Northland is all about beaches, blue water, fishing, diving, and more… The best beaches in New Zealand are in the north!
On the east coast the sand is predominately white, and on the west coast it’s black. Most areas have boat ramps and safe swimming available.
You might not be local yet, but after reading this guide, you may just decide to become one!
- Smugglers Cove: Whangarei Heads’ hidden treasure
This beauty of a white-sand beach is a short walk off the Urquharts Rd carpark, over a low hill surrounded by pasture and the occasional herd of cows. For the more adventurous, the Busby Head walk around to Smugglers Cove takes longer and consists of more inclines – however the views along the way are spectacular, and the historical WWII gun emplacements are great to explore (perfect for kids and adults alike). Once you’ve arrived at Smugglers Cove you’ll be blown away by the powdery white sand and turquoise waters – this is one unexaggerated gem of a beach. Due to it’s off-the-track location, it’s also easily possible to be the only visitors, making it an extra-special location to sit back and relax.
Pebbly Bay – no sand in your lunch here!
Known to locals simply as ‘Pebbly Bay’, this sheltered bay can be found at the very northern end of Matapouri Bay, following the track that leads to Whale Bay, over the sand dunes. While it’s not actually ‘hidden’ as such, it’s definitely undervalued. The smooth, rounded stones that are this beach’s namesake offer unlimited fun for the kids in your family (even the big ones) and many locals have found real treasure here: complete seahorse skeletons, unusual fossils, and gorgeous shells. Snorkelling and spearfishing off this beach is fantastic; with varied rock formations offering a myriad of underwater hidey-holes for marine life both weird and wonderful. A warm, sand-less spot ideal for a quick spot of lunch or a prolonged fossick – locals love Pebbly Bay.
- Frogtown Beach – stay the night and relax
A day trip out to Pataua South’s Frogtown beach is always a pleasure: and if you’re keen on staying over, Treasure Island holiday park is right next door! Frogtown beach used to be populated by numerous shacks and ramshackle dwellings – however the majority of these have disappeared now. The beach itself is accessible either from a straight walk from the Mahanga Road carpark at Pataua South, or – if you are staying at the lovely Treasure Island holiday park, directly across from the park itself. The beach is a white sand delight, with gently rolling surf ideal for boogie boarding kids, and a great array of rockpools on the northern end. The southern end has a sheltered large rockpool which offers safe, calm toddler and young child swimming options – truly a beach with something for everyone!
- Puriri Bay – back to nature
Puriri Bay is a DOC campsite and an all-round nature haven. Known for it’s night-time kiwi-spotting opportunities, this bay offers year-round sheltered swimming for the whole family. Located 22kms north of Whangarei, at Whangaruru North, this beach is also a very popular DOC campsite during the summer months. Locals love fishing off the rocks here, although the fishing is best before the sun rises so be prepared for an early start if this is your mission! At the northern end of the beach, the sand becomes a courser grained pebbled mixture, while at the southern end the beach runs to a fine white sand. There are great tree swings into the water at both ends, and large old Pohutukawa trees leaning out over the water for good old-fashioned tree-climbing fun. It’s a bit of a drive, but will be one of the most beautiful beaches you visit this year.
- Teal Bay – turn back the clock
A visit to Teal Bay is very much like stepping back in time. This happily settled little beach community is remote – yet very self-contained. You get the impression that many of the houses and baches dotted along the simple roads have been here for generations – and in many cases, they have been. It’s a quaint, gentle, embracing beach with a simple feel and a lovely aspect. It’s a place to sit and watch the sun go down with your special someone, a place to head out for a boy’s fishing weekend, and a place to gather for a family BBQ. It’s safe, it’s quiet (although in summer things can get very busy, even here!) and it exudes a gentle charm that’s hard to beat. Take a drive and check it out, you’ll fall in love with the unassuming kiwiana of Teal Bay.
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