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Best New Zealand Beaches

BEST 23 New Zealand Beaches (North, South & Stewart Island)

We have created a comprehensive list of 23+ stunning beaches in New Zealand, each with its unique highlights and characteristics including details on location, proximity to major cities, and accessibility to help you plan your New Zealand beach holiday. Explore the best New Zealand beaches on Google Map >

Best North Island Beaches

1. Cathedral Cove & Beach, Coromandel Peninsula

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

This iconic beach boasts a naturally formed archway, accessible at low tide, and features in the movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” It’s a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland, or accessible by boat tours.

2. Ninety Mile Beach, Northland

90 Mile Beach New Zealand

This isn’t actually 90 miles long (it’s closer to 55), but it offers endless stretches of sand, perfect for driving on the beach (with a permit), fishing, and horseback riding. It’s a 3-hour drive from Auckland.

3. Mission Bay & Beach, Auckland

Mission Bay Beach - Auckland, Photo Credit: Gérard, source:

A popular urban beach with cafes, restaurants, and water sports rentals, ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and people-watching. It’s just 15 minutes from Auckland city center.

4. Medlands Beach, Northland

Medlands Beach, Great Barrier_Island

Known for its crystal-clear waters and sheltered bay, perfect for kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling. It’s a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland.

5. Kāpiti Island beaches

Kapiti Coast New Zealand

Take a ferry to Kāpiti Island and explore its beaches, native forest, and unique birdlife. Enjoy guided tours, hiking trails, and stunning views.

6. Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula

Hot Water Beach, Coromandel

Dig your own hot pool in the sand at low tide and enjoy a geothermal soak. Explore rock pools and enjoy the scenic coast. It’s a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland.

7. Mount Maunganui Beach, Bay of Plenty

Mount Maunganui & Beach, Photo Credit: Camilla Rutherford

A popular surfing spot with a vibrant atmosphere, offering cafes, restaurants, and stunning views of Mount Maunganui. It’s a 3-hour drive from Auckland.

8. Piha Beach, Auckland

Piha Beach, Auckland, Photo Credit: Scott Venning

Dramatic black sand beach popular for surfing, bodyboarding, and scenic walks. Hike to the Lion Rock lookout for panoramic views.

9. Karekare Beach, Auckland

Secluded and rugged beach with black sand dunes, rock pools, and waterfalls. Explore the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park for more adventures.

10. Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island

Relax on the sheltered beach with cafes, restaurants, and water sports rentals. Explore the vineyards and olive groves of Waiheke Island.

11. Takapuna Beach, Auckland

Popular family-friendly beach with calm waters, playgrounds, and cafes. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and stand-up paddleboarding.

12. Waipu Cove & Beach, Northland

Picturesque beach with white sand, clear waters, and sheltered bay. Ideal for swimming, kayaking, and exploring the rock pools.

Best South Island Beaches

13. Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay

Dramatic rock formations, blowholes, and a unique “Pancake Rocks” landscape make this beach a photographer’s paradise. It’s a 3-hour drive from Nelson.

14. Abel Tasman National Park Beaches

Abel Tasman beach

Explore a string of beautiful beaches within the park, accessible by boat or kayak. Relax on golden sand, hike through native forest, and discover hidden coves. It’s a 4-hour drive from

15. Hokitika Beach

Hokitika Beach & Beach, Photo Credit: Juergen Schacke

Located on the West Coast, known for its unique pounamu (greenstone) and driftwood treasures. Explore the beach, visit local galleries, and witness the sunset over the Tasman Sea. It’s a 5-hour drive from Greymouth.

16. Koekohe Beach, Waitaki

A long, sandy beach with black sand dunes and fascinating rock formations. Enjoy birdwatching, hiking, and stargazing under the clear skies. It’s a 2-hour drive from Timaru.

17. Farewell Spit, Golden Bay

Farewell Spit Tour Abel Tasman

Remote beach with sand dunes, native forest, and abundant birdlife. Hike to the Farewell Spit lighthouse for incredible views.

18. Tahunanui Beach, Nelson

Long sandy beach with calm waters, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and windsurfing. Enjoy the cafes, restaurants, and shops nearby.

19. Kaiteriteri Beach, Abel Tasman National Park

Starting point for exploring the park by boat or kayak. Relax on the beach, hike through the native forest, and discover hidden coves.

20. Sandy Bay, Marlborough Sounds

The secluded beach is accessible only by boat or kayak. Explore the surrounding bays, hike through the native forest, and enjoy the serenity.

21. Awaroa Inlet & Beach, Abel Tasman National Park

Awaroa Bay & Beach, Nelson Tasman

A beautiful beach nestled within the park, accessible by boat or kayak. Hike through the native forest and relax on the golden sand. It’s a 4-hour drive from Nelson.

Best Stewart Island Beaches

22. Mason’s Bay & Beach

Remote beach with white sand and clear waters. Hike to the lookout for panoramic views, explore the surrounding forest, and relax on the pristine beach.

23. Halfmoon Bay & Beach

Sheltered beach with calm waters, ideal for swimming, kayaking, and fishing. Discover the local wildlife and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.


