From the picturesque Coromandel Peninsula to the quiet bays of Abel Tasman, New Zealand is home to many incredible beach destinations with white or golden sands, clear, turquoise waters and a lot to see and do. Ideal for families and adventurers alike, New Zealand’s beaches offer everything from surfing and kayaking to wildlife viewing to sunbathing and picnics with the kids, all with charming beach communities nearby. Whether you’re planning a family retreat, a romantic holiday or an adventure trip on your own, take a look at the best beaches in New Zealand to plan your trip to a coastal paradise.
Kaiteriteri Beach for family fun
Boasting some of the longest sunshine hours of any beach in New Zealand, Kaiteriteri Beach is ideal for sunbathers. Located at the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, the beach features golden sands and turquoise waters. You can spend your day sunbathing and swimming with the kids while wildlife like penguins, dolphins and seals pass by, or you can head out into the park to walk along the extensive tracks in the forest. You could also kayak around the coves and lagoons near the beach.
Whangamata Beach for surfing
Home to one of New Zealand’s most famous surf breaks, Whangamata Beach is a popular spot for experienced surfers and water sports enthusiasts. The estuaries surrounding the beach are excellent for kayaking and paddle boarding. Whangamata Beach is also one of the closest beaches to Whenaukura, or Donut Island, an island with an incredible turquoise lagoon for swimming and kayaking with the whole family.
Omaha Beach seaside amusements
Omaha Beach has stunning white sand and excellent beginner surf breaks with lifeguard patrol. The beach is a great spot to learn to surf or paddle board, but it’s also ideal for families looking for a quiet day by the water. The estuary has a harbour with historic sites, shops and eateries, and you’ll find bowling greens, tennis courts, walking tracks and playgrounds nearby.
Gemstone Beach for beachcombing
Named for the changing state of its sand and stones that are altered by storms and tides, Gemstone Beach is the perfect spot for beachcombing with the kids. Plenty of people travel to Gemstone Beach for fossicking and beachcombing because it's common to find unique and interesting stones here. Gemstone Beach is also popular for surfing and boasts some of the best breaks in all of New Zealand.
Mahia Beach for kid-friendly amenities
Mahia Beach is a family-friendly beach on Hawke’s Bay that’s known for its clean sand and quiet, gentle swimming waters. The nearby town has a lot of amenities, such as shops and eateries, and you could enjoy golf, fishing, tramping and surfing. One of the best treks is the track that leads to Mokotahi Lookout, a vista point on the top of the Mokotahi Hill.
Akitio Beach coastal hiking
Known for its rocky shoreline and dunes, Akitio Beach is a rugged beach with a heritage fishing village and historic homesteads. Along with swimming and sunbathing, you could camp out at the beach campsite with the kids, hike among the dunes or tour the attractions and historic sites around town for an educational experience.
Ninety Mile Beach outdoor adventure
Ninety Mile Beach is a long stretch of coastline that features many incredible beaches from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga. Many of the beaches have golden sands and gentle waters, though you’ll find excellent surf and water sports areas along the coast. The Aupouri Forest is the backdrop, which has walking tracks, streams and waterfalls to see wildlife with the whole family
Awaroa for remote wildlife sightings
Awaroa is a golden-sand beach with turquoise seas that’s surrounded by lush native forest. The beach is only accessible by boat or on foot, so it retains much of its natural splendour and rarely gets crowded. The surrounding area is a protected ecosystem, so you’ll often see coastal birds with nesting areas around the beach for a unique experience with the kids.
New Chums Beach for a wild beach landscape
Located on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Chums Beach is an unspoilt beach with no road access and stunning natural beauty. The golden-sand beach is surrounded by lush bushland and offers sheltered, calm waters for swimming. The water is crystal-clear, giving the beach appeal for water sports enthusiasts like surfers and snorkellers. Nearby, the settlement of Kuaotunu has shops and eateries.