’ll love New Zealand. Check out some of the country’s best beaches in the list below.

New Zealand’s best beaches

Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty 

Less than two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Auckland lies the buzzing surf town of Mount Maunganui, where a white sand beach stretches as far as the eye can see. Enjoy the swimming, surfing and cafes here.

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Northland & Bay of Islands
Paihia, Northland & Bay of Islands

By Adventure Films

Home to 144 islands and hundreds of untouched white-sand beaches, Northland’s Bay of Islands – a three-hour drive north of Auckland - is a must-see for those that love the sand and sea.

Bay of Islands, Northland

Home to 144 islands and hundreds of untouched white-sand beaches, Northland’s Bay of Islands – a three-hour drive north of Auckland - is a must-see for those that love the sand and sea. Take a boat cruise to see the best islands.

Tawharanui, Auckland

Located in the middle of a regional park an hours’ drive north of Auckland, Tawharanui is the perfect day trip if you’re staying in the city. Two small, secluded bays make up the beach, each with small rocky headlands that are perfect for exploring. If there’s an easterly swell the surf can be good here too.

Hamilton - Waikato
Raglan, Hamilton - Waikato

By Chris McLennan

Raglan is famous for its perfect and consistent left-hand surf break - hire a board and see for yourself

Raglan, Hamilton-Waikato

Perched on the edge of a beautifully scenic stretch of rugged coastline is Raglan, a beach famous for its left-hand surf break and quirky, creative town.  Raglan is a one-and-a-half hours’ drive south of Auckland on the West Coast.

Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson

Perched at the far north of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park glitters with perfect beaches. There’s spectacular hiking and kayaking on offer here – look out for dolphins and fur seals frolicking just off the coast.

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

By David Wall

The Coromandel is home to Cathedral Cove, a tunnel carved by the sea leading to a perfect beach.

The Coromandel

Where do local kiwis go for their fix of stunning white-sand beaches? The Coromandel Peninsula, that’s where.  A two-hour drive south of Auckland, The Coromandel is home to everything from awesome surf to secluded coves and hot water beaches. Bliss.

Piha, Auckland

Only 30 minutes west from Auckland CBD is the beautifully rugged beach of Piha. The surf can be big here so always swim between the flags, or choose to explore the rainforest behind the  where you’ll find lush native bush and secret waterfalls.