Top 10 NZ beaches to visit this summer


Nothing beats a Kiwi summer - and what screams summer more than our beautiful beaches?

No doubt you'll be searching for the best sandy spots to set up camp while we're blessed with long, hot days. So we've compiled a list of the top beaches around the country that you just HAVE to get to, as rated on TripAdvisor:

10. Sumner Beach (Cave Rock), Christchurch

Just a 20-minute drive from Christchurch lies the idyllic seaside retreat of Sumner, perfect for a sunny day escape from the city. You can relax on the soft, white sand and catch some rays, or explore Cave Rock at low tide - climbing to the top will give you beautiful views of Sumner Bay, or venturing into the shadows will provide some much needed shade. There are plenty of cafés and bars to visit nearby, and the beach is patrolled by lifeguards between November and March to keep swimmers safe.

9. Aramoana Beach, Dunedin

About a 45-minute drive around Otago harbour with stunning views of the coast, you'll come to Aramoana Beach. Split by a long breakwater named The Mole, which you can walk along and spot albatrosses swooping into Taiaroa Head on the other side of the harbour. You might also spy some sealions sunbathing on the rocks, and if you're feeling adventurous, bring along a bodyboard to slide down the sand dunes. This gorgeous white sand beach is the perfect day trip escape.

8. Whangamata Beach, Whangamata

One of the country's most famous surfbreaks, Whangamata attracts surfers from all around the world. The golden white sand beach is perfect for relaxing in the sun, and safe for families with a flagged area patrolled by lifeguards all summer long. You'll get great views of Donut Island (Whenuakura) which you can explore by kayak, or visit one of the estauries at either end of the 4km long beach to do some stand-up paddleboarding. 

7. Ohope Beach, Whakatane

This north-facing beach gets a full arc of sunshine on summer days, meaning warm, safe water to swim in all day long. Stretching 11km along the coast, Ohope offers an easily walkable white sand oasis. A 15-minute walk from the West End of Ohope will bring you to the secluded beach of Otarawairere, only accessible by foot or kayak - you'll be treated to a peaceful shelly beach surrounded by Pohutukawa trees.

6. Ninety Mile Beach, Kaitaia 

Ok so it isn't actually 90 miles long - it's actually "only" 88kms - but that doesn't make this beach any less spectacular. The beach is officially a highway, so you can drive along the strecthing coast, making for a pretty unique experience (4WDs are recommended). World-renowned for it's amazing surf, surrounded by towering sand dunes, and boasting spectacular sunsets, Ninety Mile Beach really does have it all.

5. Kaiteriteri Beach, Kaiteriteri

Making lists of the top beaches in the world for years, Kaiteriteri should definitely be on every Kiwi's bucket list. It's golden sand and the most sunshine hours of anywhere in New Zealand are major drawcards for this summer hotspot, as well as being surrounded by three national parks. An hour's easy drive out of Nelson, the warm water and plenty of space to spread out, along with it's gorgeous scenery have many Kiwi's arguing this as the best beach in the country. You'll find plenty of campgrounds in the area to make the most of the getaway but you'll have to get in quick - they usually book out months in advance.

4. Papamoa Beach, Papamoa

This Bay of Plenty gem is perfect for your classic Kiwi summer holiday. Complete with ideal fishing, surfing, and swimming patrolled all summer long, there's something for everyone. The beach is very wide, leaving plenty of room for beach sports and run-arounds, and you can even dig for pipis in the sand anywhere along the shore - yum!

3. Hot Water Beach, Coromandel

Another Kiwi summertime must-do, Hot Water Beach has an atmosphere you won't experience anywhere else. The best time to visit is two hours either side of low tide, when you can dig your very own thermal hot pool in the sand - water can be up to 64 degrees celcius though, so be careful! At high tide the beach features dramatic surf, but can be dangerous for swimmers. There are plenty of secluded spots along the coastline for some sunbathing away from the action. 

2. Piha Beach, Piha

It wouldn't be a list of best NZ beaches without featuring one of our famed black sand beauties! Piha is one of NZ's most famous surf beaches, with it's wild waves and strong currents - it is patrolled in summer by surf lifesavers, but we still recommend swimming with caution. A 45-minute drive west of Auckland, Piha is not only great for lazing on the beach, but also exploring the amazing surrounding landscape. You can get some amazing views from Tasman Lookout, a short 1km walk from the beach, or you can climb the famed Lion Rock (Te Piha). Lion Rock is sacred to Te Kawerau a Maki people so please be respectful when climbing, and you will be rewarded with stunning 360 views.

1. Mount Maunganui Main Beach, Mount Maunganui

And of course, number one - A stunning white sand surf beach that is the absolute opitimy of Kiwi summer, Mount Maunganui truly has it all. You'll see multiple ocean and beach sports taking place here, alongside sunbathers, walkers and cafe-goers across the street. Perhaps most famous is 'The Mount' itself, rising 232 metres above sea-level. You can walk up to the summit of this extinct volcano for stunning 360 views of the Bay Of Plenty - a must do for every Kiwi. No wonder it features on numerous lists of the best beaches in the world.