The North Island of New Zealand is a paradise for beaches, boating and every kind of adventure in between. You'll start with the black sand of Auckland's west coast before taking a circuit through Northland that includes the gorgeous beaches of Bay of Islands, right up to Cape Reinga at the tip of the country, where two oceans meet.
Set between two harbours, Auckland is a city of beaches. Enjoy fish and chips on Mission Bay Beach, a popular spot for Auckland locals, or cross the Harbour Bridge to Takapuna Beach where native Pohutukawa trees grow to the sand’s edge. A visit to Auckland’s West Coast beaches is a must-do. These wild beaches are quite a contrast to beaches on the east coast, with their black sand and pumping surf. Climb Lion Rock at Piha and watch the surfers riding the waves below.
For a good day trip or overnight excursion take the ferry out to Waiheke Island and chill out at Onetangi Beach or enjoy yourself at one of Waiheke’s many vineyards.
Northland is a relaxing place, full of friendly people and stunning beaches. Head up the east coast to the Bay of Islands, where you can visit Tutukaka to dive the sub-tropical Poor Knights Islands or revel in the white sand of Matapouri Bay.
Paihia is a good spot to spend the night, as it’s the gateway to the Russell area and close to all the top attractions. A popular choice is a boat trip out to the famous Hole in the Rock. Alternatively, hire a kayak and explore the islands for yourself. In Paihia, thrillseekers can skydive and land right on the beach.
Continue north from Paihia past more glorious beach spots and along a narrowing splinter of land to Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean at the very top of New Zealand. From here, it isn't far to Ninety Mile Beach where you can sandboard down the giant Te Paki sand dunes or ride quad bikes and blokarts along the beach. Ahipara makes a good base for the night.
On your way back to Auckland, you’ll pass through Waipoua Forest, home to the largest kauri trees in the world. Spend a night in Opononi if you need a break from the road, and for one final bit of fun north of Auckland, try snorkelling at Goat Island Marine Reserve.
It’s off to the Coromandel Peninsula for the next couple of days, a popular holiday spot stacked with beautiful beaches. Coromandel Town is a great place to take a fishing charter out on the bay or scoot around the coast to the beachside town of Whitianga, known for its famous annual Scallop Festival.
The next day, get your swimsuits on and dig your own personal hot pool in the sand at Hot Water Beach, or get out on the water in the stunningly clear waters of Cathedral Cove with a guided kayak tour. If you have the time, you can also swing past Whangamata and try stand-up paddleboarding.
Spending a couple of days in the chilled surf town of Raglan is the perfect way to wrap up your beach holiday. This place buzzes with creativity and a laidback vibe. Spend your time exploring the beautiful coastal scenery, or hire a surfboard and hit the waves. Manu Bay is said to have the longest left-hand break in the world, and it’s a great place to learn.
Ocean Beach, with its black sand, is a relaxing spot for lunch and a swim, or walk to the Bridal Veil Falls, off the Pakoka River. From Raglan, you’ll make your way back to Auckland and the end of your journey.
Spend in a night in Hamilton before heading on to Raglan.