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11 of the Best Beaches in New Zealand

15,000 kilometres of coastline make New Zealand one big, beautiful beach! Parked in your Pegasus car rental in the CBD of any of New Zealand’s four main cities you are only 15 minutes from a spectacular beach. Drive a little further and, well, you’ll be in paradise. And in New Zealand, when we talk about the beach, we are not talking about rows of deck chairs, sky scrapers pressed up against the sand, nor people everywhere. Oh no! In New Zealand, a beach is somewhere without loads of people. Somewhere you go to walk wild black-sanded beaches, to swim in warm, clear turquoise water, where you might see seals, penguins and dolphins.

So, pack your sun screen, sun hat, and swimwear, hop in your Pegasus rental, and we’ll see you at the beach!

Here are our top beach picks:

Rarawa

Northland is New Zealand’s sub-tropical paradise, making it a great place to go beach-crazy. And, with its silky white sand, warm, clear water, spectacular location – very near the tip of the North Island – and awe-inspiring isolation, Rarawa is one of the best. Great for surfing, great for beach walking, even better for lying back and soaking up New Zealand’s natural magnificence!

Cheltenham Beach

For a more sedate beach experience, drive just 18 minutes from Auckland’s CBD. Beautiful pohutukawa (New Zealand’s Christmas tree), views of Rangitoto (Auckland’s iconic off-shore volcano), and one of the safest and best swimming beaches in New Zealand, make Cheltenham Beach a terrific option for those needing a break from Auckland’s hustle and bustle.


Pohutukawa (New Zealand’s Christmas tree)

Opoutere

Like Northland, the Coromandel is beach heaven, and for many, Opoutere is the region’s best. Ten minutes drive from the sea-side village of Whangamata – home to another superb beach – park your Pegasus car rental, walk ten more minutes through a beautiful, eerie pine forest, before bursting out onto the white-sanded marvel that is Opoutere. Gently breaking azure blue waves, rare sea-birds, endless white sand, and, for most of the year, not a soul in sight!

Anaura Bay

Want a beach-focused road trip recommendation? Drive from Gisborne to Whakatane on the East Coast of the North Island and experience beautiful New Zealand at its best. Coastline, bush, historic rural towns, fishing, surfing, camping. If you want a bite of the real New Zealand get to the East Coast.  And the best beach? There are tons of absolute rippers. But don’t miss Anaura Bay. Warm water, a great camping ground, beautiful forest and more often than not, the feeling you are one of the first to discover this magical piece of paradise.

Castlepoint

An hour’s drive from Masterton you will find Castlepoint, located on the eastern coast of the lower half of the North Island. Castlepoint has been voted one of the New Zealand’s top 10 most loved beaches. It’s the perfect getaway, with swimming, surfing, walking trails and dramatic coastlines.

With its reef, lagoon, lighthouse and Castle Rock, Castlepoint is a spectacular stretch of Wairarapa coastline.  The lighthouse was first lit in 1913 and it’s one of the last two remaining beam lighthouses in New Zealand. The walk to the lighthouse is relatively easy and the views are fantastic.

Fuel is available at the Whakataki Hotel 24 hours a day – just pay at the pump.


The spectacular Castlepoint beach

Lyall Bay

Okay, Lyall Bay may not be the most beautiful beach in New Zealand, but it has to be one of the craziest! Less than fifteen minutes drive from Wellington’s CBD, Lyall Bay has something for everyone. Surfing, check. Swimming, check. Watching the planes fly into Wellington airport, check. Having a coffee at the same place – the legendary Maranui Café – as Harry and Meghan did, check. Not to mention the ferries coming and going, the kite-surfers blazing back and forth, the surf casters, the spear fishermen… Yep, Lyall Bay is as whacky and wonderful as Wellington itself.

Totaranui

Native forest, golden sand, warm, clear water. Totaranui is part of the Abel Tasman National Park, a park as famous for its incredible beaches as it is for its superb walking tracks. Snorkel around the rocks, try a little fishing, or just float around in the warm water. You’ll need to spend a little time in your Pegasus rental to get there – Totaranui is two hours from Nelson – at the top of the South Island – and the last ten kilometres is a windy gravel road through beautiful native forest. But, make the effort! It’s more than worth it!

Okains Bay

Closer to Christchurch there are excellent beaches at Sumner, New Brighton, Taylors Mistake, but spend a little more time in your Pegasus rental and you’ll be on Bank’s Peninsula where beautiful bays, isolated coves, and dazzling beaches abound. Okains Bay is just ten kilometres from Akaroa, the main settlement on Banks Peninsula. You’ll find an excellent surf beach, one of the oldest stores in New Zealand (selling some of the best ice creams!), clean water, hot sand, and beautiful South Island scenery.

Moeraki Boulders

Take a walk to the Moeraki Boulders – geological marvels, exposed by erosion of sedimentary rocks laid down from 65 to 13 million years ago. The Moeraki Boulders are a group of large spherical “stones” on Koekohe Beach near Moeraki on New Zealand’s Otago coast. You can either drive in from state highway 1 direct to the boulder area or you can park in the fishing town of Moeraki and walk on the Millennium Track for about 1.7km (one way) along Koekohe Beach. Just make sure the tide it out so you have plenty of time to get there and back!

The boulders are one of the most fascinating and popular attractions on the South Island.


The Moeraki Boulders on Koekohe Beach

Curio Bay

Two hours drive from Dunedin and you are in the Catlins – one of the wildest, most isolated, and beautiful regions of New Zealand. And Curio Bay is surely the glittering jewel in the Catlins crown. See Hectors dolphins surfing the waves, watch the rare yellow-eyed penguins waddle ashore at dusk, marvel at fossilised tree stumps that are 160 million years old. Crystal lean water, ancient forest, thrilling wildlife. Curio Bay is unmissable!

Okarito

Okay, Okarito is not the place to swim nor sunbath. It’s wild. Really wild. Big seas. Big sky. Wildlife – birds, dolphins, whales – like you wouldn’t believe. It’s isolated and beautiful. It’s a place that feels a bit like the end of the earth. But in a good way! Pack your insect repellent, jump in your Pegasus rental, and get over to the South Island’s West Coast – where the adventure awaits!