12 secret beaches to discover in New Zealand

Travellers, get your bucket lists out.

Lovely beach

New Zealand is famous for its bungee jumps, white water rafting and other hair-raising active adventures.

But if you know where to look, there's plenty rather more laid back beach pursuits to be had. Here are some of our faves up North for when you need a break from backpacking.

  1. 1 O’Neill Bay, Auckland West

    The only way to get to this bay is by foot, but the trek from Bethells Beach will not disappoint. Exposed, rocky and stark, this beach is excellent for surfing and fishing. Or watching people fish and surf.

    Source: Flickr

    Find it here:

  2. 2 Karioitahi Beach, Auckland West

    This is a stunning wide sandy beach - and black sand to boot. As well as the active pursuits of surfing, fishing, horse riding and paragliding, the shallow tide lets you pad about in the sea without having to take the plunge. Quieter than some of its neighbouring beaches, this is an easy-access beach if you need a break from Auckland.

    Find it here:

  3. 3 Te Arai Beach, Auckland North
    Source: Flickr

    Over on the other coast, lies Te Arai beach, with its long stretch of bright white sand. Much quieter than some of Auckland's other East Coast beaches, this is perfect for a calm hideaway.

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    Sometimes you can even see seal pups!

    Source: Flickr
  4. 4 Pt Chevalier Beach, Auckland West
    Source: Pt Chevalier Beach

    This city beach is part of the Auckland suburbs so easy to reach for an afternoon. It has plenty of trees to keep you shaded from the powerful Australasian sun and has a laid back vibe. Here you can jump off the summer pontoons, swim in the sea or just sit on the beach with a barbie.

    Find it here:

  5. 5 Matauri Bay, Whangaroa, north of Bay Islands, Northland
    Source: Flickr

    Get further away from the big city and you can spend some real quality time with golden sands. This isolated beach with crystal clear aqua waters is a stunner, and quiet to boot. If you have your own transport, head up north for the spectacular views of the ocean and Cavalli Islands - they're well worth the drive.

    Find it here:

  6. 6 Piha Beach, Auckland West
    Source: Scott Venning

    If you're bored of chilling, this is the best place to head for some surf lessons. Set against the forest you can even combine beach-lazing with a hike. Or just lay back and let the surfers impress.

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  7. 7 Tawharanui Beach, North of Auckland
    Source: Flickr

    This one's set in a marine reserve of a regional park, where the water's so clear and the sand so golden it has to be seen to be believed, you’d be silly not to visit.

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  8. 8 Ninety-mile beach, Northland

    So they lie, it's not 90 miles (it's actually 90km but that doesn't sound as good does it?) Known as the never-ending paradise, this beach is home to one of the world’s best left hand surf breaks. Even if you don’t surf, go to watch the spectacular sunsets, drive a buggy on the sand dunes (and give sand boarding a go!), and play in the waves.

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  9. 9 Takapuna beach, Auckland North
    Source: Flickr

    Easily accessible with soft white sand, this city beach has fabulous views out to volcanic Rangitoto Island. Great if you can't make it too far away from the city.

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  10. 10 Doubtless Bay, Northland
    Source: Flickr

    This is a real escape. As well as the beach, there are heritage trails and historic buildings from one of the early sites discovered by Captain Cook. Sealife fans can watch for orcas and dolphins while relaxing on the caramel sands. Snorkelling, sailing and fishing are all common pursuits you can try your hand at too.

  11. 11 Palm Beach, Waiheke Island
    Source: Flickr

    A short ferry ride from Auckland is Waiheke island, a treasure trove of beautiful beaches, little coastal towns, zip lining adventures and wineries.

    One of the cutest beaches is Palm Beach. If you're lucky you might even see an orca making its way past

    Find it here:

    Inspired to visit? STA Travel offers a 24-day New Zealand Encompassed package from £2229 per person including activities, accommodation, meals, a local guide and all transport between destinations and to/from activities.

    Return economy flights from London Heathrow start at £575 per person. The tour starts in Auckland and finishes in Wellington. To book please visit www.statravel.com, call 0800 988 0390 or visit one of the STA Travel stores.

    Find out more about everything you can do in New Zealand at www.newzealand.com.

    Feature image: Flickr