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. Sleep under the stars in the nearby 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).

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

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3. Anchor Bay, Tāwharanui Regional Park

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

4. Piha Beach, Auckland

One of Auckland's wild west coast beachesPiha is known for its black sand, big waves and 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. 

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5. Cathedral Cove, The Coromandel

A must-do when in New Zealand, you can get to Cathedral Cove 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.

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6. Mt Maunganui, Bay of Plenty

The chilled-out surf town, shortened to "The Mount" by locals, 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 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.

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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. 

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