New Zealand has more than 15,000 kilometres of coastline showcasing beautiful and diverse landscapes. The country has something to entice every style of traveller: sandy beaches, coves, dunes, wild coast – there is something for everyone. Whether you are on the South Island or the North Island, you will be amazed by the beauty of this coastline. From the North to the South, here are some of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand.
Most beautiful beaches on the North Island
Ninety Mile Beach
Nicknamed 90 Mile Beach, this beach is actually 56 miles (88 kilometers). It is famous because at low tide you can drive on the sand, as long as you have a 4×4 vehicle. However, even with a 4×4 vehicle, it is not uncommon to see vehicles stuck in the sand if drivers have timed the tide wrong. The beach, in itself, is not exceptional however, the secret lies behind the giant dunes you see from the beach – the dunes of Te Paki. Climb to the other side of the dunes and you will arrive in what feels like a different country – a desert of sand! For an even more epic adventure, you can hire a bodyboard and “surf” the sand dunes. An activity not to be missed!
Whale Bay – Matapouri
Matapouri Bay is in the Northland region, 35 kilometers east of Whangarei. It is best known for its natural pools carved in the rock called Mermaid pools. However, head a little further and you’ll find a hidden gem, still preserved from tourism: Whale Bay. It is a white sand beach lined with turquoise waters. The postcard perfect landscape that everyone dreams about so do not miss the opportunity to relax on this beautiful beach.
Elliot bay – Bay of islands
Bay of islands is one of the most beautiful areas of the North Island and for good reason. There are nearly 150 islands bordered by turquoise waters and a green nature, it is truly a sight not to be missed! With its fine sand and crystal clear sea, Elliot Bay Beach is one of the wonders of this region. It is located 30 minutes from Russell and as a tip, we suggest you stop at the top of the road to the beach, the view here is exceptional!
Located 40kilometers from Auckland, this black sand beach will entice you with its wild beauty. It is on the West coast of Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. Piha is reputed to be one of the best surf spots in the country. However, not for the inexperienced, the conditions can be rough with occasionally very strong winds. If you’re not a surfer, climb on Lion Rock instead to enjoy a breathtaking view of the beach!
Cathedral Cove – Coromandel
The Coromandel Peninsula is located in the North West of the North Island, a 2-hour drive from Auckland. A must-visit destination in New Zealand, this region is famous for its heavenly beaches. The most legendary beach in the area is Cathedral Cove, named for its impressive rocky archway which leads from one beach to another. Cathedral Cove was made famous by the movie “The World of Narnia”, where one of the scenes were shot here. (Video link of the movie scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUlVUvffXwk).
Most beautiful beaches of the South Island
You may recognise this beach from the famous Windows computer wallpaper with the jogger on the beach and huge rocks in the background? This photo was taken on the sublime beach of Wharariki, near Cape Farewell: the Northernmost point of the South Island. This wild beach dotted with rock formations is absolutely beautiful. At low tide, you will even have the chance to see baby seals playing in natural pools and admire the reflection of the rocks on the wet sand. Not forgetting the beautiful walks along the coast from here.
Anchorage beach – Abel Tasman
Located north of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park offers breathtaking scenery. The Great Walk in the heart of the park is one of the most popular in the country: 60kilometers of trail along beaches each more breathtaking than the last. You will want to spend hours exploring and photographing the golden sand, turquoise water and forests of ferns. It’s hard to choose just one beach in Abel Tasman’s park, but Anchorage is one of the most beautiful with its long tongue of fine sand. Its location is also ideal because it is close to the Cleopatra Pools, a further worthy stop on your beach tour.
Tunnel Beach – Dunedin
Tunnel beach is a few miles south of Dunedin (South-East of the South Island). A short walk will allow you to access the beach below where you will be treated to unforgettable views such as a magnificent panorama of the cliffs carved by the ocean and a breathtaking view of the impressive limestone arch. However, the views do not stop there. Keep going to the end of the path and you will understand where this beach takes its name. You will find a tunnel which was dug out of the rock to allow access to the beach!
Tautuku Bay – Catlins
Often neglected by tourists, the region of Catlins is located in the extreme south of the country and is full of natural beauty around every corner. Expect waterfalls, wild beaches and wildlife watching including sea lions, yellow-eyed penguins and more, this is New Zealand. Tautuku Bay is a beautiful beach carved by nature, There is a perfect curve of white sand surrounded by a clear blue sea that neighbours a lush forest. For the best panoramic views of the beach, head to Florence Hill Lookout – you will not regret it!
Purakaunui Bay – Catlins
We end this series with the sublime beach of Purakaunui Bay, a marvel hidden in the Catlins. Few people venture there, rewarding you with the privilege of calm and serenity. The sandy beach is lined with jagged cliffs which regularly house sea lions basking in the sun. You can even spend a night camping nearby, which will allow an unmissable sunrise – an alarm clock you’ll never forget!
Have we missed your favourite beaches in New Zealand? Let us know in the comments!