20 Best Beaches in Northland, New Zealand 2023
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Are you on the hunt for the best beaches in Northland? Look no further as this list contains all the summer hotspots.
It’s no secret that New Zealand has some amazing beaches, and a lot of them are located in the Northland region at the top of the North Island. If you’re looking for the perfect place to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea, you won’t be disappointed.
No matter what your preferences are, you’re sure to find the perfect beach in Northland.
Northland Beaches Map
Here’s where you’ll find all the best spots:
Best Beaches in Northland
From picture-perfect bays to sweeping white sand beaches, there’s something for everyone. For those who enjoy swimming and sunbathing, Matapouri Bay is a great choice. The water is calm and shallow, making it perfect for a refreshing dip.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a beach with more of a surfing vibe, Mangawhai Heads is the place to be. With its long stretches of sand and surf breaks, it’s a popular spot for both locals and visitors alike.
Best Beaches in the Far North District
1. Cable Bay
Cable Bay is a gorgeous sheltered beach that is perfect for swimming and lounging out on the warm golden sand. Located in between Taipa and Coopers Beach, this stretch of sand isn’t as well known but is incredibly beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
There’s the Cable Bay store across the road which is perfect if you need to cool down with ice cream on a hot summer’s day. The scoops are known for being pretty generous so you’re sure to get your money’s worth!
Where to stay near Cable Bay
2. Maitai Bay
Maitai Bay is hands down one of my favourite beaches in the Northland region and it has been for years.
Being a bay the water is nice and calm so it’s perfect for swimming, standup paddleboarding and kayaking. In the summer the water is lovely and warm as the bay doesn’t get deep too quickly.
It’s a place that reminds me a bit of Fiji, somewhere you definitely have to see for yourself!
The best part about Maitai Bay is that it never really gets that busy. I was there over the Easter holidays recently and stayed at the campground and there was still a ton of room on the beach for everyone.
Where to stay near Maitai Bay
3. Matauri Bay
Matauri Bay is best known for the beautiful Rainbow Warrior shipwreck that lies offshore. The wreck is now a dive site for certified divers and a fish sanctuary.
The bay itself is also lovely with golden sand and crystal-clear water. It’s a great place to relax and soak up the sun or get out the surfboard. With an easterly swell, it can be a popular spot for surfers.
If you venture to the ridge above the bay you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over the headland, look out for the Cavalli Islands.
It’s located 30km northeast of Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. There is a popular campground here, perfect if you want to enjoy a longer stay in true Kiwi style.
Where to stay near Matauri Bay
4. Ninety Mile Beach
Despite the name, Ninety Mile Beach isn’t actually ninety miles long. There’s a story about how the beach got its name, back when European settlers visited.
They knew their horses could travel 30 miles a day, and it took them 3 days to reach the end of the beach, so therefore they came to the conclusion the beach must be 90 miles long. However, they didn’t take into account that their horse was slower on the sand.
This beach is an iconic New Zealand destination and one that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It’s best known for being a surf beach but you can also find plenty of fishing spots along the way.
One of the fun things about Ninety Mile Beach is that you can drive along it! This is because it’s an official highway in New Zealand.
If you do give it a go, best you’ve got a 4WD and any rental cars are a no-no as you’re likely not covered if anything was to happen.
You’ll find Ninety Mile Beach located on the west coast of the Northland region.
Where to stay near Ninety Mile Beach
5. Paihia Beach
Paihia Beach is one of the best places to stay in Northland as it’s right in the heart of the Bay of Islands. This means you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to activities and there’s always something going on.
During the day you can go swimming, boating, or fishing off the pier. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous there’s kayaking, standup paddleboarding and parasailing on offer.
In the evening you can stroll along the waterfront, enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants or watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Paihia Beach is also a fantastic place to learn to surf as there are some great surf schools in the area.
Where to stay near Paihia Beach
6. Rarawa Beach
Rarawa Beach is one of the best beaches in Northland for those who want to get away from the crowds. It’s located down a 4-kilometre gravel road, about an hour’s drive from Kaitaia in total.
But it’s worth the effort as this beach is simply stunning. The sand is white and soft, and the water is a beautiful turquoise colour.
There’s a lagoon you can swim in here too if the beach seems a little rough. Due to the exposed beach break care needs to be taken in the water.
