Top Beaches of New Zealand

New Zealand is home to some incredible beaches. 

It’s true that there’s nothing quite like the magic of New Zealand. Filled with incredible scenery, rugged coastline, and mountainous scenes, there is so much to see while holidaying here. However, while many know this landscape for adventure-filled trips and hikes, it’s also home to some beautiful beaches, too. Located in both the North Island and South Island, the beaches here are as beautiful as they are diverse, with calm waters paired with epic waves, and many black sandy beaches also rivalling the golden and white sands. They’re certainly worth a visit, if not just to take a picture of the exceptional beauty before moving on to another adventure. However, many areas are perfect to spend the day at, with snorkelling opportunities, surfing, swimming, and so much more available here. 

Piha, North Island

Piha is one of the most famous beaches in New Zealand, and with good reason. The beach is an incredible black sand formation, with the surf enticing visitors every single day. It’s actually the birthplace of New Zealand surfing, so you’ll likely always find a few surfers attempting to ride the waves here. Be careful though, as these waves are as formidable as they are beautiful to look at, with the mighty Lion Rock a distinctive aspect of the rugged coast, here. With strong currents and big waves, only the experienced should try and surf at this location. If you visit in summer then there are lifeguard patrolled sections for those wanting a dip to escape the heat. 

Piha is a 55 minute drive from our Auckland Airport rental car location or a 1 hour and 18 minute drive from our Auckland Downtown location.

Ninety Mile Beach, North Island

This beach is one of the coolest in the world. Why? Well, as well as being astonishingly beautiful, it’s also a highway! Drive along on the shore and experience one of the most unique driving experiences possible. Truth be told, the stretch of beach is actually only 88 kilometres long, but it’s still incredibly impressive and a lot of fun to experience. You can head here while visiting the Northland region of the North Island. Either head up here yourself or go on a tour bus to experience it for yourself - it’ll surely be a lot of fun! Of course, you can also head into the ocean while visiting here and play in the sand too - it’s a beach after all.

Ninety Mile Beach is a 2 hour and 15 minute drive from our Kerikeri Airport rental car location.

Cathedral Cove, North Island

You might recognise this beach as soon as you arrive, particularly if you’re an avid movie fan. It’s actually the backdrop to the Chronicles of Narnia, and it’s so easy to see why. This spectacular beach has a beautiful archway that you can look out to the ocean beyond - with Hahei Beach providing an epic backdrop, too. It’s one of the most picturesque spots in the whole country, so you’ll likely want to bring your camera before descending onto the beach and into the ocean. 

Cathedral Cove is a 2 hour and 17 minute drive from our Auckland Airport rental car location and a a 2 hour and 27 minute drive from our Tauranga Airport rental car location.

Mt Maunganui, North Island

Mt Maunganui is home to The Bay of Plenty, which is a chilled-out beach town that is renowned for having the best surf in New Zealand. It’s a favourite amongst locals for its consistent chilled out atmosphere, and you’ll often find holidayers from all over New Zealand flocking here during the spring and summer months. With plenty of cafes, lots of scenic spots, and great water too, you’ll never want to leave. 

Hire a car from Mt Maunganui to explore this beachside town.

Abel Tasman, South Island

Abel Tasman is  one of the most picturesque places in New Zealand, and you’ll feel like you’re on a tropical holiday when visiting here, no matter what time of the year. With incredible blue ocean waters, golden sandy beaches, and plenty of beautiful coast and bush walks throughout the main national park, Nelson Tasman. However, Abel Tasman might just be the best of the bunch, so if you’re in the area, venture here. 

Abel Tasman National Park is a 1 hour and 1 minute drive from our Nelson Airport rental car location.


We could easily list another hundred beaches. The rugged coast of New Zealand is unlike anywhere else, and it’s definitely worth a visit to the coast while you’re holidaying here. While these might be the best of the best, there are beaches on every corner of this island country, so get out in your Thrifty rental car and explore all that this beautiful destination has to offer - you might just discover your own hidden gem along the way.

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