Here at Base Backpackers our local staff know the best beaches that you may not read about in your guide books! They may be off the beaten track – but that’s why we travel, right? So we asked our staff "what are the best secret New Zealand beaches?"
From black sandy beaches to hot water pools – no part of New Zealand is more than 128 kilometres from the ocean. What does that mean you ask? No matter where you are – a Campervan in Rotorua, a hostel in Queenstown or Road Tripping through New Zealand's north or south island - the beach is near by!
8 Secret Beaches in New Zealand
1. Black Pebble Beach, near Kaikoura, South Island
This beach is truly unique! Black Pebble Beach can be found north of Kaikoura, just near a town called Kekerengu. The Alps can be spotted in the background and the beach is usually pretty quiet. Although not too ‘hidden’ from the tourist trail – this is truly a sight not to miss!
2. Anapai Beach, Abel Tasman, North Island
Abel Tasman National Park is a top priority on the backpacker to do list. Situated at the tip of New Zealand’s north island – the national park is home to stunning bushwalks, beaches and greenery.
Mutton cove can be found near the northern tip of the Abel Tasman Great Walk. Like many of New Zealand’s secret beaches, Mutton Cove can only be reached by foot, boat or Kayak. If the walk is not up your alley – you can hire an Aqua Taxi to discover this remote and picturesque location.
Allow 3 – 5 days to explore the entirety of Abel Tasman National Park – there are walking trails and beaches that can be discovered in the duration of one day however. If you are a keen adventurer, there are a number of campsites throughout the national park. Ensure that you research walking times, weather and camp site locations before setting off! Mutton Cove campsite has running water, a fireplace and flush toilet.
3. Motunau Beach, north Canterbury, South Island
Motunau Beach is different to the rest – it resides along a stretch of rugged cliff faces and serves as a secret surf spot to the locals. The beach can be found about one third of the way between Christchurch and Kaikoura, just north of Pegasus Bay.
Ensure that you make the most of the amazing views from the top of the cliff face. On the horizon sits Motunau Island – once a whaling station, now a reserve home to an abundance of bird life including the endangered white flippered penguin.
4. New Chums Beach, Coromandel Peninsula
Untouched, New Chum’s Beach is only accessible by foot. Imagine white sand, turquoise ocean, and native Pohutukawa trees (the NZ Christmas Tree) – discoverable only by those willing to take on the one hour bush trek.
The north east coast of Coromandel Peninsula is a common destination on the tourist trail. The further north you venture – the more secluded the coastline. To get there – make your way to the northern end of Whangapua Beach from the township of Coromandel. Continue along the coastline – expect to tackle some large boulders – until you reach a rough track. The track will guide you over the headland and through native bush before you reach New Chum’s Beach.
5. Awanah, Great Barrier Island, North Island
Awanah Beach is a breath taking surf beach located on Great Barrier Island – which can be found 100km from Auckland. The beach resides in a cove of greenery and is also a secret among the New Zealand surf community. Ferries depart from Auckland to Great Barrier Island – and a campsite is available 300m from Awanah Beach for those wanting to soak up the remote beauty for a day or two.
6. Tapotupotu Bay, Cape Reinga, North Island
This is the most northern accessible beach in New Zealand and is a sight not to miss - white sand and green headlands. Allow 1 ½ hours travel time north from Kaitaianorth to Tapotupotu. Beach camping is available. This hidden gem is ideal for surfing, fishing and hiking. Take a day trip up to Cape Reinga from Paihia.
7. Tawhitokino, south east Auckland, North Island
Located north of the Firth of Thames, Tawhitokino can be found half way between the townships of Ohere and Papanui. This untouched, 1.4 kilometre long stretch of beach is only accessible by boat, kayak or foot.
Allow one hour to walk the Tawhitokino track which can be found at the end of Kawakawa Bay Coast Rd – just past Waiti Bay. The track will take you through the shores of several beach fronts and over ricks – ensure that you make your way to and from the beach at low tide!
8. Waipiro Bay, East Coast, North Island
Just 75km north of Gisborne, Waipiro Bay is one of the first places in the world to see the sunrise! Waipiro Bay is also the name of the tiny town settlement that resides by this secret surf and fishing spot! The town was once the busiest community on the East Coast of New Zealand’s north island. But in the 1920s a road was built bypassing the Bay, and today just 100 people inhabit the tiny beach side community. There are many free camping spots in surrounding areas.
Feeling inspired? You may like our complete Complete Backpacking New Zealand Guide