That little island that barely rates a mention on the map, pfft. When people think about the size of New Zealand that’s the general theory. Sure it’s got some awesome mountain scenery, everyone got to see that on The Lord of the Rings. What people seem to forget, is New Zealand is surrounded by water with sandy beaches dotted all around the country. They may not be beaches with picturesque water reefs meters offshore, but they have a rugged beauty about them. Battered by their prevailing winds these 6 charming New Zealand beaches are beautiful in their own right.
One last thing before we get started. New Zealand has a hole in the ozone layer therefore therefore the burn time is short and sunscreen is a must (tip no. 13 in this New Zealand guide). Unfortunately sunscreen is expensive to buy in New Zealand, so pro tip: buy it before you arrive.
Raglan Beach – A Surfing Haven
New Zealand’s world famous surf beach. Located a few hours outside of Auckland, Raglan certainly has the ‘surfy’ vibe about the place with laid back locals, backpackers learning to surf and the city slickers who enjoy the outdoors away from the desk.
Piha Beach – One Time You Don’t Want To Be On TV
Piha is well known to locals as the location for the TV show, Piha Rescue. As you would expect, it follows the activities of the members of Piha Surf Life Saving Club. Piha being an hour from Auckland gets flooded with visitors in the weekends, many who can’t swim, they underestimate the surf and don’t stay inside the flags. Sadly, Piha Rescue continues to make a great reality TV show.
White Rock – An Off The Beaten Track Adventure
White Rock is the least known beach of the six . Most kiwis, let alone internationals would not have heard of it. It wasn’t until I was working in Martinborough, a boutique wine region, and started looking for things to do in the weekends that White Rock appeared on the list. You have to drive 30 minutes on a gravel road to reach the place, but once you’re there you will definitely think ‘this is the real New Zealand’. And yes, there is a white rock at the beach on the Wairarapa Coast.
Waikanae Beach – Give It A Chance
I’m biased here, Waikanae Beach is where I grew up. When kiwis think of where to go the summer holidays, Waikanae doesn’t get a mention unless you have a relative there or are staying in Wellington and can only get a couple days off so can’t venture too far. The beach itself is great on a nice day, with the magical Kapiti Island offering the perfect background for the sunset. Definitely consider staying in the area for a couple days to relax.
Hokitika Beach – True Blue New Zealand
The former gold rush town of Hokitika had a tough time in the latter half of the 20th century but now finds itself becoming a popular spot for it’s laid back lifestyle. The town also gets plenty of people stopping by on a South Island road trip with the lunch of choice being fish ‘n’ chips on the beach.
St. Clair Beach – The Southern Surf Beach
St. Clair Beach is known as the South Island’s most popular surf beach. In addition to surfers, the beach also gets wealthy local residents enjoying their walks and to spice it up 10 minutes away is Dunedin, the student capital of New Zealand. While the waters aren’t always warm, the beach is large making it a great place to hang out with historical homes framing the waterfront.
When swimming in New Zealand, you’ll probably be best off wearing a wetsuit a lot of the time. Especially outside of the summer months but that doesn’t meant these 6 charming New Zealand beaches aren’t fun and nice places to hang out every day of the year.
At worst, you go beachcombing during the heavy seas and at best you have a wicked day at the beach with frequent dips in the ocean before a gorgeous sunset finishes off the day.