The 25+ Best North Island Beaches

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Sitting seemingly at the edge of the world is the amazingly beautiful island nation of New Zealand. Split between two main islands, North and South, both have their own very distinct, unique character and attractions.

The North Island is home to the capital of New Zealand, Wellington, as well as the country's largest city, Auckland. However the appeal for most visitors who visit the North Island lies in the alter-ego of the place: Middle Earth. With the majestic Mount Taranaki (or Mount Doom as fans will recognise it) rising up in the centre of the North Island and the set of The Hobbit films being brought to life by The Hobbiton attraction, there is plenty for film and book buffs alike to enjoy here.

If Tolkien isn't quite your thing, there's still so much to see and do on the North Island, particularly if you head to the coastal areas. From the windswept beauty of the Coromandel Peninsula that includes the iconic Cathedral Cove and geothermal Hot Water Beach to the stunningly beautiful Bay of Islands at the northern tip of the island, the beaches of the North Island attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

Whether you're looking for white sands and crystal clear waters, secluded, intimate coves or golden stretches to hang out with friends and family, there is a great beach on the North Island of New Zealand waiting for you.

  • 1. Whangamata Beach // Coromandel Peninsula

    Whangamata Beach
    Simon Morris
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Surfing
    • Kitesurfing

    Recently voted the best beach in the country by New Zealanders, Whangamata Beach is also famed for its breaks, and welcomes surfers from across the globe eager to tackle the left hand break of Whangamata Bar. But if you're not expert enough on a board to try your hand at this just yet, there are plenty of gentle peaks for even beginners to stand on a board for the first… read more »

  • 2. Otama Beach // Coromandel Peninsula

    Otama Beach
    © Pseudopanax@Wikimedia / CC BY
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Otama Bay lies 20 kilometres north of Whitianga, on the northeast coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. Its white sands stretch for two kilometres, protected on the landward side by low dunes. At its northernmost end there is a small stream and a rocky outcrop with some shady trees. The sands have a pleasing squeak when you walk over them, and are as close to pristine as its possible to… read more »

  • 3. Cathedral Cove // Coromandel Peninsula

    Cathedral Cove
    © muha04

    Cathedral Cove is considered by many to be the gem of the Coromandel Peninsula, which is quite an accolade given the stunning landscapes here. Set amongst the lush rolling landscape of the Coromandel Cathedral Cove is a small sandy beach backed by cliffs of white volcanic rock. At one end of the beach stands a towering sea stack of the same white rock, and like the cliffs small trees cling… read more »

  • 4. Mission Bay

    Mission Bay
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Mission Bay Beach lies on the southern coastline of Waitemata Harbour in Auckland's Eastern Bays region, roughly seven kilometres from the heart of New Zealand's biggest city. It is generally reached by enjoying the stunning vistas along Tamaki Drive. Those with an eye for landscapes will also want to visit Bastion Point, overlooking the expanse of the harbour, while even from the beach itself it is possible to glory in… read more »

  • 5. Hot Water Beach // Coromandel Peninsula

    Hot Water Beach
    Carsten Arsten
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming
    • Surfing

    Not your run-of-the-mill beach by any means, Hot Water Beach gets its name, not from the waters of the Pacific Ocean it meets, but from two underground naturally heated springs that well up through the soft sand two hours either side of low tide.

    Rent a spade from the onsite café and prepare your very own private spa, relaxing in mineral rich waters up to 64°C in temperature, just a few… read more »

  • 6. Piha beach

    Piha beach
    © Fyletto

    Piha is possibly New Zealand's best known beach and for good reason. Not only is the scenery stunning but this is the birthplace of surfing in New Zealand. In addition, Piha is less than an hour's drive from the centre of Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city.

    Despite being so close to the North Island's main city Piha remains relatively unspoilt. The beach backs onto the rugged and heavily forested coastline… read more »

  • 7. Mount Maunganui Beach // Bay of Plenty

    Mount Maunganui Beach

    Mt Maunganui beach is a beautiful, long stretch of pristine white sand in the holiday resort town of Mount Maunganui, less formally known as "The Mount". Together with Matakana Island, a massive sand bar to its north, Mount Maunganui forms the main entrance to Tauranga Harbour in the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand's North Island.

