Five top picks of the lesser known beaches in New Zealand!
Karekare Beach, West Auckland
* Black sand beach
* 45 minutes’ drive from downtown Auckland
* Best for film nuts – The Piano was filmed here!
The natural colour palette of Karekare gives the beach a unique sense of place. Charcoal-black sand fading to taupe and stony grey-brown cliffs are diametrically opposed to the vivid blue of the west coast sky. The dark mood of the landscape is balanced by sunshine and a froth of surf at the shoreline.
Papamoa Beach, Bay of Plenty
* The quieter extension of popular Mount Maunganui Beach away from the crowds
* 30 minutes’ drive from the town of Tauranga
* Best for blokarting, a Kiwi invention likened to land-based yachting. Also great for surfcasting and potentially landing fresh fish for dinner.
Blokarting is a great sport for those who love both speed and sailing. Small and extremely manoeuvrable, blokarts can be sailed on any firm surface – low tide sand is ideal. At Papamoa near Mount Maunganui, you can rent a blokart and learn to zoom. It’s a lesson in exhilaration.
Cannibal Bay, Catlins
* Southland’s rugged coastline
* Do it as a day trip from Invercargill or Dunedin
* Best for spotting wildlife such as the rare yellow-eyed penguin, fur seals and elephant seals
The Catlins is an area on the south-east coast of the South Island. As a touring route, it is highly scenic – beaches, bays, waterfalls and wildlife promise to keep your camera busy. This beach, known as Cannibal Bay, is a breeding a resting ground for Hooker’s sea lions and elephant seals.
* An hour’s drive from Hamilton
* Best for surfing, Raglan is regarded as one of the best left hand breaks in the world
Fantastic sunsets are a built-in bonus at the west coast surf town of Raglan. While many people come here to catch waves, it’s also a place to enjoy para-gliding, fishing, arts and crafts, live music and great cafés. The coastline is spectacular and local accommodation options are often distinctly different.
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel
* Only accessible by foot or boat. Half an hour walk from the Coromandel town of Hahei
* Best for snorkeling and diving, the beach is the perfect launching place to explore the surrounding marine reserve.
You’ll find Cathedral Cove on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Framed by a massive natural rock arch, this magical beach is only accessible by boat, sea kayak or on foot. The walking track, which begins at Hahei, also provides access to great snorkelling at Gemstone and Stingray Bays.
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