With summer nearly upon us, we thought it was time to delve into the big question on everyone’s lips. Just where is New Zealand’s best beach? With so many to choose from, it’s difficult to nail down just one best beach in New Zealand. After all, it depends on what you’re looking for in a beach.
For some, the best thing about going to the beach is the surf. For others, it’s safe, calm swimming waters. For us, we love the soft white sand between our toes whereas other prefer a nice firm beach for some good old beach cricket.
We decided to try and cover all the bases with our latest top 10 and check out the top family friendly beaches in New Zealand. These are the beaches where you can safely swim, they’re clean, they’re kid friendly and above all, they are absolutely stunning.
So, without further ado, let’s delve into New Zealand’s top ten family friendly beaches as recommended by those lovely folks over at the AA.
1. Te Tii Bay, Paihia
This stunning beach is located just up and around the corner from the main town in Paihia, towards the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It’s a popular spot with family thanks to the calm waters and great variety of activities including swimming, water skiing, fishing, kite surfing and wind surfing. You will also see lots of people out kayaking on the stunning waters.
2. Matapouri Bay, Northland
Head north from Paihia and the Bay of Islands and you will come to the stunningly beautiful Matapouri Bay. This stretch of white sand is one of our favourites and is popular with families thanks to the safe swimming and opportunities to explore. The Mermaid Pools are a great place for a family adventure at low tide and there is a great walkway to Whale Bay which offers some sumptuous views.
3. Cheltenham Beach, Auckland
It is not often you can find such a beautiful beach so close to a city centre. Cheltenham Beach in Devonport is extremely picturesque and sits in the shadow of North Head Historic Reserve. The beach itself is popular with locals and tourists alike. You will see people out running early in the morning before taking a cooling dip in the summer months.
4. Long Bay Regional Park, Auckland
Long Bay Regional Park is located around 20 minutes north of downtown Auckland and is a stunning place for families. Thea beach itself, as the name would suggest, is a 1km stretch of sand that attracts a lot of visitors during the summer months. Perfect for beach cricket or building sandcastles, this bay is also popular with paddleboarders as the water is usually flat calm here.
5. Oriental Bay Beach, Wellington
Another of our cities that enjoys a beautiful beach in the heart of the city is Wellington. Oriental Bay beach is a great place for swimming, a picnic, walking or cycling and is Wellington’s most popular beach. With the city skyline in the backdrop, this is a great place to head for the day if you want to get out of the city but don’t want to go too far.
6. Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson/Tasman
A list of top 10 beaches in New Zealand without an entry for Nelson/Tasman wouldn’t be right! With so many to choose from, AA travellers voted Kaiteriteri into their top 10 and for good reason. The golden sandy beach is a great place to spend the day and the kids will love the crystal clear water that’s extremely safe for swimming. Hire a kayak and get out and explore the water or simply sit back and enjoy the beautiful views.
7. St Clair Beach, Otago
Yet another city with a great beach on its doorstep is Dunedin. St Clair beach is the most popular beach in the area and is another one that is popular with families. There is surf here which is great fun for the kids as well as an awesome new playground. Whilst you’re out swimming in the refreshing waters, consider this; there’s nothing else between you and the Antarctic!
8. Caroline Bay, Canterbury
In a Facebook poll conducted by The AA, Caroline Bay was voted as New Zealand’s fourth most popular beach and the number one in the South Island. The beach itself is sheltered by the harbour from the breakwater so it offers a beautifully calm place to go for a swim and take the family. The Bay sits in one of the best parks in the Timaru District and is a great place to head for a day out. Be sure to pack a picnic!
9. Sumner, Christchurch
This hugely popular beach in Christchurch is like honey to the bees in the summer months. With beautiful golden sand, calm waters and a lovely promenade, Sumner as all the makings of a classic, family-friendly beach. During the summer weekends, this beach does get pretty busy with locals and tourists but you can always find a pocket of sand to call your own.
10. Rabbit Island, Nelson
Another entry for Nelson! Located a short 15 minute drive from Richmond at the head of Tasman Bay, you will find eight kilometres of safe sandy beach to explore here. There are also a number of tracks to explore on the ‘island’ and it is the area’s largest picnic spot! You will also find some good mountain biking trails here which are perfect for the bigger kids and make for a great day out.
So there you have it. The AA’s guide to New Zealand’s top 10 family-friendly beaches. Hopefully the warm summer weather will have us all escaping to the beach soon and enjoying the lovely water, some good old-fashioned beach games and of course a delicious ice cream to round things off.
Got a top tip? Let us know your favourite family-friendly beaches in the comments below and we will add them to our list for next year.
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