New Zealand, a country known for its diverse landscapes, is also home to some of the world's most stunning beaches. From the black sands of Piha Beach to the geothermal delights of Hot Water Beach, New Zealand's beaches offer an experience like no other. Whether you're a keen surfer, a beach lounger, or an intrepid explorer, there's a piece of coast just waiting for you.
New Zealand - A Beach Lover’s Paradise
With over 15,000 km of coastline, New Zealand beaches are renowned for their sheer beauty, unique features, and the range of activities they offer. From north to south, the beaches in New Zealand are dotted with stunning natural wonders and are rich in local culture and history. This guide aims to help you discover and explore some of the best beaches in New Zealand.
North Island Beaches
Piha Beach: Surfing and Scenic Wonders
Located on the west coast of the North Island, just an hour's drive from Auckland, Piha Beach is a haven for surfers and nature lovers alike. With its rugged beauty, iconic Lion Rock, and pounding surf, Piha provides a wild retreat from urban life.
Cathedral Cove: A Unique Seaside Cathedral
A gem on the Coromandel Peninsula, Cathedral Cove is a must-visit on any North Island beach itinerary. This picturesque spot features a massive stone archway connecting two secluded beaches. It's the perfect location for snorkelling, swimming, or simply lounging on the soft, white sand.
Mount Maunganui: Family-Friendly Fun
Lively yet relaxed, Mount Maunganui Beach is a favourite among families, surfers, and sun-seekers. The suburb itself is a bustling hub with a range of cafés, restaurants and shops. If you’re looking for an active outing, the trek up Mauao (the mount) rewards with panoramic views of the Bay of Plenty.
Oriental Bay: Urban Beach Getaway
Hot Water Beach: Nature’s Very Own Spa
Armed with a spade, you can dig your very own hot pool on the beach. The juxtaposition of the cool ocean waves on one side and your self-made hot tub on the other makes for a one-of-a-kind beach experience. A trip to this beach is incomplete without this seaside soak, so don't forget to bring along a spade!
South Island Beaches
Abel Tasman National Park: Golden Sands and Clear Waters
Koekohe Beach: The Mystery of Moeraki Boulders
Gillespies Beach: Where the Forest Meets the Sea
Tunnel Beach: Dramatic Landscapes and Whimsical History
Near Dunedin, Tunnel Beach is named for the hand-carved tunnel leading to this secluded beach. Surrounded by dramatic sandstone cliffs, it's a perfect spot for those seeking solitude and scenic beauty.
Hidden Gems: Less Explored Beaches
New Chums Beach: Secluded Splendour
Wharariki Beach: Wild and Windswept
Castlepoint Beach: Lighthouse Lookouts and Reef Adventures
Te Henga (Bethells Beach): Escape into Wilderness
Beach Activities and Water Sports
Surfing Hotspots in New Zealand
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
The marine reserves around Goat Island and the Poor Knights Islands provide excellent opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling.
Kayaking and Paddleboarding
New Zealand's beaches and surrounding waters offer wonderful kayaking and paddleboarding experiences. Abel Tasman National Park, with its sheltered bays, is a top choice for kayaking adventures.
Family Fun: Safe Beaches for Swimming and Picnicking
For a family-friendly outing, try the calm, warm waters of the Bay of Islands or the Coromandel's iconic Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own natural spa in the sand.
Protecting New Zealand's Beaches: Sustainable Travel Tips
Beach Exploration with a Campervan: Freedom and Flexibility
Touring New Zealand beaches in a campervan provides an unparalleled sense of freedom and adventure. Imagine waking up to the sound of waves, being able to enjoy a sunset barbecue on a beach, and having the flexibility to explore at your own pace.
Advantages of Beach Camping with a Campervan
Beach camping with a campervan allows you to make the most of the coastal locations. You can easily move from one beach to another, bringing along all your beach essentials, in the comfort of your mobile home. Whether you want to surf at Piha Beach or dig your own spa at Hot Water Beach, a campervan offers flexibility, convenience and a closeness to nature that other forms of accommodation can't match.
Tips for Campervan Travel
It's important to be a responsible traveller when enjoying New Zealand's beaches. Make sure to only camp in designated areas and follow local camping rules. Some popular coastal locations offer campsites with facilities like power, water, and waste disposal points.
Check our website for more tips on hiring a campervan, rules for freedom camping, and suggested routes for beach exploration. We also recommend booking in advance during peak season to secure a spot at popular beach campsites.
Enjoy the Beach, Respect the Environment
Exploring beaches in New Zealand with a campervan is a fantastic experience, but it's crucial to ensure we minimise our impact on these beautiful landscapes. Respect all 'No Camping' signs, use public toilets or your campervan's self-contained facilities, and never leave waste behind. This way, we can all contribute to keeping New Zealand's beaches beautiful for future generations.
Your New Zealand Beach Bucket List
Exploring the best beaches in New Zealand takes you on a journey through diverse landscapes, from the black sands of Piha Beach to the golden shores of Abel Tasman National Park. Each beach, whether on the North or South Island, offers unique experiences and breathtaking views that will enrich your travel experience and leave lasting memories.
Pack your sunhat, your togs and plenty of sunscreen, and set out to explore these stunning coastal gems. Whether you're a surfer, a beach bum, or a nature lover, you'll find a slice of paradise on a New Zealand beach.