New Zealand's best beaches

Every Kiwi has their favourite spot on the sand and with 15,000 km of New Zealand coastline, it’s hard to narrow it down to a list of ten.

Surfers at St. Clair, Dunedin
Here are just a few of our favourites, north to south, from the best people-watching promenades to the most remote and rugged.

1. Ninety-Mile Beach, Northland

This beach is not all that it seems – actually only 55 miles long and officially a highway, but don’t expect to see traffic jams here. Only 4WD vehicles are allowed on the never-ending stretch of sand and tours can be booked from Kaitaia or Paihia

Travel Tip: If your clients are feeling  energetic, they can do some bodyboarding (in the water or down the sand dunes), blokarting or surfcasting.

2. Piha Beach, Auckland

One of Auckland's wild west coast beaches, Piha is known for its black sand, big waves and formidable Lion Rock, an island in the sea. Only an hour from the city, enjoy a picnic on the warm sand while watching experienced surfers tackle the thundering waves.

3. Hot Water Beach, Coromandel

Due to strong currents, the pounding Pacific is favoured by surfers at this beach. On the sand, just beyond the breaking waves, you will find beachgoers lounging in their own personal hot pools. Hot mineral waters bubble up through the sand and at low tide your clients will be able to dig a unique geothermal spa.

Travel Tip: Bring your own spade, or rent one from your accommodation or local café.

4. New Chum Beach/Wainuiototo Bay Coromandel

Hidden away on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Chum Beach is only accessible by foot. The 30-minute track from Whangapoua Beach is well worth the journey. You’ll be rewarded by few people on a golden stretch of sand fringed by Pohutukawa and native forest. No wonder it was voted one of the world’s best beaches by Condé Nast.

Travel Tip: Bring plenty of water and snacks, and sturdy shoes for the rocky part of the trail.

5. Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty

The chilled-out surf town, shortened to "The Mount" by locals, is the perfect place to unwind in the sunshine. The main beach is consistently voted New Zealand's best for its surf, beachside cafes and seemingly never-ending white sand.

Travel Tip: For some exercise after lounging waterside, your clients should put on their walking shoes and head up Mauao/Mount Maunganui for a spectacular view of the peninsula.

6. Scorching Bay, Wellington

Need a break from the city? Just over the hill from the heart of the capital’s film industry, you will find the small but perfectly formed Scorching Bay. Arguably the most stunning beach in Wellington, it’s a favourite spot for a picnic, a game of beach cricket or just hanging out in the sun.

Travel Tip: Great coffee and ice-cream can be found at the bay’s resident café, Scorch-O-Rama.

7. Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson Tasman

There are too many stunning beaches in Nelson Tasman to choose just one. Your clients can walk (on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track) or sail, kayak or water taxi to popular Anchorage Bay for golden sand and beachside camping, or swim in the turquoise waters of Torrent Bay.

Travel Tip: Visit the beach "New Zealand bought" on a tour— Awaroa Beach narrowly avoided falling into private ownership after Kiwis crowdfunded $2M to keep it as part of the Abel Tasman National Park.

8. Hokitika Beach, West Coast

Hokitika, so full of history, is the only West Coast town located on the beach. It might be rugged but you're sure to get a good sunset photo here. Go in summer to see the Driftwood and Sand Festival, where locals create art from materials found on the beach.

Travel Tip: Hokitika is a stop on the West Coast Wilderness cycle trail, a great way to explore the wild West Coast region for all levels of cyclists. You'll wind your way through ancient rainforests, along glacial rivers, around moody lakes and of course along the Tasman Sea.  

9. St Clair, Dunedin

A sweeping white-sand beach just minutes from Dunedin’s central city, St Clair is a popular spot for surfing, swimming, walking and socialising and dining out. At the end of the beach sits the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool, which dates back to 1884 and is one of the only heated seawater pools in New Zealand.

10. Curio Bay, Southland

A curious place indeed and perhaps best known for its rare 170-million-year-old petrified forest, it is also home to the endangered yellow-eyed penguin and Hectors dolphin. Porpoise Bay, which stretches around the bay, is a beautiful sandy beach perfect for swimming and surfing.

Travel Tip: Visitors to Curio Bay during the summer and autumn can often see Hector's dolphins playing in the surf.

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