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New Zealand’s 8 Best Beaches


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Liana Renfroe



New Zealand is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, and its pristine beaches are no exception. From the rugged black sands of the west coast to the golden shores of the east, New Zealand offers a diverse array of breathtaking beaches that cater to every type of beachgoer. Whether you're seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a picturesque spot to soak up the sun, New Zealand's beaches have something for everyone.


In this article, we'll take a closer look at eight of the best beaches in New Zealand, each offering its own unique charm and appeal. From iconic surf spots to hidden coves accessible only by foot, these beaches showcase the diverse beauty of New Zealand's coastline. So, grab your sunscreen, pack your beach towel, and join us on a virtual tour of New Zealand's most spectacular seaside destinations.


New Zealand's beaches are not only beloved by locals but also draw visitors from around the world. With their unspoiled natural beauty, these coastal gems are a testament to the country's commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable tourism. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a water sports aficionado, or simply someone who appreciates a good beach day, New Zealand's shores are sure to leave a lasting impression.


So, without further ado, let's dive into the turquoise waters, feel the soft sand between our toes, and discover what makes these eight beaches in New Zealand truly exceptional.


Piha Beach

Piha Beach, located on the western coast of the North Island, is a magnet for surfers and nature enthusiasts alike. This iconic black sand beach is framed by rugged cliffs and the famous Lion Rock, a natural landmark that offers stunning panoramic views of the coastline.


Surfing is a way of life at Piha Beach, with powerful waves drawing experienced surfers from near and far. The beach is also home to the Piha Surf Life Saving Club, which has been patrolling the waters and ensuring beachgoer safety for over a century.


For those seeking a leisurely day by the sea, Piha Beach offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and exploration. The nearby Waitakere Ranges provide a picturesque backdrop for coastal walks, and the cascading Karekare Falls are just a short drive away.


Visitors to Piha Beach can also witness the unique phenomenon of bioluminescent algae, which occasionally lights up the waves with an otherworldly blue glow after dark. This natural spectacle adds an extra touch of magic to an already enchanting beach experience.


Whether you’re catching a wave, strolling along the shoreline, or simply admiring the dramatic beauty of the surroundings, Piha Beach is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring New Zealand’s coastal wonders.


Cathedral Cove

Nestled on the Coromandel Peninsula of the North Island, Cathedral Cove is a pristine marine reserve renowned for its natural beauty and unique rock formations. Accessible only by foot, boat, or kayak, this secluded beach is a true hidden gem.


The journey to Cathedral Cove is as enchanting as the destination itself. Visitors can embark on a scenic coastal walk from the nearby town of Hahei, meandering through lush native bush and emerging onto the white sands of Cathedral Cove. The iconic natural archway, which gives the beach its name, stands as a testament to the awe-inspiring forces of nature.


Snorkeling and swimming in the crystal-clear waters reveal a vibrant underwater world, teeming with colorful marine life and thriving reefs. The marine reserve status ensures the preservation of this underwater paradise, making it a haven for both marine creatures and visitors seeking a tranquil aquatic experience.


For those seeking a touch of cinematic nostalgia, Cathedral Cove served as a filming location for the movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” adding to its allure as a place of otherworldly beauty.


Whether you’re exploring the hidden sea caves, basking in the sun on the pristine beach, or marveling at the natural archway that graces the shoreline, Cathedral Cove offers an unforgettable seaside escape that is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Ninety Mile Beach

Despite its name, Ninety Mile Beach is not actually 90 miles long, but rather a stunning stretch of coastline that extends for approximately 55 miles along the western coast of the Far North region of the North Island. This expansive beach is not only a natural wonder but also holds cultural significance for the Māori people, adding to its rich tapestry of history and beauty.


Ninety Mile Beach is a haven for adventure seekers, offering opportunities for thrilling activities such as sandboarding and quad biking on the dunes. The vast expanse of golden sand provides an ideal playground for these exhilarating pursuits, drawing visitors looking to add a dash of excitement to their beach experience.


For those seeking a more tranquil encounter with nature, the beach also presents opportunities for beachcombing, birdwatching, and simply taking in the awe-inspiring coastal vistas. The ever-changing tides and dune formations create a dynamic landscape that captivates the imagination and invites exploration.


At the southern end of Ninety Mile Beach lies the Aupouri Forest, where towering sand dunes meet lush greenery, offering a striking contrast of ecosystems that adds to the allure of the area. This unique blend of coastal and forest environments creates a diverse and captivating backdrop for visitors to immerse themselves in.


Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures on the dunes, a serene stroll along the expansive shoreline, or a glimpse into the cultural and natural heritage of the region, Ninety Mile Beach presents a multifaceted coastal experience that embodies the essence of New Zealand’s coastal diversity.


Hot Water Beach

Nestled on the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, Hot Water Beach is a geothermal marvel that offers a one-of-a-kind beach experience. Visitors flock to this unique destination to witness a natural phenomenon that allows them to dig their own hot pools in the sand, creating their own spa-like retreat amidst the coastal beauty.


The geothermal activity beneath the surface of Hot Water Beach results in hot water bubbling up through the sand at low tide, providing the perfect opportunity for beachgoers to create their own hot pools. Armed with shovels or simply using their hands, visitors can carve out their personal hot water springs, allowing them to relax and unwind in the soothing warmth while surrounded by the stunning coastal scenery.


Aside from the geothermal marvel, Hot Water Beach boasts pristine shores that are ideal for sunbathing, beachcombing, and leisurely strolls. The turquoise waters invite swimmers and bodyboarders to enjoy the refreshing sea, while the picturesque surroundings provide a tranquil backdrop for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.


For those interested in exploring beyond the beach, the nearby Hahei and Cathedral Cove offer additional opportunities for coastal adventures, making Hot Water Beach an ideal base for further exploration of the Coromandel’s natural wonders.


Whether you’re indulging in the therapeutic hot water springs, basking in the sun on the golden sands, or immersing yourself in the coastal beauty of the Coromandel Peninsula, Hot Water Beach offers a truly unique and rejuvenating beach experience that seamlessly blends natural marvels with seaside relaxation.


Wharariki Beach

Tucked away at the northern tip of the South Island, Wharariki Beach is a pristine coastal paradise that captivates visitors with its raw natural beauty and sense of seclusion. Accessible via a scenic walk through rolling farmland and coastal dunes, this remote beach offers a truly off-the-beaten-path experience.


Upon reaching Wharariki Beach, visitors are greeted by a mesmerizing expanse of golden sands, dramatic rock formations, and expansive sand dunes that create a sense of untouched wilderness. The iconic Archway Islands, standing as sentinels just offshore, add to the beach’s allure, providing a stunning backdrop for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.


Exploring the beach reveals a treasure trove of natural wonders, from sea caves and rock pools teeming with marine life to the resident seal colony that can often be spotted basking on the rocks or playing in the waves. The untamed beauty of Wharariki Beach offers a sense of tranquility and adventure, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a coastal escape off the tourist trail.


The surrounding landscape, with its windswept dunes and sweeping coastal vistas, invites visitors to immerse themselves in the rugged beauty of the South Island’s coastline. The nearby Farewell Spit, a natural sand spit that stretches into the Tasman Sea, provides an additional opportunity for exploration and birdwatching, adding to the allure of the area.


Whether you’re marveling at the natural rock formations, observing the resident wildlife, or simply reveling in the sense of isolation and natural splendor, Wharariki Beach offers a truly immersive and untamed coastal experience that showcases the unspoiled beauty of New Zealand’s southern shores.


Karekare Beach

Located on the west coast of the North Island, Karekare Beach is a rugged and untamed stretch of coastline that has captured the imagination of visitors and filmmakers alike. This iconic black sand beach, framed by imposing cliffs and lush native bush, offers a sense of wild beauty and tranquility that has made it a beloved destination for nature enthusiasts and beachgoers.


Karekare Beach’s dramatic landscape served as the filming location for the award-winning movie “The Piano,” adding to its allure as a place of cinematic beauty and artistic inspiration. The beach’s untamed beauty and sense of isolation create an evocative backdrop that has drawn artists, photographers, and nature lovers seeking to immerse themselves in its raw coastal charm.


The beach is also known for its powerful surf, making it a popular spot for experienced surfers looking to ride the waves and embrace the untamed energy of the sea. The towering cliffs and expansive sands provide an ideal setting for coastal walks and exploration, allowing visitors to connect with nature and revel in the unspoiled coastal environment.


For those seeking a deeper connection to the area’s natural heritage, the nearby Waitakere Ranges offer opportunities for bushwalks, waterfall adventures, and a chance to immerse oneself in the lush native flora and fauna that characterize the region.


Whether you’re captivated by the rugged beauty of the coastline, seeking artistic inspiration in the footsteps of filmmakers and artists, or simply looking to embrace the untamed energy of the sea, Karekare Beach offers a truly immersive coastal experience that showcases the unbridled beauty of New Zealand’s western shores.


Mount Maunganui Beach

Perched at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour in the Bay of Plenty, Mount Maunganui Beach is a vibrant and iconic destination that seamlessly blends natural beauty with a lively beach atmosphere. The beach is dominated by the majestic Mount Maunganui, a volcanic cone that stands as a symbol of the region’s rich geological history and offers panoramic views of the surrounding coastline.


