New Zealand is known for plenty of things: sheep, stunning scenery, Māori culture, and, of course, being the film location of the “Lord of Rings” movie trilogy. While you won’t see Frodo walking around in board shorts, you can find a bounty of locals enjoying the famous New Zealand beaches. Just remember that in this hemisphere, the best time of year for a refreshing dip in the ocean is during the Kiwi summer of December through February. From surfing shorelines to natural hot springs, these beaches in Down Under are where you want to be:
Swell Time on Piha
With incredible swells and waves, Piha is arguably New Zealand’s most famous surfing beach. Located in West Auckland, Piha Beach boasts dark sand, refreshing breezes, and a stunning backdrop of the Waitakere Mountain Range. If you’re looking for amazing photography opportunities, this is the spot. Of course, it’s also a fantastic place for those who want to hang ten, but be warned that you won’t be “board” with these waves. They are notoriously large and not meant for beginners.
Hot Water Holes
Hole for one, anybody? At Hot Water Beach, you’ll never be happier to dig yourself into a hole. Located on Coromandel Peninsula, this is one beach where the sand is rarely pristine. Instead, you’ll find dozens or even hundreds of fresh water holes, caused by coastal springs bubbling up from below the sand. The shallow water is warm and full of things like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, inviting visitors to recline and perhaps recover from a day of drinking like a true Kiwi. You might be in hot water, but there is no better place to be than this stunning and relaxing beach.
A 26-Mile Mistake
What’s the weirdest thing about Ninety Mile Beach? Not that it is the longest stretch of beach in all of New Zealand, but that the name of the beach is actually a mistake! In reality, Ninety Mile Beach is a mere 64 miles (102 km). Don’t fret—there is still more than enough golden sand to spend a day or two. Ninety Mile Beach is located in Cape Reinga on New Zealand’s North Island, and it is one of the top places to fish for snapper. Skip the beach midmorning, when it’s mostly full of tourists stopping by on tour buses for a few quick pictures. Instead, visit at sunset when you can see all 90, er…64, miles in its glory.
Want to show off what you’ve got down under? New Zealand is home to a number of nude-friendly beaches, sometimes called free beaches, where swimsuits are not required. Waitata Bay, in the Bay of Islands, is one of the most popular nude beaches. Although it is just a few miles from a naturist resort, the beach is a public space where anyone is welcome. Clothing is optional, but you’ll still find plenty of swimsuited families and sun worshipers enjoying the warm New Zealand weather.
At the southern tip of the South Island, you’ll find a small beach known as Curio Bay. It’s the ultimate place for wildlife viewing, as it boasts everything from dolphins playing right off the coast to sea lions and even penguins coming onto the sand. One of the most curious things about Curio Bay, however, is that it is not unusual to see sheep right on the sand! This isn’t a ewe-phemism: it really does combine the two biggest stereotypes of New Zealand in one truly gorgeous setting.
New Zealand is a fantastic place to visit, even if you aren’t a fantasy fiction geek in search of a hobbit. The North and South Islands boast amazing beaches as well as stunning scenery, great waves, and even a few sheep. What more kiwi possibly ask for?
Which New Zealand beach is your top pick to visit?