Escape Travel

5 of the Best Beaches in New Zealand

If you ever ask a Kiwi what their favorite beach is in Aotearoa New Zealand, chances are you’ll never hear the same answer twice! Across both the North Island and South Island there are many stunning beaches to escape to. From the coastline beach of Allans Bay in Dunedin to beaches with breathtaking views like Wharariki Beach in Nelson-Tasman. From sculpted cliffs to mystical caves, we rounded up the country’s most unique beach spots to cool off on your next trip across the Tasman.

Wharariki Beach – Nelson Tasman, South Island

This rugged and secluded beach at the northernmost tip of the South Island is well worth the trip to this remote location. Wharariki Beach is one of the most photographed beaches in the region and it’s not hard to see why, perched just offshore are two magnificent rock archways that ascend from the wild sea below. Fun fact, you might even recognize these rock formations from your Microsoft Windows 10 lock screen! Wharariki Beach is best suited to exploring on foot rather than swimming – and there’s so much to cover! Stroll around the enormous dunes, explore the mesmerizing caves and caverns while glancing at the wild, lush nature of the west coast.

Koekohe Beach – Waitaki, South Island

Located in Waitaki, Koekohe Beach is known for the unique, mystically shaped Moeraki Boulders which are nestled along the shoreline. While scientists have dated the formation of the rocks to approximately 65 million years ago, according to Māori legend the boulders are gourds that washed ashore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall. The Moeraki Boulders are a must see! A drive along the North Otago coast isn’t complete without a stop to see them.

Stewart Island / Rakiura – South Island

Stewart Island / Rakiura is home to some of the world’s most untouched habitats. On Rakiura, which means the ‘land of the glowing skies,’ it is not uncommon to witness the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) after a long day spent admiring the clear turquoise sea and white sandy beaches. While you’re there, don’t miss out on the chance to see Tokoeka or brown kiwi birds, which actually outnumber human occupants on the island. If you’re lucky enough, you may also see some blue penguins or even the rare yellow-eyed penguins amongst the rocks!

Gillespies Beach, West Coast, South Island

Gillespies Beach is just shy of a 30 minute drive from the Fox Glacier Township and is a true hidden gem. Enjoy views of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana and Gillespies Lagoon, or uncover the forgotten gold mining history, with remnants and relics from a bygone time found along the coastal walk.

Kekerengu Beach – Kaikoura, South Island

This black sand beach is complemented by rugged plains and crystal-clear water, making Kekerengu a stunning backdrop for any photo. You can stay down by this long stretch of coastline at The Store Camp, where the beachside sites offer the occasional sighting of seals, penguins, dolphins and other wildlife that frequents the area. The beach is also popular with surfers though is not for the faint of heart, with rocky points, surf breaks close to shore and beach breaks that are both right and left depending on the swell angle, bound to challenge any confident surfer!

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