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Best Beaches North Island

Tampa, Florida
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52 posts
9 reviews
3 helpful votes
Best Beaches North Island
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My husband and I looking for some beautiful beaches in North Island to spend two nights. We only have five nights in North Island before spending the majority of our holiday in the South Island. This is because I have already been to the North Island, and our focus is some of the hikes in South Island. In North Island, we're thinking a day at Hobbiton/Waitomo, maybe Taupo or Rotorua, and then beaches. I've identified three areas -- but if I'm missing a good one, please let me know! Which do you think would be most beautiful, best use of our time, and most things to do in the area if we're spending two nights (this could be nearby day hikes, water activities, great restaurants, etc)

Coromandel Beach/Cathedral Cove/Hot Water Beach

----- This is where I went previously. It's gorgeous, and I think my husband would love it. But also, I would enjoy going somewhere new if it fits with our schedule.

Bay of Islands

----- Looks gorgeous with lots of beaches and hikes within an area, but I'm worried it will make it more challenging to see other parts of North Island in our limited team.

Bay of Plenty

---- We like having restaurants/bars to explore in a beach town, too. But my concern is this area may be too crowded, and I can't tell if the beaches are as gorgeous as the other two. I may be wrong!

Thank you in advance for your help!

24 replies to this topic
Nelson-Tasman...
Destination Expert
for South Island, Nelson-Tasman Region, New Zealand, Tonga
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23,740 posts
726 reviews
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1. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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IMO the best beaches in NZ are on the abel tasman national park at the top of the south island or medlands beach at great barrier island.

What time of the year are you travelling?

I was in northland and bay of islands this month. Sandy bay,Matapouri and Whale Bay are all lovely.

Mt Maunganui is a beautiful beach - but gets very busy.

Edited: 11 December 2023, 07:14
New Zealand
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2,778 posts
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2. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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Kia ora,

Goat island. The beaches are very good and the snorkelling is excellent.

Christchurch, New...
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for Christchurch, South Island, Akaroa
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3. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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What time of year? Do you want a surf beach? All the Bay or Plenty beaches are lovely and some are less crowded than others. BoP is closer to the other destinations on your wish list. Consider Ohope, Papamoa, Waihi Beach ...

Auckland, New...
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68 reviews
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4. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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Waihi Beach is high on my list.

HWB is over rated in my opinion. It takes ages to dig a hole for the hot water and the currents are very strong for swimming. There are notices about how dangerous it is.

Mount Maunganui is a lovely beach but in summer weekends it will be crowded and hard to get a park. The circular track around the base of the Mount is a lovely walk.

Omaha just past Warkworth is a fabulous beach. You'd have to get an Air BnB there as there are no motels right by the beach

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for Mamanuca Islands, Rarotonga, Fiji, North Island
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32 reviews
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5. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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Stunning:

https://thecoromandel.com/explore/new-chums

Palmerston North...
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91 reviews
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6. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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Further to # 1 - Mt Maunganui has 3 different beaches - Pilot Bay (inside the harbour) , The Mount Main Beach (most popular) and then Mount Maunganui , Omanu, Arataki, and Papamoa Beaches running south east to the Kaituna River.

There are surf live saving clubs at the Main , Omanu and Papamoa beaches which have patrols for safer swimming.

As mentioned in # 1 the traffic is very busy especially late December to early February. When I lived there I would only surf after 5 pm during that period.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central, New Zealand, North Island, Cook Islands
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7. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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I've replied to your other thread, regarding your short NZ visit. I suggested Mt Maunganui which gets crowded over summer. However, it's a relatively short drive from Rotorua and Hobbiton, with cafes and other services.

Hahei, Cathedral Cove and other Mercury Bay beaches are further to drive to. You'll lose valuable time through driving, rather than enjoying those East Coromandel beaches.

Waihi Beach is one of my all time favourites. Not the same cafe scene as the Mount, but a lovely 9km long stretch of beachfront. Plus this Bay of Plenty location is handy to Auckland airport, using SH2 into Waihi and away from Waihi. If you decide upon this beautiful coastal area, best not to drive into Tauranga traffic if you can help it.

California
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for New Zealand
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8. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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Cathedral Cove has been closed since cyclone Gabrielle went through. It will not be open this summer season. https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/coromandel/places/hahei-area/tracks/cathedral-cove-walk/

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central, New Zealand, North Island, Cook Islands
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9. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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While the Cathedral Cove track from the top carpark to the beach below is closed, the boat tours and kayaking tours go close to the shoreline of Cathedral Cove. These marine tours depart from Hahei beach.

However, due to driving distances, I avoided making any Coromandel recommendations for locations north of Waihi township. Hence Waihi Beach, Bowentown/Athenree, Omokoroa and Mt Maunganui/Papamoa are closer to Hobbiton, and Rotorua also.

With only 4 nights on the North Island, it's best to keep your short driving loop restricted to a small geographical area. If you are now considering flying to the South Island first, Christchurch to Rotorua becomes an advantage. Main concern would be to find our whether you can do a one way car hire from Rotorua to Auckland airport? As yet we don't know when your NZ visit is taking place?

Tampa, Florida
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52 posts
9 reviews
3 helpful votes
10. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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Yes, thank you. Your comments have been very helpful! We will be there Jan 26-Feb 7.

As of now, we are leaning toward two nights in Bay of Plenty, hitting Waihi, Mount Maunganui and maybe seeing Ohope or Papamoa if time allows.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments above! Very helpful!

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