If you've been thinking of taking some time off to explore faraway lands, New Zealand is nothing short of paradise for those who love nature, coastal scenes and wine. As one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world, New Zealand has several coastal destinations that you don't want to miss out on. New Zealand is easy to navigate and offers 14,000 kilometers of stunning coastline. It's a country that will have you falling in love over and over again.
New Zealand's Beaches are very diverse, ranging from sands dotted with trees to beaches with surf-worthy waters that lap the shore. There's a little stretch of coastline for everyone here. Look over this compilation of the best coastal spots in the country to see which ones are made for you.
Best Coastal Destinations in New Zealand
1. Cathedral Cove
Once you get there, it isn't hard to see how this place got its name. One of the stunning rock formations makes a steeple-like point that serves as the beauty mark of this stunning beach. You can easily reach this pristine spot on foot or by navigating the sparkling waters via kayak. Cathedral Cove offers Instagram-worthy photo-ops and breathtaking views that might make you forget to take pictures.
2. Ninety Mile Beach
Fun fact number one: This beach is actually only 64 miles long.
Fun fact number two: This beach is also a highway.
Grassy dunes are the highlight of this beach, perfect for sand dune boarding. Most people travel on a bus tour to see the longest beach in New Zealand, probably a bit safer to be with a professional driver who knows the tide times! There's even an annual surfcasting competition known as the Snapper Classic.
3. Gillespie Beach
At the base of the Southern Alps sits this pebble-laden beach. From here you can take in the majesty of Fox Glacier. A six-mile drive to the beach takes you to a historic gold-mining settlement that you can explore at your leisure and ends up at a primitive campsite where you can bond with other campers. It's an off-road type of adventure that backpackers can't seem to get enough of.
If you're looking for some action, look no further than Queenstown. This coastal town sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and has a lot to offer if you are looking for a thrill. You can check off bungy jumping and wine drinking off of your to-do list after visiting Queenstown. Get your thrills at AJ Hackett's bungy site as you plummet through mid air or hike Queenstown Hill before heading to a local winery. You simply must try the Otago Pinot Noir. The nightlife here is a party lover's dream!
Need somewhere to stay? Stay at Base Queenstown!
Kaikoura is located at the bottom of the Seaward Kaikoura Range. This town certainly isn't as lively as Queenstown, but the marine life and stunning scenes fully compensate for that. At Kaikoura, you will be able to spot Sperm Whales and dolphins. You can even sign up for swimming with the dolphins or a whale watching tour that guarantees a whale sighting. Kaikoura offers a few spots to grab a drink and a bakery that makes the best meat pies.
6. Bay of Islands
Just north of Auckland, the Bay of Islands is the ultimate backpacker's destination. White sand beaches meet stunning blue waters on these tropical islands. Paihia is the place to be while you are visiting the Bay of Islands. It's right on the water and it's brimming with bars and hostels. In the Bay of Islands, you can sunbathe, swim with dolphins, go diving and kayaking, and hop from island to island.
7. Coromandel Peninsula
Just an hour-long ferry trip from Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula is anything but bustling. It's a sweet escape from busy after spending a few days in the city. Here, you can taste delectable smoked muscles, hike the mountains, or bop around the various fishing villages. Don't forget to stop by Hot Water Beach to dig your own warm mineral pool.
8. Manu Bay, Raglan
Manu Bay was used as the setting for the 1966 film, The Endless Summer. If you love to surf, you can't visit New Zealand without experiencing the renowned swells of Manu Bay. Massive swells and waves are a surfer's delight, and every board-carrying wave chaser should make a pilgrimage to Manu Bay at least once. Five miles away in Raglan, you can relish in the easygoing vibe and bohemian crafts.
9. Lake Taupo
Oceania's biggest freshwater lake is located right in the middle of the North Island. Lake Taupo was formed after a volcanic eruption left a crater in the ground. At its deepest spot, the lake is 600 feet deep! If you are seeking an adventure, you can bungy jump, kayak to see the rock art or have a go on the Huka Falls Jet. Lake Taupo also boasts one of the best skydiving locations in New Zealand (and the world).
Need somewhere to stay? Stay at Base Taupo!
10. Allans Beach
This beach really takes you off of the beaten path. Getting to Allans Beach entails a beautiful drive to the edge of Dunedin for a peek at remote beaches dotted with majestic, soaring cliffs. The wildlife at Allans Beach makes the trip worthwhile. You will be able to spot penguins, sea lions, and seals in their natural habitat. They do a great job of blending in, so you may have to look a little harder to spot them.
11. Wainui Beach
You'll find no better place to watch the sunrise than on Wainui Beach. Majestic green slopes surround the beach where you can find surfers catching the plentiful waves. If you aren't up for surfing, you will find plenty of picnic-worthy spots along the stretch and a hiking trail nestled in the dunes. Wainui Beach was made for peaceful days where you will have your happiest moments as a backpacker in New Zealand.
Whether you want the thrill of nightlife and extreme sports, a day filled with surfing, or a laid-back picnic and a hike, New Zealand's coastal destinations provide backpackers with stunning views and an ample selection of activities and scenery. New Zealand provides a backpacker-friendly venue with something new around every corner.
If you want to check out some more of New Zealands beautiful beaches check out these 8 secret beaches that are well worth a visit!
Author: Devin is a successful entrepreneur who has enjoyed traveling on a budget with his wife and kids. He and his family enjoy backpacking across countries, touring historical sites, and relaxing on the occasional luxury vacation.