The Best Family-Friendly Beaches in New Zealand
With stunningly gorgeous scenery, unparalleled attractions and warmly welcoming people, New Zealand as a visitor destination is hard to beat. From wine-tasting at Gisborne’s many incredible vineyards to Queenstown bike adventures for the whole family, you can find something for everyone in Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand is renowned for being surrounded by beautiful coastline, so here are some of its best beaches for family-friendly fun. Be sure to stock up on cool sun hats and SPF 50 to protect your little ones (and yourself) from the powerful rays, and then you’ll be good to go!
90 Mile beach - one of the most famous in NZ - may not fully span 90 miles, but at 88 km it is still impressively long. Stretching from just west of Kaitaia towards Cape Reinga, the sandy beach is known for its spectacular sunsets. With activities ranging from swimming and surfing to fishing and even sandboarding on the giant dunes at Te Paki, there is something to delight visitors of all ages.
Auckland’s largest metropolis isn’t short of great beaches for family fun times. While the rugged beaches of West Auckland tend to be the domain of seasoned surfers, the more central beaches provide a mellower environment. The ever-popular Mission Bay is an obvious choice for families, with its shady trees, playpark and ice cream shops. And to give the kids an experience as entertaining as it is educational, Auckland’s world-class aquarium - Kelly Tarlton’s - is located conveniently close by.
Pic Credit: nelsonweekly.co.nz
Bay of Plenty
Mount Maunganui is a lively yet leisurely beach town with a host of activities to offer. Thanks to the sheltered bay on one side of the peninsula and the spectacular surf beach on the other, there is something to suit all swimming and surfing abilities. With the towering extinct volcano of the Mount offering superb hiking opportunities, a relaxing soak in the saltwater hot pools sounds like just the ticket after a long day of fun.
Koekohe Beach near Moeraki is a must for the geologically-inclined. The beach is home to the Moeraki Boulders, huge spherical stones each weighing several tons. Kids and adults alike will be wowed by these giant orbs, formed on the sea floor over millions of years and immortalised in Māori mythology. This is the ideal spot for a unique family photo opportunity.
Shelly Bay is one of the less-visited beaches in the Wellington area, but it makes up for it with history and charm. As the former location of an NZ Air Force base, the bay more recently doubled as “Skull Island” in the 2005 remake of King Kong. Kids will be excited at the possibility of spotting fur seals and little blue penguins, and the weekly artisan market held in Sundays is the ideal place to pick up some charming hand-made souvenirs.
Hahei Beach is a perennial family favourite for its sheltered aspect and its gorgeous white sand fringed by picturesque Pohutukawa trees. From here you can visit historic Māori pā (fortress) sites or snorkel in the pristine waters of the Hahei marine reserve. Nearby, you can visit Cathedral Cove with its iconic limestone archway, star of many a postcard. And what visit to the Coromandel would be complete without a trip to Hot Water Beach? This beach is unique for its geothermally heated water that bubbles through the sand between high and low tides. Simply bring or hire a shovel, and get to work digging your very own hot pool! Don’t forget to check the tide times to avoid disappointment. This quintessential New Zealand experience is guaranteed to be unforgettable for the whole family. Happy travels!
This week's guest blog is brought to you by:
My name is Johanna, an aspiring creative writer from New Zealand. I’ve always loved everything about the beach – feeling the fine sand tickling my feet, the warm breeze brushing my face, and the soothing crash of waves on the shore. Between researching and writing for local business blogs and sites such as Jumpflex, I find time to unwind and relax, often with a quick escape to the beach with my friends. Follow me on Tumblr: Musings of Johanna.