Explore the best beaches in New Zealand’s North Island

New Zealand’s North Island is home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world. You’ll have a lot of variety to choose from, ranging from the incredible volcanic west coast beaches to the clear, turquoise waters of the picturesque east coast. Each beach has its own appeal, such as unique geological features, famous surf breaks, family-friendly amenities, local wildlife colonies and more. Whether you’re planning a family holiday, a romantic couple’s trip or an outdoor adventure with friends or on your own, take a look at the best beaches on New Zealand’s North Island to plan your itinerary.

Muriwai Beach for gannet sightings

The spectacular black sands and turquoise waters of Muriwai Beach make it one of the best of the North Island beaches. The beach is popular for swimming and surfing, but its biggest draw is the Gannet colony that frequents the cliffs near the sand. Muriwai Beach also has incredible sunsets that shine colours on the reflective black sand.

Piha Beach for rainforest treks

Located on the west coast near Auckland, Piha Beach is a huge beach destination for locals and visitors. The beach has volcanic black sand with lush rainforest surrounds that give it an otherworldly feel. Because rip tides and strong currents are common, Piha Beach has lifeguard patrol and designated swimming areas for children and inexperienced swimmers.

Hahei for family beach fun

Hahei is one of the most popular beaches on the Coromandel Peninsula. The stunning white-sand beach has very little surf, making it ideal for swimming and kayaking. Families often come to Hahei to enjoy sunbathing and beach games. If you want to explore, Hahei is close to Cathedral Cove, a beautiful beach with a unique geological formation.

Onetangi Beach for snorkelling

Onetangi Beach is one of the top beaches on Waiheke Island. You can take a ferry from the mainland to get to Waiheke Island and enjoy the picturesque beach with calm waters and excellent opportunities for kayaking and snorkelling. There’s a lot more to do around Onetangi Beach, such as going on a wine tour or trekking through the forest.

Mount Maunganui for family hikes

Mount Maunganui is an urban beach in Bay of Plenty with stunning white sand and warm seas. The beach is popular for trekkers after finishing the walk to the summit of Mount Maunganui, but many families and couples flock to the beach for its abundance of amenities in town. If you prefer more secluded spots, you can travel farther down the beach away from town to find a beach area to yourself.

Port Waikato Beach for children's outdoor activities

Port Waikato is a sleepy beach town that’s home to a picturesque black-sand beach with dramatic dunes and calm estuary waters. You’ll find a lot to do at Port Waikato Beach, such as surfing the famous breaks, trekking along the Waikato River and exploring Huka Falls. Fishing is also popular at both the beach areas and riverbanks. If you have the kids, the tidal estuaries are perfect for swimming and wading. At low tide, you can do some beachcombing to find unique stones and fossils.

Ngarunui Beach for a relaxing retreat

Located in a charming seaside town, Ngarunui Beach is a quiet beach with soft, white sand and a laid-back atmosphere. Families and couples enjoy the beach for its relaxed vibe and calm waters. If you like to surf, Ngarunui Beach is known for having a variety of surf breaks for different skill levels all along the shore, as well as surf schools to teach you the ropes.

Hot Water Beach for a natural spa

Hot Water Beach is a must-visit beach on a trip to New Zealand’s North Island. The beach is beautiful on its own, but when the tide recedes, the centre reveals thermal vents that heat the sand and water. You can dig a hole in the sand and relax in your own private, natural spa. You can enjoy plenty of other activities on the beach, such as sunbathing, swimming and water sports.