Overlooking Ōhope Beach. © Mark Smith

Great Escapes: five beaches to visit before the end of summer

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We’ve rounded up our pick of New Zealand’s Must-Do beaches so you can make the most of the last days of summer. 

 1. Ōhope Beach, Bay of Plenty

You can't go past New Zealand's favourite beach. Officially voted the best-loved beach by kiwis a few years back, Ōhope is a magnificent 11km-long stretch of white sand near Whakatāne. Swimming, surfing, beach sports galore – you can do it all at Ōhope. 

To be voted New Zealand’s Best Beach in a country with 14,000km of coastline says a lot, and there is a lot that’s great about this stretch of paradise.

2. Moeraki, Otago

While not so much a white-sand, sun-lounging-type beach, Koekoe Beach on the Waitaki coast is arguably more interesting, as it’s home to he famously Instagrammable Moeraki Boulders. Not only photogenic, the boulders are a geological marvel – getting up to two metres in diameter and getting on for 60 million years old.

Sunrise at Moeraki #moeraki #moerakiboulders #nz #nzmustdo #travel #nightphotography

A post shared by Laser (@laser_2017_) on Feb 23, 2018 at 4:10pm PST

Although it may seem strange for something so unique, you are permitted to clamber over them for the ultimate selfie. Against the backdrop of that impressive sweep of coast, it’ll be one of your better ones.

3. Hot Water Beach, Coromandel

As the weather begins to cool off, what better way to appreciate the coastal scenery in comfort than with the geothermal wonders of Coromandel’s iconic Hot Water Beach.  

Just beneath the surface of the sand is a delicious, natural underground river that brings hot water to the beach almost on tap. Dig, put down spade, lower self in gently, relax, enjoy. Rinse, repeat. Literally – the fun of a cold swim in the surging seas, then a little laxing back in your personal spa, makes for a brilliant day out.

4. Stewart Island

New Zealand’s ‘third island’ has no shortage of spectacular coastline. And, being about as remote as you can get, you’ll likely have your secluded Stewart Island cove or sunny patch of sand all to yourself. 

If the conditions are right you can see the Aurora Australis from here. That alone is worth the trip. As well, Rakiura (as the island is known in Māori) has its beautiful beaches, outstanding hikes and a chance to see the Stewart Island kiwi or tokoeka in the wild: all only 40km from the mainland.

5. Te Henga, Auckland

Auckland’s West Coast beaches, with their fine black iron sand, can get perilously hot underfoot in peak summer. Much better to visit at the end of the season when you can enjoy a leisurely stroll without singeing your soles. Bethells Beach, aka Te Henga, is also home to a magnificent cliff top walkway where you can drink in the spectacular scenery of the wild west coast. 

Bethells beach cave 😍 #bethells #nzsummer

A post shared by Jessica Madin (@jessmadin) on Feb 20, 2018 at 5:05pm PST

This is an environment that soothes the soul yet inspires it in equal measure, blowing away the cobwebs from the city that is only an hour’s drive away. The black sand, white surf and blue skies have inspired local artists and excited visitors for decades, an experience that changed little in centuries. 

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