Where to stay near Rarawa Beach
7. Tapeka Point Beach
Tapeka Point Beach is best known for the Tapeka Point Historic Reserve which is located at the southern end of the beach.
The reserve is home to an old Maori pa site, as well as a lighthouse. The views from the top are simply stunning and definitely worth the walk-up.
The beach itself is also lovely with golden sand and plenty of room to relax. It’s a great place to come for a picnic or a swim.
Be sure to walk along the rocks at the southern end of the beach where you’ll find lots of interesting tide pools.
Tapeka Point Beach is located just north of Russell in the Bay of Islands.
Where to stay near Tapeka Point Beach
8. Tapotupotu Bay
Tapotupotu Bay is one of the best beaches in Northland for camping and it’s also the farthest north you can camp! It’s located down a long gravel road, about an hour’s drive from Kaitaia.
It’s a DOC campsite so the facilities are pretty basic but it’s perfect if you want to save some money.
Tapotupotu Bay is stunning with fine white sand and crystal-clear water. It’s perfect for swimming, snorkelling or just relaxing in the sun.
There are also some great walks in the area if you want to explore further. Tapotupotu is part of the four-day Te Paki Coastal Track.
Where to stay near Tapotupotu Bay
9. Taupo Bay
Taupo Bay is surrounded by native bush which makes for a pretty stunning setting. Known as one of the best beaches in Northland, this stunning bay should be near the top of your list.
It’s great for swimming or surfing depending on the conditions. On a calm day, the bay will be pretty flat but if there’s a bit of wind and a swell coming through, the waves pick up.
There’s a campsite located here too if you want to stay the night. It’s a great place to relax and stay off the beaten track for a bit.
Taupo Bay is located about an hour’s drive from Kaitaia.
Where to stay near Taupo Bay
10. Tauranga Bay
Tauranga Bay is a beautiful kilometre-long stretch of golden sand and is a fantastic swimming spot.
The water is crystal-clear making it a great place to dive as well.
Tauranga Bay is one of the few places where you can camp right on the edge of the beach so it’s worth staying here overnight to really soak in the magic of this place.
The campsite offers a range of cabins as well as powered and unpowered campsites.
Where to stay near Tauranga Bay
11. Tokerau Beach
Located in the stunning Karikari Peninsula on the northwestern side of Doubtless Bay this gorgeous beach is definitely worth a visit.
Like most beaches located in the far north, you’ll find fine white sand and clear blue water, Tokerau Beach is no exception!
Tokerau Beach is best known as the place to go kitesurfing in the far north. The bay faces north so it gets some good wind conditions which make it perfect for kitesurfing.
If you’re not into kitesurfing, it’s still a lovely place to relax or take a swim.
Where to stay near Tokerau Beach
Best beaches in Whangarei district
12. Langs Beach
With its long stretch of white sand and turquoise water, Langs Beach is simply stunning.
This beach is great for swimming, surfing or just relaxing in the sun. There are some lovely walks in the area too if you feel like being a bit adventurous.
This beach is great for swimming, surfing or just relaxing in the sun. It’s also a popular spot for fishing with plenty of good spots to cast a line.
Langs Beach is located about an hour’s drive from Whangarei and is definitely worth the trip!
Where to stay near Langs Beach
13. Mangawhai Beach
Mangawhai Beach is a beautiful sandy beach located on the east coast of the North Island. It has become a pretty popular summer destination and it’s easy to see why.
This beach is great for swimming, surfing, fishing or just relaxing in the sun. The beach has an estuary close by too which is perfect for kids to swim in if the surf is looking a little rough.
There are some rock pools at the end of the beach to explore too.
Where to stay near Mangawhai Beach
14. Matapouri Bay
Matapouri Bay is a stunning bay located on the east coast of the North Island. This beach is well known for its clear water and scenic walkway along the region’s beautiful coastline.
This beach is great for swimming, snorkelling or just relaxing in the sun. The walkway is perfect for when you want to explore, you do need to plan ahead though as access around the rocks is limited at high tide.
The path is clearly signposted and after 40 minutes you’ll find yourself at the picturesque Whale Bay.
Where to stay near Matapouri Bay
15. Ruakaka Beach
Ruakaka Beach is a stunning white sand beach located on the east coast of the North Island. This beach is great for swimming, surfing or just relaxing in the sun.
