10 Best Beach Towns in New Zealand that you need to visit in 2023
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If you’re looking for some of the best beach towns in New Zealand, then look no further!
These small towns have a relaxed vibe with lots of outdoor activities and awesome scenery, plus of course, they have some great beaches too! They are some of my favourite places to visit in the summertime.
These beach towns are a must-visit whether you’re planning to stay a weekend or a week!
Here are my picks for the 10 best beach towns in New Zealand.
10 Best Beach Towns In New Zealand
1. Mount Maunganui
Mount Maunganui has to be one of my top picks for the best beach towns to visit in New Zealand. It offers a beautiful beach, plenty of things to do, and a relaxed atmosphere.
Mount Maunganui Beach is one of the most popular beaches in New Zealand and it offers stunning views. The beach is great for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.
You also can’t miss walking up Mount Maunganui itself for a breathtaking view of the beach and town.
This town is also home to a number of shops and restaurants so you certainly won’t be bored! You can basically walk everywhere, the main strip of shops isn’t that far back from the beach.
Astro Bar is a must-visit, the burgers are super yum and reasonably priced too.
Overall Mount Maunganui has a fantastic lively vibe in the summer with lots of events happening.
Where to stay in Mount Maunganui
What to do in Mount Maunganui
- Walk up Mount Maunganui
- Hit the surf
- Browse the boutique shops
Whangamata is another favourite, this gorgeous little beach town is located on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand’s North Island.
The town is known for its golden sand beaches, which are perfect for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. If the conditions are right, it’s also possible to get the kayak out or the paddleboard if you’re feeling brave.
Whangamata also has a thriving cafe culture, and the town’s cafes and restaurants offer a delicious range of food and drink. Similar to Mount Maunganui, there is a main strip of shops you can walk down and find plenty to do along the way, along with some great places to pop in for a bite to eat.
There are some lovely walks in the area too. Whangamata is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the New Zealand sunshine.
Where to stay in Whangamata
What to do in Whangamata
- Walk the Parakiwai Valley track
- Do the Wentworth Valley Waterfall trail
- Enjoy the views from the Peninsula Road Harbour Loop
Omaha is a beautiful beach town located just over an hour north of Auckland and under 10 minutes from popular Matakana. Omaha Bay is known for its stunning scenery and gorgeous beach.
On a nice day when the ocean is calm, the water glistens and is so clear and blue. The fine white sand is super soft and perfect for a stroll along.
On a day when the ocean isn’t so calm, that’s when the surfboards come out. You can even take surf lessons down by the surf club if you want to up your skills.
When you need a break from the beach, there are some cafes and shops just up from the surf club. If you venture back along the main road there are some more options like The Farmers Daughter and OOB (Omaha Organic Blueberries) who do the best real fruit icecream!
There are also a number of art galleries if that’s more your style. For a rather small town, there is quite a bit to do here. The town is situated close to a number of other great beaches, making it the perfect place to enjoy a beach holiday.
Where to stay in Omaha
What to do in Omaha
- Get a real fruit icecream from OOB
- Visit the Sunday country park market
- Have a surf lesson
As soon as you arrive in Hahei, you’ll be greeted by the idyllic setting of Hahei Beach, with its gentle waves and pristine white sand. The small town has such a beachy vibe and absolutely screams New Zealand summer.
Like a lot of the other beach towns on this list, you can walk straight from the beach to the shops. Although there aren’t too many so don’t set your expectations too high! You will be able to find an icecream though in order to cool off on a hot day.
Of course, no visit to Hahei would be complete without taking a swim in the crystal-clear waters of Cathedral Cove. Be sure to take the time to do this awesome walk.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an adventurous escape, Hahei has something for everyone.
Where to stay in Hahei
What to do in Hahei
- Walk to Cathedral Cove and take a dip at the beach there
- Take a kayak tour
Papamoa is a fantastic place to visit if you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful scenery. Papamoa is known for its long golden sand beach, trust me, it is very long.
16 kilometres long in fact.
You’ll certainly be able to find a spot to yourself, even in the peak of summer! The beach is great for swimming but do take care as sometimes there can be a bit of a strong current due to how exposed this beach is.
If the waves are up, then it’s the perfect opportunity to grab your surf board or even boogie board.
With great cafe and restaurant options, plus a range of shops there’s a lot to do in Papamoa when you’ve decided you need a break from the beach. It’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the outdoors.
Where to stay in Papamoa
- Pacific Palms Resort
- Tasman Holiday Parks (amazing beachfront camping ground!)
