A beach escape is always a good idea. Wind in your hair, sand on your skin and the sounds of waves crashing is sometimes all you need to reset and recharge. Take that relaxation to the next level and head to one of New Zealand’s lesser-known beach towns where you can be treated to glorious views and waves—without the crowds. Thankfully, our country is practically one big beach, with plenty of under-the-radar beach towns to plant your parasol and swim and sunbathe the days away.
Without further ado, here’s New Zealand’s best under-the-radar beach towns.
Teeny tiny Kekerengu is a coast town that sits on the right coast of the South Island, just 56 km north of Kaikōura and 73 km south of Blenheim. Jump on State Highway 1, and enjoy the long scenic drive of turquoise ocean views as it takes you all the way to this sweet little seaside settlement. From here, you can easily access the natural wonder that is Black Pebble Beach, just a short drive north. The water can be a little on the chilly side, but this just adds to the rugged charm of this already gorgeous spot.
We all know and love Northland must-see, Ninety Mile Beach with its impressive stretches of sand and choppy waves. Lesser known is its equally beautiful baby sibling beach, Ahipara, just south and tucked into the hook of a harbour. This gem of a beach has everything we love about Kiwi West Coast beaches—without the copious crowds—making it one of New Zealand’s best under-the-radar beach towns. Here you can get amongst the surf, collect shellfish from the seabeds or combine the two by trying your hand at surfcasting. Whatever you do here, make sure you venture to nearby Shipwreck Bay to see the relics of a few—you guessed it —shipwreck relics from a bygone era.
Forget R&V being what springs to mind when you first think of Gizzy. Instead, let the blissful Waipiro Bay and its glimmeringly gorgeous waters be your longstanding memory of Gisborne. With a small township nearby as well as camping sites smack-bang on the beach, there’s all kinds of options when it comes to picking out your perfect getaway here. Enjoy fishing, snorkelling and even the odd spot of surf here while being surrounded by impressive cliffs and looking off into the bright blue distance.
Manu Bay is one of the most popular breakpoints along Raglan for those keen surfers in the know. As well as being a spectacular, swell-ridden body of water, the beach town around the bay itself makes for a perfect getaway. With many surf-goers opting to stay in and around the heart of Raglan township, the pocket-sized village around Manu Bay makes for the perfect under-the-radar getaway spot. Be sure to catch the sun go down while you’re here and enjoy the colourful sunset above the long, glistening waves that roll on in.
Pictures of the Moeraki Boulders—or rather, people posing ethereally on them—will have no doubt blown up your Instagram feed at one point or another. If you fancy bandwagoning on this trend, or treating yourself to an unreal seaside escape, then fill up the tank and go on a roadie to this stunning South Island landmark. While it might be a stop, snap, and dash kind of beach for most passers by, a stay in the quiet and relaxing Moeraki village is well in order for those seeking a relaxing beach town getaway.
Another Hawke’s Bay gem of an under-the-radar beach town is Wainui-Makorori. Just a 10km drive north of Gisborne will take you to this picturesque coastal community. With houses propped along the road that runs parallel to the beauty that is Makorori beach, you can be sure that the Airbnb you grab here will have killer views, and be in walking distance to the waves.
You know that when a stretch called ‘Black Jack Road’ is taking you there, the destination is going to be a goodie. Enter Otama Beach: a breathtakingly beautiful spot on the northeast of the Coromandel Peninsula. Stretching across 2km and protected by an equally large natural dune, Otama beach is a feast for the senses with its soft white sand, crystal clear water and views for days. Home to a small handful of homes and Airbnbs to rent, you can guarantee that your getaway here will be both blissful and peaceful.
Need an under-the-radar beach escape? Meet Maiti Bay. While this gem of a beach doesn’t have a little mainland beach town dedicated to it per say, it does have a campground and nearby motor camp that becomes a tent-town of sorts, making it the natural fit for accommodation for this slice of untouched paradise. Rev up the engine pronto—blissful blue waters mirroring that of a tropical island await in this North Island oasis.
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Image Credit: David Kirkland