Mount Maunganui Beach is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, with its clear waters and consistent swells attracting surfers, paddleboarders, and swimmers. The beach’s gentle slopes and golden sands provide an ideal setting for sunbathing, beach games, and leisurely strolls, making it a popular destination for families and beachgoers of all ages.


The vibrant beach town of Mount Maunganui offers a diverse array of cafes, restaurants, and boutiques, creating a lively and welcoming atmosphere that complements the natural beauty of the area. Visitors can indulge in beachfront dining, explore local markets, or simply soak up the laid-back coastal vibe that defines this beloved destination.


For those seeking a bit of adventure, the summit of Mount Maunganui presents an opportunity for a rewarding hike, offering sweeping views of the ocean, harbor, and surrounding landscapes. The hike is a popular activity for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the region’s natural splendor and enjoy a bird’s-eye perspective of the coastal scenery.


Whether you’re catching a wave, savoring the local cuisine, or embarking on a scenic hike, Mount Maunganui Beach offers a dynamic and inviting coastal experience that celebrates the harmonious convergence of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and vibrant beachside culture.


Kaiteriteri Beach

Located in the sun-soaked region of Tasman Bay at the top of the South Island, Kaiteriteri Beach is a picturesque coastal gem that beckons visitors with its golden sands, azure waters, and sun-drenched ambiance. This idyllic beach is renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere, water-based activities, and its gateway status to the stunning Abel Tasman National Park.


Kaiteriteri Beach is a playground for water enthusiasts, offering opportunities for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing in the calm and clear waters of Tasman Bay. The beach’s gentle gradient and sheltered bay make it an ideal spot for families and those looking to enjoy a leisurely dip or water-based adventures.


The beach serves as the departure point for excursions into the Abel Tasman National Park, where visitors can embark on scenic cruises, hiking adventures, and wildlife encounters amidst the park’s lush coastal forests and pristine beaches. The proximity to this renowned national park adds an extra dimension to the Kaiteriteri Beach experience, allowing visitors to explore both the beach’s natural beauty and the wider coastal paradise of the region.


The vibrant beach town of Kaiteriteri offers a range of amenities, including cafes, ice cream parlors, and facilities for beachside picnics and barbecues, creating a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere for visitors to savor the coastal lifestyle.


For those seeking a panoramic perspective of the area, the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park offers a network of trails that wind through native bush and provide stunning views of the bay and beyond, adding an adventurous dimension to the beach experience.


Whether you’re basking in the sunshine, exploring the wonders of the Abel Tasman National Park, or immersing yourself in the laid-back beach town ambiance, Kaiteriteri Beach offers a multifaceted coastal experience that celebrates the natural beauty and recreational opportunities of New Zealand’s northern shores.



New Zealand’s coastal landscapes are a testament to the country’s natural beauty and diverse offerings for beach enthusiasts. From the rugged black sands of Piha Beach to the sun-drenched shores of Kaiteriteri Beach, each of the eight beaches highlighted in this article showcases the unique charm and allure of New Zealand’s coastline.


These beaches not only offer opportunities for relaxation and recreation but also serve as gateways to the natural wonders and cultural heritage of their respective regions. Whether it’s the geothermal marvel of Hot Water Beach, the cinematic beauty of Karekare Beach, or the tranquil allure of Cathedral Cove, each destination presents a distinct coastal experience that captivates visitors and leaves a lasting impression.


Moreover, the beaches featured in this article underscore New Zealand’s commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable tourism. The pristine natural settings, diverse ecosystems, and cultural significance of these coastal destinations highlight the country’s dedication to preserving its natural heritage for future generations to enjoy.


As visitors traverse the length and breadth of New Zealand’s coastline, they are not only treated to breathtaking scenery but also invited to immerse themselves in a rich tapestry of experiences, from exhilarating water sports to serene moments of seaside tranquility. The beaches serve as a reflection of the country’s unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and outdoor recreation, inviting travelers to explore and connect with the coastal wonders of New Zealand.


Whether it’s the thrill of surfing at Piha Beach, the enchanting beauty of Cathedral Cove, or the family-friendly charm of Kaiteriteri Beach, these coastal destinations embody the essence of New Zealand’s coastal diversity, offering something for every beach lover to cherish and enjoy.


In conclusion, New Zealand’s beaches stand as a testament to the country’s natural splendor and provide a captivating tapestry of coastal experiences that beckon visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty, adventure, and tranquility of the country’s pristine shores.