- Beach House Motel
What to do in Papamoa
- Walk up Papamoa Hills
- Go shopping at Papamoa Plaza
- Visit Papamoa Domain (in the summer on Thursday nights you’ll find food trucks here!)
Kuaotunu is one of the smaller beach towns on this list but it is well up there with being one of my favourites.
Not only is the beach stunning but the laid-back vibes of this place are just what you need on a summer holiday. The beach is big enough for everyone to relax with a bit of peace and quiet.
There isn’t too much in terms of shops and cafes but Lukes’s Kitchen is an absolute must-visit. Perfect for when you don’t feel like cooking! If you’re lucky they might even have some live music in the evenings during the summer months.
Kuaotunu is the perfect place to come if you want to get away from it all and just relax. It really is a little piece of paradise.
If you’re wanting a little day trip, the New Chums Beach walk is just a 20 mins drive away and well worth doing if you’re in the area!
Where to stay in Kuaotunu
What to do in Kuaotunu
- Grab a bite to eat at Lukes’s Kitchen
- Take a walk along the beach
- Take a day trip to New Chums Beach
A hop, skip and a jump away from Kuaotunu is where you’ll find Opito. If you really want to get off the grid then Opito is the place for you.
If you thought Kuaotunu was small, then Opito is even smaller. There are no shops or cafes here but I guarantee you’ll want to spend most of your time at the beach anyway, it’s THAT gorgeous.
With white sand and aquamarine waters, it really is like something out of a postcard. Make sure that you don’t miss walking around to Crayfish Bay!
If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life then Opito is the place to come. Unwind, relax and get back to basics.
There are no hotels or motels or even campgrounds in Opito so when looking for accommodation, holiday homes are the way to go.
Where to stay in Opito
What to do in Optio
- Enjoy the beach!
- Walk around to Crayfish Bay
8. Waihi Beach
Waihi Beach is a beautiful place to visit with plenty of things to do. It’s located in the North Island, at the northern end of the Bay of Plenty, about 40 minutes north of Tauranga. Not only is there a stunning beach but also an array of shops and cafes as well as the Waihi Arts Centre & Museum.
The beach itself is great for swimming, surfing and even fishing! At 10 kilometres long, there’s plenty of space.
There are also plenty of walking and biking tracks in the area if you’re looking to explore the stunning scenery.
Where to stay in Waihi Beach
- Beach Pacific Apartments
- Two Bare Feet
- Tasman Holiday Parks – Waihi Beach (a great camping ground with a pool!)
What to do in Waihi Beach
- Learn to surf at Waihi Beach Surf School
- Check out the Waihi Arts Centre & Museum
- Do the Orokawa Bay walk (expect gorgeous panoramic views!)
Paihia is another excellent choice for those looking for a beach town on the north island. This town is situated right on the water, making it the perfect place to enjoy some of the best views in New Zealand.
Located in the Bay of Islands, Paihia is known as the gateway to stunning sandy beaches and dive sites.
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are found here, along with a museum and a giant Maori canoe. With this marking the site of the founding of modern New Zealand, there is plenty of history to take in.
Being a rather popular tourist destination there are plenty of accommodation options and delicious restaurants. You’ll certainly not run out of things to do here!
Where to stay in Paihia
What to do in Paihia
- Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
- Take a boat ride through the harbour
- Explore Paihia Beach and other surrounding bays
Raglan is a lively surf town located on the west coast of the north island, in the Waikato region. This town is best known for its surf beaches, which are some of the best in New Zealand.
No doubt you’ll hear about Manu Bay’s long surf break if you’re a keen surfer. If you’re a beginner then don’t worry, there’s a surf school in the area which will be able to give you a few lessons.
Being on the west coast the beaches are a little more rugged and have some stunning black sand. It makes for some pretty dramatic scenery.
If surfing isn’t your jam and you’d rather just hit the beach for a swim, you can do that too.
There are some great walks in the area too, along with a selection of cafes and bars so you’ll have plenty to do in Raglan!
Where to stay in Raglan
What to do in Raglan
- Walk to the top of Bridal Veil Falls
- Cycle the Pipiwharauroa Trail
- Learn to surf
Conclusion: 10 Best Beach Towns in New Zealand
There are plenty of great beach towns in New Zealand, but these ten are definitely some of the best (and my personal favourites). With stunning scenery, plenty of things to do and lovely sandy beaches, you really can’t go wrong with any of these destinations.
Each town has its own unique atmosphere and offers something different for visitors. Whether you’re looking to surf, explore some history or just relax on the beach, there’s definitely a beach town in New Zealand that’s perfect for you.