New Zealand's 10 Best Beaches

Love waking up to the sound of waves and the salty air of the ocean? You can’t go wrong with beaches in New Zealand – especially when you can drive your camper from one to another, waking up and falling asleep to vastly different sandy bays and rocky shores.

So choosing the best of the best? Not so easy. But here we have it. Whether it’s an Insta-worthy beach shot you’re after, an early morning run, or maybe you just want some quiet time amongst the elements – it’s time to go.


1. Whale Bay, Raglan

There’s nothing like a good surf. And if you’re big on surfing, you’ll have heard of these waves; Whale Bay is famous worldwide for its left-hand surf break. Or maybe you’re just after a chilled-out surfer vibe? There are organic food shops and restaurants, eco-resorts, massage studios, and surf schools all around Raglan, so feel free to take it easy when you’re not polishing your wave-riding skills. You’ll find Whale Bay between Mount Karioi and the ocean, in a secluded spot that’s perfect for a surf (as soon as you jump out of bed).

2. Hahei

Ah, so this is what a slice of heaven looks like. Hahei is an idyllic beach marine reserve, where you can go on scenic adventure boat trips or snorkelling, kayaking and much more. Spotting the marine wildlife in the Hahei Marine Reserve is definitely worth it, or you can head to Hot Water Beach and dig your own spa out of the sand during low tide!

Hahei’s Cathedral Cove is a beautiful sheltered spot of sand and surf where you can relax – perfect for long walks and your morning salutations. This is one beach you won’t forget.

Already in love with Hahei? Pull your camper in for the night at Top 10's Hot Water Beach Holiday Park. Book in advance before they get packed out.

3. Whangamata

This cool little town is the epitome of a perfect surf village. A great beach with wonderful waves for surfers, paddleboarders and swimmers. It gets really popular during the summer holidays, but finding your own spot amongst the four-kilometre ocean beach isn’t too hard. You can even make your way to the nearby little island, Hauturu Island, by kayaking or wading at low tide. Good times.

4. Te Henga (Bethells Beach)

The first thing you should know about Te Henga is that Taylor Swift shot her Out of the Woods music video here. The second is that you can surf, paraglide or hang glide from awesome cliffs, looking like a majestic bird in a Taylor Swift music video. Television series and movies were shot here as well, including Xena: Warrior Princess. Suddenly, everything you do at Te Henga will be dramatic and magical and immensely panoramic – you warrior you.

Fishing is also quite popular, with plenty of places to go for bushwalks, sunbathing and skimboarding too.

5. Maunganui Beach

Mount Maunganui isn’t quite as badass as it sounds (although it used to be a really cool volcano). A white sand surf beach stretches on and on from The Mount (as it’s affectionately known) where you can catch a wave or stop for a good meal.

The peninsula is actually a huge sandbar with a sheltered bay on one side and an incredible surf beach on the other. When you’re not soaking up the beach, make sure you climb The Mount and soak up the beautiful views too.

6. Allans Beach

This is one for the books. To many, the best beach they’ve ever surfed has been Allans Beach on the Otago Peninsula. More than a kilometre long, you’ll see large rolling hills and a small sea lion colony. When you take a stroll along the beach, you’ll be sure to see them in all their huge, raucous glory.

The waves are large and fully formed, great for surfing, but even better are the yellow-eyed penguins you’ll spot marching back and forth at dawn and dusk. The beach is even close to the city, so it’s good for a day trip, but perfect for a longer stay too.

7. Koekohe Beach

Home to the famous Moeraki Boulders, Koekohe Beach is a beautiful spot for relaxing, snapping some photos and sightseeing. The spherical stones are must-take shots for your friends and fam back home, so make sure to stop by during dawn or dusk for perfect lighting.

According to Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed ashore from a great voyaging canoe, which was wrecked upon landfall. Scientists say they’re actually calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago. We can’t tell which is cooler.

8. Piha Beach

The black sand of Piha Beach makes this spot super memorable. That and the astonishing waves – though the water’s strong and not for the faint-hearted. The cosy seaside village of Piha is super popular with the local Kiwis, especially in the summertime, so if it’s good enough for the locals – it’s good enough for us.

Take some surfing lessons, try your hand at abseiling down the Piha canyon or climb Lion Rock (Piha’s most iconic landmark) to see the carving of a Maori woman.

9. New Chums Beach

In 2006, The Observer named this shy stretch of sand one of the Top 20 Beaches in the World, and we can see why. As one of the last purely undeveloped pieces of land in the area, the locals love this quiet, secluded golden stretch of sand.

New Chums Beach is hidden away from the masses and you can only reach it via boat or a 30-minute walk by the coast. Surrounded by native forest and pohutukawa trees, this is the perfect spot to get away and get your sun salutations on.

If you’re seeking to extend your stay with this stunning beach, you can book a spot at the nearest park, Top 10 Coromandel Holiday Park.

10. Ninety-Mile Beach

We’re saving the longest for last. This fabled strip of sand is not actually 90 miles long. It’s 88 kilometres, which is still long enough to be a highway. When you reach the “Ninety-Mile” Beach, make sure to body-board down the sand dunes, or go surfcasting. Digging for shellfish and relaxing on the greens at the nearby Aupouri Forest are also brilliant options.

Whichever sea and surf you choose, enjoy your Mighty road trip along some of the finest stops New Zealand has to offer.


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