Known for their stunning beauty and rugged backdrop, the volcanic black-sand beaches of New Zealand are a popular spot for a seaside retreat. Beaches near Auckland holiday rentals and Raglan holiday rentals boast dramatic black sands and a rocky backdrop that attract sunbathers, nature lovers, artists, families and surfers, all looking for time in the sun. Along with days lounging under the sun, the beaches offer opportunities for blokarting, paragliding, horse treks, family beach activities and more. Whether you want to relax with family, enjoy thrilling water sports or find inspiration in the picturesque environment, take a look at the best black-sand beaches in NZ to plan your trip.

Karekare, Auckland for adventure

Karekare holiday rentals are found in a small settlement nestled between the Waitākere Ranges and a black-sand beach. The beach is known for being one of the wildest in the country, home to strong surf and rips, which attract surfers and adventurers. There’s a lot to do on land near the beach, such as trekking through the forest to see the spectacular Karekare Falls and enjoy a dip in the plunge pool. The kids will enjoy having a picnic near the waterfall and taking in the views of the dramatic coast.

Piha, Auckland for family fun

One of New Zealand’s iconic black-sand beaches, Piha offers rock pools for little ones to play and spectacular surf breaks for a bit of adventure. Near the beach, you’ll find bushwalks that take you along rugged coastal rainforests with waterfalls and wildlife. You could also see Lion Rock, a volcanic monolith that’s home to war memorials and Maori carvings. If you want thrills, you can rent water sports equipment for surfing, kiteboarding and more.

Bethells Beach, Auckland for surfing and outdoor fun

Located in the Auckland Region, Bethells Beach has long foredunes that frame the black sands and give the beach an intimate, secluded feel. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, you can explore the sea caves that are revealed at low tide or take a trek to the nearby O’Neils Bay to watch the surfers on the prominent breaks. Lake Wainamu is close to the beach and can be reached on a challenging hike across the dunes to enjoy the views and time on the water.

Ngarunui Beach, Raglan for active teens

A popular beach year-round, Ngarunui Beach draws families with children, couples looking for romance and surfers. The beach is known for its powerful surf, strong rips and deep holes, but there’s plenty more fun to be had. Visitors can take a horse trek on the sand, kitesurf or windsurf, surf fish, canoe, kayak and beachcomb.

Muriwai, Auckland for surfing and birdwatching

Muriwai has a long coastline that stretches 60 kilometres with streams and rivers that feed into the sea. Known as one of the best black-sand surf beaches, Muriwai brings the top surfers from all over to take on the challenging breaks. If you want to learn how to surf, the Muriwai Surf School offers instruction and rentals. Muriwai is also home to an incredible gannet colony for birdwatching opportunities.

Black Beach, Taranaki for watersports

Back Beach is a sandy stretch of black sand with powerful waves and great swells that are sheltered by the rocky coast, perfect for surfing. Many onlookers relax on the sand or in the grassy reserves to watch the surfers in action or enjoy some sun. Other popular activities at Back Beach include horse treks, wind and kite surfing and sea canoeing and kayaking.

Whatipu Beach, Auckland for wildlife sightings

Located near the Manukau Harbour, Whatipu Beach is a remote beach on the west coast of North Island that’s only accessible via a gravel road. The rugged beach is recognised as a scientific reserve and features dramatic sea caves that you can explore during your visit. The black sand backs up against the turquoise Tasman Sea, which is home to penguins, seals and whales. Nearby, you can hike through the wild vegetation on the cliffs to see local wildlife and take in the views of the coast.