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Best Beaches North Island

Tampa, Florida
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52 posts
9 reviews
4 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
New Zealand
Destination Expert
for Mamanuca Islands, Rarotonga, Fiji, North Island
Level Contributor
6,841 posts
32 reviews
131 helpful votes
11. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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As soon as you have decided on what to do when check out the booking platform for Hobbiton - dates are already filling up for the time you'll be here in New Zealand.

Tampa, Florida
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52 posts
9 reviews
4 helpful votes
12. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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Yes, thank you! We got on the waitlist for the evening banquet and second breakfast tours a couple weeks ago. We have tickets for the lunch tour in case, though it sounds rushed.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for South Island
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17,498 posts
214 reviews
106 helpful votes
13. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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What does your perfect beach look like. "Best" is really subjective. Do you want to surf, swim or just walk an hour along white/gold/black sand and not see anyone. The North Island has a lot of coastline for a smallish island.

Our idea of crowd might be quite different to yours. We were at Raglan recently. End of winter. Blowing a gale and the surf eas up. Probably 100 surfing. However 100 meters from where the surfers were the beach was deserted.

We loved the wild desolation of the place but won't be going back soon. Have been on beaches in the Bay of Island where the cliffs were covered in bright red Poutakawa.

What are you after.

Palmerston North...
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2,356 posts
91 reviews
11 helpful votes
14. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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OP you mention "water activities" and Hot Water Beach. Unless you can "read" a beach for such things as RIPS, I suggest you do not swim or surf at the beaches mentioned except between the flags of a SLS club.

Further to the SLS mentioned in my earlier reply note that there are SLS clubs at Waihi Beach (north western end) , Maketu, Pukehina Beach, Ohope and Waiotahi beaches. At the dates of your visit there will will probably be surf patrols on duty - look for red and yellow flags.

"Bowentown/Athenree, Omokoroa" in Tauranga Harbour as mentioned in # 9 are NOT "Best Beaches" due to shallow sand slopes which result in long distances between high and low tieds

Tampa, Florida
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52 posts
9 reviews
4 helpful votes
15. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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Yes, “best” is very subjective. The description I used originally was most beautiful (sand quality/view/natural area), best use of our time (based on our limited North Island itinerary), 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). We don’t mind some crowds, but if there is a more remote one to explore in the area — or a secluded walking path to check out for part of the day — that would be nice, too. We don’t surf, but a scenic kayak tour would be lovely.

As of now, I’m thinking we’d stay in Waihi for two nights and go to Mount Maunganui one of the days. If there are other small beaches to stop at along the way, towns to see or paths to enjoy, please let us know! You all have been wonderful.

California
Destination Expert
for New Zealand
Level Contributor
18,618 posts
71 reviews
33 helpful votes
16. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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I rather like the black sand beaches of West Auckland. Karekare we seemed to have all to ourselves. Piha more crowded but climbing Lion Rock and exploring the Gap were pluses. Murawai has the bonus of a Gannet colony.

Though too far for the OP's travels, Tongaporutu is awesome with its rock stack formations.

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central, New Zealand, North Island, Cook Islands
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28,657 posts
140 reviews
82 helpful votes
17. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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I totally loved our stay at Bowentown motor camp. Quiet, near secluded and the scenery of this spot is awesome! Lovely beachfront too.

Waihi Beach at the other end of this long stretch of sandy beach is more popular. More built up with cafes and places to stay. Plus it's a shorter driving distance from Waihi township. Waihi and Waihi Beach are two separate locations. Waihi is the older, established town founded upon gold mining. The Martha mine occupies a central part of the township's hill behind the shopping centre. Nowadays, both gold and silver are mined underground within the hills behind the coastal area.

Whilst I appreciate that Whangamata is 30 + minutes north of Waihi, adding distance to your road journey, this is another wonderful East Coromandel coastal spot, with a decent sized township, surf beach with surf life saving patrol, plus there are kayaking tours to Do'nut island. Inland hikes along old gold mining trails, native bush and bush clad hills behind the township. Tairua and Pauanui are located on an estuary to the north of Whangamata. SH25A has reopened to road traffic, and serves a most useful route across the Coromandel ranges towards Thames and on to Auckland.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
17,498 posts
214 reviews
106 helpful votes
18. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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Good point about watching for rips! They are killers. Only swim on patrolled beaches and swim between flags.

We were at Sumner Beach in Christchurch the other weekend. A pretty tame beach usually. Not much in the way of surf compared to Dunedin.

The surf club had "rip" signs all over the place and flags were relatively close together.

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central, New Zealand, North Island, Cook Islands
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28,657 posts
140 reviews
82 helpful votes
19. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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The North Island has a plethora of beautiful sandy Beaches in NZ. Far more than any single bay alone! Ohope Beach is renowned as a favourite, but anywhere along the BOP coastline is equally beautiful!

To bag a North Island west coast beach like Raglan is not in keeping with the usual flow. Weather plays an intrinsic value like it does over the rest of NZ?

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
17,498 posts
214 reviews
106 helpful votes
20. Re: Best Beaches North Island
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I wasn't "bagging" Raglan! We loved the 2 days we spent on them quite recently.

It was October, the end of spring! Wild and windy. Loads of people surfing but a couple of hundred meters away...solitude.

Thought it was fantastic!

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