Some of NZ’s most beautiful and secluded beaches can only be accessed via a decent walk along a coastal track. These hidden gems lure you forward with glimpses of twinkling blue water on the horizon, before rewarding your efforts with swathes of sand and birds wheeling across the sky.
These special beaches make for a great day out. Remember to pack a picnic!
1. Smugglers Bay, Whangarei Heads, Northland
Access: An easy 40-minute return track from the car park at the end of Urquharts Bay Rd, straight to the beach.
Tucked away in the coastal forest of Bream Head Scenic Reserve, Smugglers Bay is a treasure trove of powder white sand, clear blue waters and rolling breakers.
2. Whites Beach, Anawhata, Auckland Region
Access: An easy-to-moderate 1‑hour return, 1.2km track descends steeply from Anawhata Rd, via a private concrete driveway to the beach.
Fans of this hidden gem in the Waitakere Ranges have described taking a dip here ‘like swimming in champagne’ and this west coast treasure happens to have been the favourite hideaway of Sir Edmund Hillary. (NB: beaches in this region require caution when swimming.)
3. New Chums Beach, Whangapoua Bay, Coromandel
Access: An easy-to-moderate, 1‑hour return track. Wade through the lagoon at the northern end of Whangapoua Beach, then around the boulders at the edge of the sea and across the saddle track to New Chums Beach.
With a long curved white-sand beach, clear waters and a pohutukawa-fringed shore, this pristine beach is a stunner. As one of the last undeveloped beaches on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Chums retains its purity thanks to its lack of easy access.
4. Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay, Nelson Region
Access: An easy 40-minute return track from the car park at the end of Wharariki Rd, through farm paddocks and a section of coastal forest to reach the beach.
Lying close to Farewell Spit, Wharariki Beach’s dramatic coastal landscape is a spectacular mix of sculpted caves, islets, rock pools and vast sand dunes. Keep an eye out for seals when visiting this beachcombers’ paradise.
5. Sandfly Bay, Otago Peninsula
Access: An easy 1‑hour return track from the car park at the end of Seal Point Rd, past massive sand dunes to this wild beauty spot.
This evocative beach gets its name from the sand that flies off the sand dunes on windy days, not from those annoying biting insects. There are spectacular views of the coastline and cliff tops, and it is the landing point for the rare yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho. Please respect the birds and sea lions by keeping your distance.