New Zealand is a beautiful small island nation in the Pacific with various crazy great beaches for you to choose when you have a vacation here. It’s really hard to finalize which ones are the best beaches in New Zealand because each has its own beauty and uniqueness. With every different goal, one will have his own list of best beaches. In this post, based on some criteria like reputation, popularity, convenience… here is the list of best destinations that you can consider for your next summer vacation with your family.
Abel Tasman National Park, South Island, New Zealand
A note for all: Summer (from December to February) is the most popular time to visit New Zealand. But the point is the UV rays in its sunlight very strong. The sunlight here can quickly burn skin in this period of the year, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, even on cloudy days. So before going outdoors, you need to remember to wear a hat, sunglasses and apply sunscreen every two hours.
The Best Beaches in New Zealand - 2020 Updated
1. Mt Maunganui, Bay of Plenty
Mount Maunganui - or Mauao, as locals refer to it, is a suburb of the Tauranga area, located on a peninsula to the north-east of Tauranga's city center. Tauranga is located on the east coast of New Zealand, about 200km southeast of Aukland - New Zealand's largest city and about 420 km south of Wellington - the nation's capital. This place is called the beach paradise and the main beach is consistently voted New Zealand's best for its surf, beachside cafes, and immense long white sandy beach. It’s a perfect place to swim, learn to surf or just relax for all members of your family.
Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, New Zealand
There are plenty of activities to choose from to spend your day here. First of all, of course, it’s learning to surf. The Main Beach in Mount Maunganui is an ideal place to learn it. There are plenty of surf schools along the beach that offer lessons for people of all abilities. Or you just put on your walking shoes and take a base track of Mauao – one of the must-do activities in the Bay of Plenty.
Mt. Maunganui, Tauranga, New Zealand
It takes about 50 minutes to finish this walk and the gift for you is the amazing panoramic views across Tauranga and the Pacific Ocean. Other activities are swimming with dolphins, orca watching and kayak tour across Lake McLaren …. And do not forget to discover The Little Big Markets here to immerse yourself in local arts, crafts, and delicious food.
Top tips: Dogs are strictly not permitted in the area of the main beach and Mount Maunganui so make sure not to take along your pets when coming here. Penalty for breach of by law is $300
2. Kaiteriteri Beach, Tasman
Kaiteriteri Beach is fifteen minutes’ drive north of Motueka. This beach has the highest usage of any beach in Tasman District. It’s located on the way to the Abel Tasman National Park - New Zealand’s smallest and most popular national park. Kaiteriteri Beach is famous for its golden sand and safe swimming, along with camping and recreational facilities.
If you’re planning a holiday with your children, I must tell you that this beach is the best choice for you. For it is an amazing beach for kids safe with flat calm water, besides that it has a river running in from the mountains which makes great pools for the kids to play in and there’re loads of shops and other facilities right by the beach.
Early morning beach at Kaiteriteri
Other highly recommended services here are kayaking or paddleboarding around the bay, taking a scenic cruise into the National Park, paddle a canoe out to Split Apple Rock…. And before you go out, make sure to check your phone and its memory card because they will run out of battery so much quicker than you think.
Top tips: During the peak Christmas-February period the beach has between 700 and 1500 visitors a day, so if you not really like a crowded beach, you can plan to stay here in the remaining months. You can enjoy The Kaiteriteri natural beauty without having trouble in finding a spot to park or hotel accommodation and have the best opportunities for photos.
3. Cathedral Cove, Coromandel
Cathedral Cove is in the southern part of Mercury Bay on the Coromandel Peninsula. It is one of the most attractive tourist spots in the Coromandel and is one of the most Kiwis' favorite holiday destinations by its cavern such as a natural rock archway. Its unique scenery makes it become a must-do of most photographers in New Zealand. The beach is surrounded by an unbelievable natural beauty with gorgeous white sands and is a perfect place for a picnic and a swim.
Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
Cathedral Cove can be accessed only on foot, boat, or kayak. It takes 45 minutes to walk on foot from the car park to the beach. You can walk through the famous rock arch during low tide which usually lasts for 2 hours. And at that time it’s dry inside the cave and you can catch up with the best part of this beach by some perfect shots. There is another way to explore the breathtaking coastline of the Cove is by kayak or if you'd prefer to experience the underwater world let book a dive tour. You can also do a 1-hour boat tour from Hahei Beach. This tour is also easier than walking and offers the chance to see marine animals such as whales, dolphins, seals, and penguins.
Footprints on the sand beach, Cathedral Cove, Hahei, New Zealand
Top tips: Peak season in Cathedral Cove is from December until May. At this time, the car park can get full quickly so to ensure you can get a space, let arrive before 10.00 am. Or the easiest way is to stay in accommodation which is near to the Cove and including free parking. And another important note is there is not any shop to buy food or beverages, so bring enough water and food for your picnic.
4. Queenstown Bay
Queenstown is not only famous for its mountain views, adventure sports, and nightlife, but also for its great beaches as Queenstown Bay Beach. The Queenstown Bay is the main beach of downtown Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It is an ideal playground for those who love thrills and challenges such as jet boats, bungee jumping, skydiving, paragliding… Although it is a small beach with a short strip of sand, with its amazing whole scene you can easily take a photo here and make it become a postcard.
The adventure capital of the world! Queenstown, New Zealand
The beach is also great for strolling along or some sunbathing. You can bring some food here and eat them by the water; lay down a towel and bask in the sunshine and take a swim in the cool, contrasting blue water to finish your lazy day in a great way.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Top tips: If you intend to bring some takeaway and eat them at the beach, congratulation, you’re not the only one with this idea. This action may attract plenty of seagulls; so be prepared you may need to share your food with them.
5. Ninety Mile Beach, North Land
Ninety Mile Beach (also known as Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē) is on the western coast of the far north of the North Island of New Zealand. It is a long sandy beach with actually 88 kilometers (55 miles) long and there is a story for explaining its name that you can explore when you get there. The beach is officially a public highway, though mainly used for tourist trips. Not like three beaches above with a wide range of recreational services, the Ninety Mile Beach attracts tourists with its breathtaking view. You can see an unspoiled beauty in both directions for as far as you could see, and mostly empty of people.
Ocean coast at sunset
If you are looking for a place to refresh yourself after a hard lifetime, to heal your soul, this beach is perfect for you. You just need to come here, stand in one spot to open your mind with the scene before your eyes. Hearing the sounds and smelling the sea you can realize how your soul changed and relaxed and it’s worth a trip to get here. You can add more fun into your trip here with some activities like taking an experienced tour along the beach or surfing down on a bodyboard at Te Paki Stream, at the northern end of Ninety Mile Beach.
Top tips: It’s not recommended for you to drive on the beach. Your vehicle may get damaged or get stuck in the sand. And please do sand surfing under the instruction of your driver-guide as there may have some risks involved.
Well, through this post, I hope that you have found the right destination for your family in the upcoming summer vacation. And don't forget to share your experiences with us in the comments section below. Thank you!