A piece of paradise on New Zealand’s coolest beaches
Slop on some sunscreen and pop on your sandals. Summer is almost here and it's time to get a little sun on those pasty pins. From the crystal-clear waters of Matapouri Bay to the rugged black-sand beaches of the wild west coast, these top four beaches are just a short drive from some of Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ affordable, family-friendly accommodation.
One of the country’s most loved beaches, Castlepoint, is the jewel of the Wairarapa coast. Just an hour’s drive from your hotel, this rugged, unspoilt beach feels like a world away from civilisation. Pack a picnic and enjoy a peaceful day swimming, walking the bush tracks or exploring the old lighthouse – it's one of only two remaining in New Zealand. If you visit on a Saturday during the summer, you can join the crowd watching the famous horse racing on the beach and enjoy a cheeky flutter for the very reasonable price of NZ$2 (US$1.30) a ticket.
Matapouri Bay, Northland
Named by Lonely Planet as one of the best beaches in New Zealand, Matapouri Bay is like an untouched island paradise. The beach is uncrowded and beautifully calm, with clear waters and golden sand. Just 45 minutes from the Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge Paihia, Matapouri is the perfect daytrip destination during summer. It’s a safe swimming spot for kids and has several nearby walkways with spectacular coastal views. The bay is most famous for the tranquil Mermaid Pools – large natural rock pools that can be reached via a hill track towards the end of the beach.
Just 45 minutes from the Kingsgate Hotel Hamilton, Raglan is home to three beautiful black-sand beaches and is world famous for its amazing surf. Ngarunui Beach is a popular spot for families as it’s well patrolled by lifeguards during the high season. Its surf is also ideal for swimming and bodyboarding. For those wanting to try their hand at surfing, Raglan Surfing School offers classes throughout the summer and you can hire boards and wetsuits by the hour.
For more experienced surfers, Manu Bay and Whale Bay provide some impressively gnarly waves. Featured in the 1966 surfing film The Endless Summer, Manu Bay is famous for its peeling left-hand break, which is said to offer one of the longest rides in the world. Catch a wave or sit in the grandstand and watch the show.
There is no better example of New Zealand’s unspoilt, natural beauty than Piha Beach. A vast stretch of black sand on Auckland’s wild west coast, Piha is a popular spot for seasoned surfers who love the challenge of the notoriously powerful waves. It’s a fantastic place for families also, but swimmers should be careful to stay between the lifeguard flags as the beach is renowned for its strong currents. Piha is a 50-minute drive from your hotel in the city centre – the beautifully scenic trip through miles of native bush is an experience in itself. Make sure to stop at some of the lookout points on your way as the view across the Waitakere Ranges is quite spectacular.
Discover New Zealand’s other beauties.