New Zealand offers countless stunning beaches depending on your preferences and interests. Consider factors like:

  • Accessibility: Some beaches are easily accessible by car, while others require boat trips or hiking.
  • Activities: Best New Zealand Beaches offer various activities like swimming, surfing, fishing, diving, and kayaking. Choose based on your preferences.
  • Facilities: Some beaches have amenities like cafes, restaurants, and toilets, while others are more remote.
  • Seasonality: New Zealand has a temperate climate, but specific weather conditions can vary depending on the season and location.

For Scenic Beauty:

  • Pākiri Beach, Auckland This beach boasts dramatic black sand dunes, rock formations, and crashing waves. Hike up Te Muriwai for breathtaking views of the coastline.
  • Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Hot Water Beach), Coromandel Peninsula: Dig your own hot pool in the sand at low tide and enjoy a geothermal soak amidst stunning coastal scenery.
  • Split Apple Rock, Tasman Bay: Witness this iconic natural rock formation split in two, accessible only by boat or kayak. Explore the surrounding caves and admire the turquoise waters.
  • Tunnel Beach, Dunedin: Walk through a tunnel carved by hand in the 1870s to reach this secluded beach with rock pools and native forest. Explore the nearby wildlife reserve.

For Surfing:

    • Raglan Beach, Waikato: Renowned for its world-class surf breaks, attracting surfers of all levels. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and explore the nearby waterfalls and caves.
    • Taranaki Beaches, Taranaki: Discover a string of black sand beaches, including the popular surf spots of Pātea Beach and Stent Road. Enjoy stunning views of Mount Taranaki in the background.
    • Sandy Bay, Southland: This remote beach offers consistent waves and stunning scenery, attracting experienced surfers seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures.
    • Castlecliff Beach, Wanganui: A popular spot for beginner and intermediate surfers, offering gentler waves and a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy the scenic coastline and nearby amenities.

      For Families:

    • Ōhope Beach, Bay of Plenty: This sheltered beach with calm waters is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles. Enjoy the cafes, playgrounds, and water sport rentals nearby.
    • Coopers Beach, Northland: A long, sandy beach with clear waters and gentle waves, perfect for families with young children. Explore the rock pools, enjoy scenic walks, and visit the nearby Kauri Coast Park.
    • Oriental Bay, Wellington: This urban beach offers calm waters, playgrounds, and a swimming pool, making it a popular spot for families. Enjoy the cafes, restaurants, and harbor views.
    • Cornwallis Beach, Auckland: A sheltered beach with calm waters and plenty of space for picnics and games. Explore the nearby Shakespear Regional Park for hiking and wildlife encounters.

      For Relaxation:

    • Long Beach, Otago: This vast, sandy beach offers endless stretches of coastline for peaceful walks, picnics, and stargazing. Enjoy the serenity and escape the crowds.
    • Tokomaru Bay, Northland: Relax on this secluded beach with white sand and clear waters, surrounded by native forest. Hike to the nearby lookout for panoramic views.
    • Anahaura Bay, Marlborough Sounds: Accessible only by boat, this tranquil bay offers pristine beaches, calm waters, and abundant birdlife. Enjoy kayaking, fishing, and swimming in a secluded paradise.
    • Karitane Beach, Otago: Relax on this sheltered beach with golden sand and calm waters, popular for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Enjoy the scenic views and nearby penguin colony.


Which New Zealand beach is the best for swimming, and which one has the warmest sea temperature?

Determining the “best” beach for swimming in New Zealand is subjective and depends on individual preferences. However, considering water temperature, calmness, and amenities, here are some top contenders:

For Warmest Sea Temperatures:

  • Northland Beaches: The northern tip of the North Island generally enjoys warmer waters, particularly during the summer months (December to February). Beaches like Maitai Bay, Coopers Beach, and Tokomaru Bay boast balmy waters ideal for swimming.
  • Bay of Plenty Beaches: This region on the east coast of the North Island also experiences relatively warm waters, especially around Mount Maunganui Beach and Ōhope Beach.

For Calm Waters and Safe Swimming:

  • Abel Tasman National Park Beaches: Nestled within the park, Awaroa Inlet and Kaiteriteri Beach offer sheltered bays with calm waters, perfect for families and inexperienced swimmers.
  • Ōhope Beach: As mentioned earlier, this Bay of Plenty beach boasts sheltered waters and gentle waves, making it ideal for young children and those seeking a relaxing swim.
  • Mission Bay, Auckland: This popular urban beach offers calm waters protected by a small peninsula, ideal for swimming and enjoying water sports like paddleboarding and kayaking.

Ultimately, the best New Zealand beach for you depends on your specific priorities. Consider factors like:

  • Travel time: How far are you willing to travel to reach the beach?
  • Amenities: Do you need cafes, restaurants, and toilets nearby?
  • Activities: Do you want to swim, sunbathe, or participate in water sports?
  • Atmosphere: Do you prefer a lively or secluded beach?

By considering these factors along with the suggestions above, you can choose the perfect beach for your ideal bathing and swimming experience in New Zealand!

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