Northland and the Bay of Islands Feature
No matter where you are in New Zealand, within two hours you can be at a beach from the long white-sand beaches on the East to the black-sand rugged coastline of the West Coast.
The beach experience in New Zealand is dependent on where you are. City-side beaches in Auckland are for families while the West Coast and Far North beaches attract the surfing set.
The best beaches for people staying in Auckland are Mission Bay, Kohimarama, St. Heliers, and Ladies Bay. If you take the ferry to Devonport, you can walk to a number of fine beaches popular with locals.
West Coast beaches feature black sand, which gets very hot during the day. Make sure you wear sandals while you select your spot. Swim between the flags on beaches with surf patrols; the rips can be sudden and dangerous but the pounding surf is like a free massage.
The Far North beaches are glorious and often deserted, but inexperienced swimmers should not venture in over waist height.
BEST TIME TO GO
New Zealanders say the best time to hit the beach is anytime they are not at work. For swimming, November through early April is best. The farther north you go the warmer the weather and water. In summer avoid the beach mid-day—the sun can be scorching—and take a hat. In winter carry a raincoat, because weather changes quickly.
At 15,134 km (9,404 mi) the New Zealand coastline is the 10th longest in the world and varies from wide sand and stone beaches to sheer cliffs and forest where the bush meets the sea.
Stay the Night
The rhythmic sound of the sea, the salty air, the breeze against the tent; this is reason enough to try camping on a beach in New Zealand. The Department of Conversation runs cost-effective beachside campgrounds. The facilities, while basic, are generally well maintained. Go farther from city areas and you're more likely to have a beach (almost) to yourself, especially outside the peak summer period between November and March. Camping at beaches as opposed to staying in hotels offers a complete opportunity to unwind. Take some books and a towel, and spend the afternoon dipping, snoozing, and reading under the shade of a tree. If you are traveling with children, it's likely others there will want to mix and mingle which always adds to a holiday. Locals will point those who like fishing to a good spot. Almost nothing beats fresh fish cooked on a beach and eaten with fresh vegetables or even just on a piece of bread and butter.
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