Spend a weekend in Karikari Peninsula. The most beautiful beaches in New Zealand?

If you are planning on coming to New Zealand anytime soon or you already live here, you really need to head up north to visit the Karikari Peninsula. Over the summer months this place is just a dream and yet still remains quiet enough for a relaxing break.

That’s one of the things I love about New Zealand, our population is still pretty small so even in the heat of summer you can still easily get a spot on some of our most popular beaches.

This little slice of paradise is located just over an hour north of Kerikeri. How far is Kerikeri from Auckland? About 3 and a half hours.

So depending on where you’re driving from, it might be worth taking a day or two off work or visiting over a long weekend to make the most of this escape!

Maitai Bay

What to do in the Karikari Peninsula

If you’re a keen fisherman, be sure to visit Perehipe Bay to fish off the rocks. You can catch some pretty good snapper just off the coastline and it’s also a great place for a dip in the ocean.

What I love about a lot of the beaches up here is the water is so calm and clear, you can see the bottom. I’m not a big fan of rough surf beaches so it’s perfect for me.

For a bit of a treat stop by the Karikari Estate winery to enjoy some fine wine and gourmet cuisine. I was actually quite surprised (in a good way) about the prices here!

If you’ve ever been to Waiheke you’ll know that wineries certainly aren’t cheap but the prices at the Karikari Estate were what you’d expect to pay at standard restaurant in Auckland.

I had the beef salad and it was soo good and for me to say that about a salad…well, you know it must’ve been seriously good!

Karikari Estate

Woken up and want to work up a bit of a sweat? Take the 20min climb up Mt Puheke for gorgeous views of Doubtless Bay. If you’re an early bird, it would be gorgeous for sunrise!

After breakfast, head over to Maitai Bay and spend the day here. This bay is absolutely gorgeous and not to be missed. The crystal clear waters are just a dream, you could stay in the water for hours!

Matai Bay

Take a little walk down the end of the beach and you’ll discover another bay on the other side. Keep heading this way and you’ll find yourself walking along the Maitai Bay Headline track.

This isn’t an easy walk however and is classified as an advanced walking track by the Department of Conservation but if you’re up for a bit of adventure then it’s perfect for you.

If you love sunsets like I do, head back to Whatuwhiwhi to see the sun set over the water.

Other places worth visiting

The next day, on your way home, make sure you swing by Mangonui to pick up some fish and chips at arguably the best fish and chip shop in New Zealand.

Mangonui Fish shop

Located over the water it is the perfect place to stop and soak up the last bit of peace and quiet before heading back to Auckland.

If you also happen to be passing through Kerikeri, you HAVE to stop by the Makana  Chocolate shop. If you’re lucky they’ll be handing out samples of their macadamia butter toffee crunch, my fave Makana chocolate ever!

It’s not cheap, but it’s definitely worth a taste. You’ll probably be hooked!

It doesn’t just stop at chocolate, next door they have their cafe where they serve decedent desserts and, my personal fave, homemade gelato! You’ll probably fell sick by the time you leave Makana chocolate, but in a good way…

Makana chocolate shop

Karikari Peninsula Accommodation

Being like most other quiet locations in NZ, there aren’t any big hotels in the Karikari Peninsula but what you will find is camp grounds. Kiwi’s love to camp, especially in summer! You will often find the campgrounds have the perfect locations too.

There is Whatuwhiwhi Top 10 holiday park where you can either camp or rent a cabin and it is located just across the road from the beach.

The other great camping spot is Maitai Bay campground which is just before the Peninsula, but again is located just a short walk from the beach.

It is a doc campground which means it is super affordable at $15 per night for an adult. But with super affordable comes very basic facilities so just remember to be prepared!

If camping isn’t your style there are plenty of places to rent on Air BnB. I would just make sure you check the location to make sure they aren’t too far away from the beaches. Try looking for places in Doubtless Bay, Karikari beach or Maitai Bay.

When to go

A great time to go would be anytime in summer however the perfect time to go would be  outside of the school holidays and long weekends!

I like to try avoid the crowds (and kids!) where possible and you will also find everything is at its peak prices throughout the school holidays.

March would be the best and quietest month to come up to the Karikari Peninsula. By then all the school kids and uni students will be back, and it’s still hot enough for swimming.

I even recently travelled here in April for the easter break and when the sun was out it was still great for a dip.

Karikari Peninsula

Karikari Peninsula map

Here’s a quick peak of the map for this gorgeous area of New Zealand:

karikari peninsula map


Convinced that you need to add this place to your bucket list yet? Well if not, I don’t know what else to tell you except that you are really missing out. Do yourself a favour and book a trip here asap!

If you’re after some more road trip inspo but what something a little closer to Auckland, check out my post on heading to Tawharanui Regional Park.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At the time of updating this article, Maitai Bay is temporarily closed. This may change as the Covid-19 situation improves.