Skip to Content

New Zealand’s Beaches and Coastal Delights

Summer in New Zealand is a great time to get “beached as, bro.”

With over 9,000 miles of coast ringing its two main islands, New Zealand has hundreds of unspoiled beaches to explore for swimming, surfing, chilling by seaside natural hot springs, or simply discovering a secluded beach with no one else in sight and not a footprint in the golden sands.

If this is the kind of holiday you seek, here are six beaches that should be on your radar.

New Zealand Beaches

Karekare Beach, West Auckland, North Island

Karekare Falls (photo: Natalia V)
Karekare Falls (photo: Natalia V)

With its black sands and looming craggy cliffs, Karekare Beach was made famous as the location of the 1993 film “The Piano.”

While the surf here is challenging, this beach is more about the spectacular landscape.

From the beach, you can walk to nearby Karekare Falls. Spot seals sunbaking on the rocks or hike the bush-clad green hills.

If you're a seasoned surfer, you can paddle to the big waves or head to Piha, the next bay north, to find one of New Zealand's top surf breaks.

Hot Water Beach, Coromandel, North Island

Hot Water Beach is a popular New Zealand beach on the North Island (photo: Colin Bowern)
Hot Water Beach (photo: Colin Bowern)

The Coromandel Peninsula is famous for its many beautiful beaches, but the most unusual is Hot Water Beach.

For two hours on either side of low tide, heated geothermal mineral water beneath the beach bubble to the surface, and you can dig your hot spa in the sand and relax. Spades can be hired at local cafes.

Koekohe Beach, North Otago, South Island

Moeraki Boulders (photo: Jan Smith)
Moeraki Boulders (photo: Jan Smith)

The big attractions at Koekohe Beach are the mysterious Moeraki Boulders. These massive spherical boulders are strewn like the eggs of a gigantic prehistoric creature all along the tide line.

Koekohe Beach can be crowded with sightseers daily, so take your camera at dawn or dusk for some quiet contemplation and to capture the otherworldly atmosphere.

Manu Bay, Raglan, North Island

Raglan is a New Zealand beach popular with surfers (photo: Natalia V)
Raglan (photo: Natalia V)

Five miles from the laid-back bohemian center of Raglan, Manu Bay is a seasoned surfer's mecca, with swells breaking over a distance of 1000 feet and 10-foot-plus waves lined up ready for action.

Manu Bay was featured in the 1966 cult classic surf film The Endless Summer and continues attracting surfers worldwide.

It's claimed that Manu Bay has the longest, most accessible, and most consistent left-handed break in the world and that a surfer with enough skill can catch a wave and cruise along the break for up to a mile.

90 Mile Beach, Cape Reinga, North Island

Boasting the longest stretch of sand in New Zealand, 90 Mile Beach is actually 64 miles of golden sand.

A favorite here is to race down the beach in a specially equipped tour bus, with salt spray lashing the windows.

Swimming and surfing are best at the beach's southern end at Ahipara.

90 Mile Beach is also a hot spot for fishing for snapper, and, at the northern end, you can sled down the huge Te Paki dunes.

Raglan, North Island

Raglan is a surfing mecca set amid a dramatic and scenic coastline of black sand beaches.

The town of Raglan is a bohemian center that attracts people seeking alternative lifestyles and is a laid-back place to hang out in its cafes, bars, surf shops, and galleries.

While Manu Bay is the big draw here for serious surfers, Ocean Beach is an excellent spot for a swim, bodyboard session, or surf lesson.

If you are planning a surfing trip to some of New Zealand's best coastal hotspots, one of the best and most affordable ways to explore the beaches of the Land of the Long White Cloud is to hire a campervan such as those from Britz Campers. Having a fully equipped campervan is ideal for a small group traveling light.


This post was brought to you by Britz.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Annabella Dean

Friday 16th of October 2015

Hot water beach looks beautiful Dave, it’s definitely going on my list of places to visit. Thank you for sharing :-)


Thursday 21st of November 2013

sooo many amazing places in NZ its such a beautiful country


Monday 18th of November 2013

That looks amazing! I've never been to NZ, but we hope to go in 2015! Can't wait. Those beaches look gorgeous. In the northern hemisphere it's getting colder, would love to escape to the south and enjoy summer once more! :P

Comments are closed.