Sandwiched between two great bodies of water, it’s no surprise that the Auckland area has some astoundingly beautiful beaches in its vicinity. The city limits stretch to cover all kinds of sandy outcrops, from popular golden bays that are always full of sunbathers to more secluded spots that need a little bit of effort to get to. With that said, even the most exotic beaches can be visited on day trips. Whether you’re with the family and want to escape the bustle of the main city, or just fancy lounging under the sun with a terrible book for a few hours, read ahead for our guide to the best Auckland beaches and bays.
Around a forty-minute drive from the heady heights of the Auckland Sky Tower is the Auckland suburb of Orewa, home to the two-and-a-bit mile long Orewa Beach. A fantastic spot for surfers and other kinds of water sports enthusiasts thanks to good winds, it’s also ideal for families as it has lots of parking and nearby amenities like restaurants and stores.
The beach itself is beautiful, especially at sunrise when the golden sand shimmers with the promise of a new day. The water is usually quite welcoming, especially in summer, and every Sunday there’s a Farmers Market just a short walk from the shore. All in all, an ideal beach experience for almost everyone.
Just under an hour outside of the city, this Auckland beach is a little more rugged and secluded than some others on this list. That means if you want to bask in sun with just the sounds of lapping waves and the occasional gull squawk, this is the spot for you. With that said, it’s also considered one of the best surfing beaches on North Island, so if the swell is up, you might have some company.
The beach is part of Tawharanui Regional Park, and the intellectually curious will be happy to know there’s an ecology trail that starts at one end of the beach. If you walk it there’s a chance to see the protected breeding area of endangered dotterel birds.
There are also plenty of other hikes in the area, varying in degrees of difficulty. Once you’ve built up a sweat, you can dive into the warm, calm waters near the shore – the waves only kick up a bit further out, so it’s very safe to swim.
A short bus-ride from the centre of town (or an even shorter car drive), the fancy Auckland suburb of Mission Bay is home to the stunning white sands of Mission Beach. A favourite among locals for running and dog-walking, visitors to New Zealand’s largest city won’t be disappointed with this relatively central beach thanks to a range of nearby amenities and calm waters. There’s also plenty of space for those who like a bit of seclusion.
Even the drive from the centre of the city to this Auckland beach is worth writing home about, following Tamaki Drive as it cuts through Hobson Bay and Judges Bay. The suburb itself is also great to walk around, with plenty of artisanal shops and cool houses to take a gander at.
Just under an hour away from the beating heart of the city, Anawhata Beach is without a doubt one of the most stunning beaches in the world, let alone New Zealand. Surrounded by grassy rocks that shelter beachgoers from the wind, the beach is empty most of the time – even in the height of summer. The sand is fine and soft, and the water is temperate during the warmer months, but most importantly it feels like a hidden paradise.
The beach is right on the West coast, so ideal for sunsets. However, if you are going to watch the last of the daylight, you need to be careful heading back. You can’t drive directly to the beach: to get there you need to walk through a short trail – around twenty minutes one way – that can get steep and rocky.
However, the journey there and back is worth it: there’s an almost unlimited amount of space, rock pools with plenty of cool marine life, and some great waves for surfers and other adrenaline junkies. Just make sure to bring everything you need with you, otherwise it’s a long walk back…
When people talk about the natural wonders of New Zealand being comparable to anywhere else on earth, they’re thinking about beaches like Whatipu. To access this volcanic black sand beach you need to drive through the rugged and unforgettable scenery of Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, where rainforests and rock line the valleys. After all that natural splendour, you might think that the beach would be a let-down, but it’s a worthy ending to what is a phenomenal journey.
The beach is incredibly remote but isn’t really one for relaxing on. While you can swim in the sea here, the currents tend to be quite strong, so it isn’t advised to go too far out.
However, there are several excellent walks in the area, with the most popular being the Whatipu Heritage Walk, which takes just under an hour and goes past dunes, caves, and lush greenery that looks even more enticing against the dark sands that make up the coast here.
Another fairly central beach, you can reach the famous Kohimarama via public transport quite easily. This isn’t the best place if you like your beaches to be quiet, but if you prefer a bit of a lively atmosphere with plenty of amenities nearby, then there’s no better Auckland beach.
Kohimarama is by no means the prettiest beach on this list, but like all of them it’s incredibly clean. The water is usually calm and quite pleasant to swim in, and there are plenty of locals taking their daily exercise or dog walking on it throughout the day. If you want an uncomplicated day lounging in the sand without having to worry about a long journey back to your hotel, then this is the spot for you.
While the peninsula which Auckland inhabits has plenty of stunning beaches, just under a one-or-two-hour ferry ride (depending on which way you’re going) away is the Coromandel area, famed for long stretches of absolutely gorgeous golden sands. Because of this Coromandel is perfect for a day trip from Auckland, although will have to planned ahead as the boat only operates twice a week.
The boat to Coromandel leaves at 9am, arriving at 9.50am, and the return boat departs Coromandel at 4.30pm, taking just under two hours. This all means there’s plenty of time to enjoy your visit to this special peninsula.
One of the most underrated beaches in Coromandel is Wainuiototo, or New Chum Beach. This crescent-shaped stretch of sand is surrounded by lush greenery and has several walking tracks around it, so you can work up a sweat before diving into the calm, azure waters.
Another must-visit is the somewhat unimaginatively named Hot Water Beach, where at low tide hot water bubbles through the golden sand thanks to a warm underground river. A pastime among local children is to dig through the sand until they reach the warm liquid, forming personal spa pools. As the tide rises again, the pools go back into the sea, ready for new visitors to dig their own. Thanks to its relative fame, Hot Water Beach is surrounded by plenty of bars, restaurants, and stores.