Abel Tasman National Park
New Zealand’s most visited national park at the northern tip of the South Island and just a stone’s throw from renowned sun trap town of Nelson, Abel Tasman – the nation’s smallest national park – is a mere 22,000 hectares of thriving green backdrop, honey comb caves and golden coves of sun-tinged sands. With cars banned, Abel Tasman’s beaches require a smidge of effort on your part, but the rewards are plentiful. Hike or rent a kayak for a few days, stopping off at the endless unoccupied bays along the way. Make sure you schedule in some time to soothe aching muscles on little crescent of Te Pukatea Bay. Accessible by water or a 30-minute walk that deviates off the popular Abel Tasman trail, it’s all about the undisturbed sands and stretching views.
Hot Water Beach – The Coromandel
Situated in the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula, 175 kilometres from Auckland Hot Water beach is as unique as it is appropriately named. Two hours either side of low tide, it’s time to get your spade out and start digging – beneath the sand streams of hot water run into the Pacific Ocean. A few minutes of digging and you will have hollowed out your own thermal spa pool – relax back in the mineral goodness as the steam envelopes you. Nature’s very own spa experience.
If it’s exhilarating views and blustery walks you’re after then it’s time to head north – essentially, as far as your overly-keen feet will take you. Situated at the most north western tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga is the final stop along the renowned ‘90 Mile Beach’ – though to be factually thorough, it is actually a less-catchy 55 miles. A significant distance from the nearest, well, anything really, but with views that will make you stand rooted to the spot, recurrently gasping at the beauty of it all, Reinga is a destination that makes the mammoth journey feel like an effortless stroll to the corner shop. Skip along the beach amongst the undulating sand dunes or up the hill to the light house for expansive panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea before a luxurious overnight stay at the incredible Eagles Nest in Russell..
WHEN: All year round amazing views but Dec-Feb for a less blustery experience!
Onetangi Bay, Waiheke Island
The first rule of travel – observe the locals and then, like a stalker in shorts, stick to them day and night until they file a restraining order. In this case, that notion should land you on the delightful sand stretch of Onetangi Bay. Just a 35-minute ferry ride from central Auckland it’s where the stressed-out city set goes to unwind and the Waiheke Islanders proudly bask in the beauty on their doorstep. After a day of sun worshipping on its sleepy golden sands work up an appetite with a brisk walk along the shore before sampling some some of the phenomenal vineyards that Waiheke island has to offer. Lay your head at the exquisite The Boatshed .
Kaikoura, South Island
Beyond the rugged seal-guarded shores of eastern Kaikoura, dusky dolphins and sperm whales cut through the icy waters. And we highly recommend that you join them. Head out on an early morning boat trip, take the plunge and come face-to-face with some of the ocean’s most amazing mammals (though you might be more comfortable watching the sperm whales from a distance). If you’re not so keen on a close encounter, simply enjoy this quaint coastal town with the snow-capped Mount Fytte in the distance, dining on local crayfish and putting your pallet through its paces at the Kaikoura winery.
Mount Maunganui Beach, Bay of Plenty, North Island
Located in the North Island’s renowned Bay of Plenty, Mount Maunganui, is known to be one of the top surf spots in New Zealand; pros flock for some of the best breaks around and the recent addition of an artificial coral reef has only upped the wave quality. Beyond the gnarly swell, the wide stretch of golden sand not only boasts never ending views – the perfect panorama to get lost in.
Coopers Beach, Doubtless Bay
If it’s undisturbed stress-dissolving beach time you’re after, head an hour north of New Zealand’s famous Bay of Plenty and away from the crowds to the peaceful, unspoilt Cooper’s beach nestled along the shore of Doubtless Bay. Its warm sub-tropical climate and ultra-secluded feel make it the perfect spot to focus on absolutely nothing. Two-and-a-half kilometres of peace and quiet fringed with Pohutukawa (New Zealand’s answer to the Christmas tree), ideal for a spot of afternoon shade and a good book.