New Zealand's best beaches

Ask any Kiwi where their favourite beach is, and they'll all have a different answer. From north to south, here's a few of the many, many stunning beaches.

1. Maitai Bay, Northland

Maitai Bay's clean, clear water and soft white sand make it the ultimate summer escape for many Kiwis every year. Swim, snorkel, kayak or simply relax on this remote Northland beach. Or for a short break from the beach, visit New Zealand's northernmost vineyard and winery Karikari Estate(opens in new window) and try out some of their wines from Chardonnay to Syrah.

For the outdoor lovers, sleep under the stars at the Maitai Bay campsite(opens in new window), where the only thing obscuring your view will be the beautiful pohutukawa trees (otherwise known as the New Zealand Christmas tree). If you're after something a little lusher, check in at Carrington Estate(opens in new window), a luxurious 3000-acre estate on the pristine and picturesque Karikari Peninsula.

2. Ninety Mile Beach, Northland

If you're feeling a bit more energetic, head to Ninety Mile Beach for some bodyboarding, horseriding, blokarting or surfcasting. Officially a highway, the beach is only suitable for 4WD so catch a coach tour from Kaitaia or Paihia

With plenty of accommodation options around, you can stay the night and get even more out of the beach! Rarawa Beach campsite(opens in new window) is about 30 minutes drive away or for somewhere a little closer, stay at Hukatere Lodge(opens in new window) - a secluded eco-accommodation that is power and water self-sufficient, nestled on the west coast of the Aupouri Peninsula in the Far North of New Zealand. 

Did you know? Ninety Mile Beach is actually around 55 miles (88km) long!

3. Tāwharanui Regional Park, Auckland

Often called Auckland's best-kept secret, Tāwharanui Regional Park located at the end of a long gravel road, about 90 kilometres from central Auckland. Get here and you'll be rewarded with some of the country's most beautiful white sand, wildlife, walking tracks and rock pools to explore. Bring your tent and stay the night at Tāwharanui campground(opens in new window).

Be sure to check out Sculptureum(opens in new window), only a 15-minute drive from the regional park. Garden, gallery and restaurant all wrapped into one, it makes for an exciting visit. If you're travelling over the weekend, make sure to also stop by the Farmers' market in Matakana(opens in new window) that takes place every Saturday.

4. Piha Beach, Auckland

One of Auckland's wild west coast beachesPiha is known for its black sand, big waves and the formidable Lion Rock - an island in the sea. Only an hour from the city, enjoy a picnic on the warm sand while watching experienced surfers tackle the thundering waves. There are also several walks around the area that take you through native forest in the surrounding hills and make sure you check out the beautiful Kitekite Falls.

Explore Auckland's west coast

5. Cathedral Cove, The Coromandel

A must-visit when in New Zealand, Cathedral Cove is accessible by boat, kayak or walking. Take a photo under the stunning, naturally-formed archway before finding a shaded spot for a picnic on the golden sand. If you have time, stop off at another favourite, Hot Water Beach, just 10 minutes drive away.

Explore the Coromandel

6. Maunganui Beach, Bay of Plenty

By the chilled-out surf town, shortened to "The Mount" by locals, Maunganui Beach is the perfect place to unwind in the sunshine. The main beach is consistently voted New Zealand's best for its surf, beachside cafes and seemingly never-ending white sand. Put on your walking shoes and head up Mauao (Mount Maunganui) for a spectacular view of the peninsula.

7. Wharariki Beach, Nelson Tasman

At the other end of the spectrum, is the rugged, remote and wild Wharariki Beach. Perched on the northern-most tip of the South Island, you need to walk across rolling pastures just to get there. Once there, you'll find wildlife, caves, rockpools and huge sand dunes. The best way to explore? On horseback(opens in new window).

8. Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson Tasman

There are too many stunning beaches in Nelson Tasman to choose just one. Head to the popular Anchorage Bay for golden sand and beachside camping, visit the beach "New Zealand bought" — Awaroa Beach(opens in new window) — or swim in the turquoise water of Torrent Bay. To truly get away from it all, kayak to Observation Beach and camp(opens in new window) by the water.

Did you know? Also known as the 'People's Beach', Kiwis purchased Awaroa Beach in a crowd-funding campaign.

9. Hokitika Beach, West Coast

Hokitika, so full of history, is the only West Coast town located on the beach. It might be wet and wild but you're sure to get a good sunset photo here. Go in summer to see the Driftwood and Sand Festival(opens in new window), where locals create art from materials found on the beach. 

10. Koekohe Beach, Waitaki

There's no better reason to visit Koehoe Beach than to skip along giant rock formations, carved out about 65 million years ago. Each of the Moeraki Boulders, scattered across the sand, weigh several tonnes and are up to two metres high. 

Did you know? There are over 50 boulders along Koekohe Beach.

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