New Zealand may not be known for its beaches the way some other South Pacific nations are, but that doesn’t mean the country doesn’t have any to offer. Along with your usual swimming and surfing beaches, New Zealand’s 15,000+ kilometers of coastline also offers up some truly unique seaside locations.
Don’t take the numbering of this list too literally, though, because each of these beaches is the “best” in its own way.
1. Kaiteriteri Beach
Located in sun-drenched Tasman Bay, Kaiteriteri Beach is often referred to as the best beach in New Zealand. It’s calm waters, golden sand, and family-friendly atmosphere make this beach a great holiday or camping destination. Kaiteriteri is also close to the bush-wrapped beaches of beautiful Abel Tasman National Park, as well as the popular sunny stretches of sand in Golden Bay.
2. Hot Water Beach
Located on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, Hot Water Beach looks like a typical New Zealand beach at first glance. But if you dig a little deeper into its pink-tinted sand, you’ll discover why it’s so unique. And when I say “dig a little deeper,” I mean that literally! Hot Water Beach is located over a geothermally-heated spring, so at low tide the diligent can dig their own hot tubs right on the beach. Popular with both locals and tourists alike, Hot Water Beach can be reached in 3 hours from Auckland by car, or is just 15 minutes from the town of Whitianga.
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3. Piha Baeach
Located on the west side of Auckland on the Tasman Sea, Piha Beach is one of New Zealand’s best surf beaches. If it’s surf instead of sand that you’re in search of, you can’t go wrong with Piha. However, because the waters at Piha are often rough and wild, this beach is on the more dangerous side, and is not ideal for those just looking for a pretty place to swim.
4. Pakiri Beach
If it’s secluded, white-sand beaches you’re after, head to Northland, where beaches like Pakiri are sure to satisfy. If you want to do more than just lounge in the sand, consider calling up Pakiri Beach Horse Rides, who can help you tick “horseback riding on a beach” off your bucket list.
5. 90 Mile Beach
The name of this Northland beach is deceiving for two reasons. First, the beach is not actually 90 miles long — it’s more like 60. And, second, this is not a New Zealand beach that people visit to go swimming. Instead, this beach is famous for being an official part of State Highway 1, meaning it’s normal to see cars, jeeps, and even tour buses traversing it. Also nearby are the Te Paki Sand Dunes, where those with an adventurous spirit can go sandboarding down dunes that are hundreds of feet high. Package a visit to 90 Mile Beach with a tour to Cape Reinga from Paihia, which is a couple of hours south.
6. Koekohe Beach
This South Island beach on the Otago Coast between Moeraki and Hampden is best known for the huge, round Moeraki Boulders that can be found scattered along the beach. The nearly-perfectly-round boulders make for some great photos. The beach is just over an hour’s drive from the city of Dunedin.
7. Oriental Bay beach
If it’s a warm summer day in New Zealand’s capital, you can bet that nearly everyone in the city will be down around Oriental Bay. This beach is unique in that it’s located right in downtown Wellington. Along with a stretch of sand perfect for playing pick-up games of rugby or sand volleyball, the beach here is also surrounded by cafes, gelato stands, playgrounds, and more. Not to mention it offers up great views of Wellington and is easily reachable on foot from anywhere in the city.