    Just to the north lies the spectacular Coromandel Peninsula with its beautiful beaches, whilst… read more »

  • 8. Little Palm Beach

    Little Palm Beach

    Little Palm beach sits next door to Palm beach in a relatively sheltered bay on Waiheke Island's north coast. It is yet another of the island's pristine beaches with a white sandy shoreline facing into clear blue sparkling waters.

    What makes Little Palm well known amongst a plethora of other beautiful beaches of Waiheke Island is its reputation as a naturist beach - in fact it is often referred… read more »

  • 9. Oke Bay // Bay of Islands

    Oke Bay
    © YHA-New-Zealand / CC BY

    Oke Bay is located near the village of Rawhiti in the Bay of Islands in the very North of New Zealand. This subtropical region consists of nearly 150 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula and is a water-lover's paradise. Known as a destination for whale and dolphin spotting, sailing and fishing the Bay of Islands area is home to any number of wonderful beaches, of which Oke Bay… read more »

  • 10. Onetangi Beach

    Onetangi Beach
    © trakesht / CC BY

    At nearly 2 km (1.2 miles) long, the north-facing Onetangi Beach is the longest on Waiheke Island. The local have taken full advantage of this fact and the beach has been home to the Onetangi Beach Horse Races for many years.

    Other activities the beach is well known for include the annual sandcastle-building contests; the soft sand, which is free from shells, is particularly suitable for the creation of some… read more »

  • 11. Takapuna Beach

    Takapuna Beach
    © Adam & Tess / CC BY

    Takapuna is sometimes referred to as the unofficial 'capital' of Auckland's North Shore - a series of coastal suburbs across Shoal Bay from the city centre. The Takapuna Beach area is the centre of the North Shore's nightlife, being home to many bars, restaurants, cafes and shops. It is also the main shopping centre of the North Shore.

    The beach here is a fine stretch of white sand looking out… read more »

  • 12. Medlands Beach

    Medlands Beach
    being grateful journal
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Surrounded by lush forest, Medlands Beach lies on Oruawharo Bay on the east coast of Great Barrier Island, just off New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula. It is linked to the North Island by regular ferry services to Tryphena, which last approximately an hour.

    Its pristine white sand is a favourite with both swimmers and surfers, with Medlands being the closest surf beach to Tryphena. Separated from the sands of Kaitoke Beach… read more »

  • 13. Karekare Beach

    Karekare Beach
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    The secluded black sands of Karekare Beach lie surrounded by dramatic cliffs just 35 kilometres from the centre of Auckland on North Island. Immortalised in rock group Crowded House's Together Alone album which was largely recorded nearby, and the Oscar-winning film The Piano in the same year, Karekare beach has been named one of the top 25 beaches in the world.

    Part of Karekare Regional Park, surfers regularly frequent the… read more »

  • 14. Matai Bay

    Matai Bay
    itravelNZ® (Natalia Volna)
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Matai Bay is a remote northern beach well worth the journey, boasting soft white sand and stunning clear waters. Lying on a large circular inlet of the Pacific on New Zealand's east coast, it offers some protection from the might of the ocean, making swimming, diving, fishing and boating all popular pastime activities for those who visit.

    Those who step beyond the native Pohutukawa trees that line the beach will find… read more »

  • 15. Tairua Beach // Coromandel Peninsula

    Tairua Beach
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Surfing
    • Kitesurfing

    Located on State Highway 25a on the opposite side of the bay from Pauanui, Tairua Beach is one of the most centrally-located beaches found on the North Island's epic Coromandel Peninsula, making it a great base for exploring the region as well as a beach destination of some standing in its own right.

    Tairua Beach sits at the base of the twin peaked Mount Paku, in an area of picturesque grandeur… read more »