Just like any other island nation New Zealand has a close link to the sea and that means it’s natives have a fond affection for the beach – but which are the nation’s favourites?
Will the black sands and dramatic scenery of the west top our list, or the gentle dunes of the top of the North Island?
7 Coopers Beach
Coopers’ is in the far north and is 300km north of Auckland, but you can visit it during our New Zealand tours when we stop in the Bay of Islands.
It’s the sort of beautiful sun soaked beach which features in tourism adverts and it also has hidden secrets.
Pick your way around the rocks at the north end of the beach at low tide to discover a beautiful secret cove which may be one of the most picturesque in the country.
When you think of Christchurch and its beaches, Sumner is the one that immediately springs to mind. More than North Brighton it epitomises the city’s connection to the sea.
It’s even formed the basis of a radio advert made by the city’s tourist chiefs: “As Christchurch as fish and chips on Sumner Beach”, the campaign says.
The beach is just a few km from the city centre but has clean salt air and golden sands. It’s also an ideal family beach which slopes gently into the sea.
5 Waihi Beach
The Bay of Plenty has, as you’d expect, plenty of wonderful beaches. Waihi is one of our favourites – a golden sanded stunner with several lovely cafes and a market on the beachfront.
It’s also got added interest as the town of Waihi is known for gold mining, which makes for some interesting bush walking in the area. The Karangahake Gorge walk is one of the most popular as it includes an old rail tunnel – walking it really is fascinating.
4 Oriental Bay
The stunning Oriental Bay is widely acknowledged as being the best beach in Wellington, for reasons which become obvious once you visit it.
With the beach being right in the middle of the city you can enjoy the rare experience of swimming in crystal clear waters not far from a shopping centre.
3 Mt Maunganui
Another Bay of Plenty beach, Mount Maunganui is famous for the mountain which overshadows it.
The beach itself is a pretty one, where you can enjoy a swim and sunbathe amongst the crowds, but the reason we’ve put it on our list is because it’s the starting point for a walk up the mountain.
Complete the relatively untaxing walk and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views for more than 20 miles in all directions.
Piha is just a half hour drive west of Auckland and is a wonderful beach to visit on your Auckland Freedom Day of our coach tours of New Zealand.
It’s an amazing place to visit, with a huge rocky outcrop called Lion Rock standing at 100 feet high in the middle of a vast expanse of sand. You can climb the rock and enjoy the sort of views that make the effort of walking up it well worthwhile.
It’s also popular with surfers, as its swells are so famous there’s a TV show about its surf life-saving club. It’s even popular with blue penguins, which can occasionally be spotted playing in the surf.
1 Rabbit Island
The 8-kilometre stretch of pale sand at Rabbit Island just outside Nelson is an ideal place to visit on your Nelson Freedom Day of our guided New Zealand tours.
It has golden dunes which offer plenty of privacy if you want a quiet day at the beach and it’s also safe for swimming and has a vast array of picnic spots.
The organisation and communication were first class. The flexibility in travelling to the destination was impressive and the hotels where we stayed in were all of a good standard. Our Coach was driven by Ken, who was a character and nothing was too much for him.
Mr & Mrs Hall, Magnificent New Zealand
We both enjoyed the Magnificent New Zealand holiday immensely. The Coach Driver/Tour Guide was excellent and the hotels were really comfortable. The holiday was extremely good value and I would recommend it to anyone waning to taste the Antipodean holiday experience.
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