The best time to visit Ruakaka Beach is during the summer months when the water is at its warmest. The beach can get pretty busy during peak season so it’s best to visit during the week if you can.
There is a surf school located here too if you’re wanting to learn how to surf.
Where to stay near Ruakaka Beach
16. Uretiti Beach
Uretiti Beach is a beautiful spot on the Northland coast of New Zealand. It’s well known for its golden sand and clear waters, which make it a popular spot for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing.
The beach is also a great place to go for a walk, especially at dawn or dusk when the light is stunning. The long stretch of sand means there is plenty of room for everyone.
Uretiti Beach is an easy drive from Auckland, making it the perfect day trip or weekend getaway.
Where to stay near Uretiti Beach
17. Waipu Cove
Waipu Cove is a beautiful sandy beach located on the east coast of the North Island. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of New Zealand. This little piece of paradise is located just a short drive from the city of Whangarei.
There are plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained, such as swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and kayaking.
Waipu Cove is also a popular spot for camping, with several campsites located nearby.
Where to stay near Waipu Cove
18. Whale Bay
Whale Bay is a beautiful beach accessible on foot from Matapouri Bay or via the carpark on Matapouri road. This secluded spot is well worth a visit.
Accessing the beach from Matapouri road is a 30min round trip, or if you chose to leave from Matapouri Bay instead, that’ll take 40mins one way.
The bay is sheltered from the prevailing winds, so it’s usually calm and tranquil. There’s a stunning white sand beach, and the water is crystal clear. Whale Bay is also a great place for swimming, snorkelling, and kayaking.
Where to stay near Whale Bay
19. Whananaki North and South Beach
If you’re looking for a beach that’s a little off the beaten track, then head to Whananaki.
You’ll find there are two beaches to explore, North and South. Whananaki South is only accessible by the long wooden footbridge so if you’re planning to stay a night or two here, you’ll want to base yourself in Whananaki North.
Well known for its clear water and long stretches of sandy beaches, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery and trust me, it really is stunning!
Whananaki is also a great place for surfing, with waves that are ideal for beginners and experienced surfers alike.
Where to stay near Whananaki Beach
Best beaches in Kaipara district
20. Kai Iwi Lakes
Technically not a beach but it still had to make the list because it is not a spot to be missed!
Kai Iwi Lakes offer some of the most stunning scenery in all of New Zealand. Located in Northland, these lakes are surrounded by native bush and offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
The Kai Iwi Lakes is also a popular spot for fishing, swimming and kayaking. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day trip or an adventurous weekend getaway, Kai Iwi Lakes is the perfect place to explore.
So pack your sunscreen and your sense of adventure, and head to Kai Iwi Lakes for a truly unforgettable experience.
Where to stay near Kai Iwi Lakes
Getting around the Northland beaches
Getting around Northland can be a challenge, as the region is quite isolated from the rest of New Zealand. The best way to get around Northland is by car.
Although there are some public transport options, they are limited and often quite expensive. The best way to see Northland is by hiring a car, as this will give you the freedom to explore at your own pace.
There are a few companies that offer rental cars, but make sure to book in advance, as they can be in high demand during peak season. No matter how you choose to get around Northland’s beaches, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.
Just be sure to drive carefully on Northland’s windy and sometimes narrow roads!
The best time to visit beaches in Northland
The best time to visit Northland beaches is during the summer months when the weather is warm and dry.
December and January are the busiest months as that’s when the school holidays are and a lot of people take time off work over the Christmas period, so if you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, try visiting in February or March.
April and November are also good months to visit, as the weather is still warm but there are fewer crowds.
Whichever month you choose to visit, make sure to bring sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water, as the sun can be very strong in New Zealand.
Conclusion: Best Beaches in Northland
So by now, I hope you’re convinced that some of the best beaches in New Zealand lie within the Northland region. It truly is such a stunning place and is one of my favourite areas of New Zealand to explore.
If you’re looking for a summer road trip destination with amazing beaches, Northland is the place to go.
With plenty of coastline to explore, you’ll certainly have your hands full. One visit to the region and you’ll be left wanting more. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip today!
There’s plenty of other places worth visiting in the North Island too, check them out here.