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Five Great Beaches in New Zealand

Five Great Beaches in New Zealand

New Zealand has some great beaches and it is almost impossible to choose a top five. However, here is our choice and all are some great places to soak up some sun. Do be careful in the water, however; drowning is the leading cause of recreational death in New Zealand and the third highest cause of accidental death.

So our top five, in no particular order of beauty, are Cathedral Cove (Te Whanganui-A-Hei), Ninety Mile Beach, Mount Maunganui Beach, Koekohe Beach, and Oneroa Beach, one of several beautiful beaches on Waiheke Island.

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

Cathedral Cove

This stunning beach includes a natural arch on the Coromandel coast in the North Island with a view of the pumice rock known as 'Te Hoho' in the clear waters beyond. From Auckland, Cathedral Cove (Te Whanganui-A-Hei) is about 2 hours, 20 minutes by car on State Highways 1 and 25. There are also local buses from Ferry Landing across Mercury Bay from Whitianga.

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Ninety Mile Beach
Ninety Mile Beach

Ninety Mile Beach

Ninety Mile Beach (Te-Oneroa-a-Tōhē) at the tip of the North Island on the Aupouri Peninsula is actually 55 miles long (88 km). The beach is designated as a public highway as an alternative to State Highway 1! Of course, Jeremy Clarkson drove down it for an episode of Top Gear.

The huge stretch of sand is a favourite with surfers and offers some incredible sunsets. On the other side of the peninsula is another great beach, Rarawa Beach. Nearby Te Kao offers the best range of accommodation near the beach.

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Tauranga Bay
Tauranga Bay and beach seen from Mt Maunganui

Mount Maunganui Beach

Mount Maunganui Beach (aka Ocean Beach) in Tauranga (which means "safe anchorage" in Maori by the way) is great for both swimming and surfing. Safe areas are marked by flags and there are lifeguards on duty during the summer months. There are always beach volleyball games and sandcastle-building contests going on for the kids. This 20 km-long stretch of beach is very popular with Kiwis on holiday and gets very busy, especially at New Year.

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A boys points to the sea from beside a Moeraki Boulder.
A boy points out to sea from beside a Moeraki Boulder

Koekohe Beach

Koekohe Beach, in New Zealand's South Island, showcases the extraordinary Moeraki Boulders. The boulders are a geological feature that look almost artificial in their spherical perfection.

The rocks give the beach the look of a fantasy landscape. Not only are they ball-shaped, but they have almost regular-looking cracks all over them - some filled with crystals, which look like pale cement. This gives them a sort of "turtle shell" look. They are even a little reminiscent of textbook pictures of the human brain!

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Oneroa Beach, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Oneroa Beach, Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Oneroa Beach

Oneroa Beach is one of several beautiful beaches on Waiheke Island, 20 km east of Auckland. It's a favourite spot over Christmas and New Year with lots and shade and things to do from kayaking to paddleboarding to lazing over a barbeque and beer.

As Waiheke Island is so close to Auckland Airport, international travellers often unwind here before or after a long flight. There are ferries to Matiatia Wharf on Waiheke Island from the Ferry Building in Auckland and a car ferry from Half Moon Bay to Kennedy Point.

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