New Zealand’s beautiful beaches, coast and islands: our top ten highlights
November 6, 2014 | By:

Remote seashores, golden sand and waterfront cabins, the country has it all. If you’re feeling active, try horseriding on the beach, or simply chill out at the water’s edge. Oliver Bennett reports

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Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

Explore the little towns of Opua, Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands

At the tip of NZ is the exquisite Bay of Islands where you can take a boat cruise. A great draw is to go to the Bay of Islands settlements – here you can potter, shop, dine and stay in one of NZ’s most gorgeous environments.

Sunbathe on the white beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park

Tasman Bay, in this glorious National Park reveals, has many coves of pale golden sand. Go beach-hopping past forests, marshes and rocky headlands, find your perfect beach, then relax in the quaint seaside town of Kaiteriteri, which offers masses of aquatic fun. For more details of the Abel Tasman National Park, click here

Try fishing off Motiti Island

About 30 people live on Motiti Island, which means there’s plenty of space for angling holiday-makers, aiming to catch the plentiful mao mao, snapper and kingfish. The fishing is great from shore and boat – and the diving is also superlative. 

Go horse riding along the Northland’s white-sand beaches

The Northland region, north of Auckland at the very top of New Zealand, can be reached from the Twin Coast Discovery Highway.

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Horse riding on Pakiri beach

Here you can indulge a great fantasy: riding a white horse along a white beach, just a couple of hours from Auckland and an experience that has been cited as one of the ‘100 Things One Must Do Before You Die’. Click here for details of horse-riding on Pakiri Beach.

Stay in a waterfront cabin in Golden Bay, Parapara

Golden Bay is a classic arc-shaped bay in the north of the South Island, with Farewell Spit, a 26km strand of fine golden sand.

Here you’ll find waterfront cabins with hot tubs and some of the world’s best sea-views: you’ll not only gaze onto the big blue, but also see dolphins and blue penguins. Perfect for rekindling your romance. 

Camp on Hahei beach, Coromandel

This amazing pink-coloured beach has both campsites and ‘free-camping’. Pitch your tent and explore the wildlife in the Hahei Marine Reserve, swim, kayak, relax and explore nearby Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, with its natural thermal springs. Click here for more information on Hahei beach and Coromandel.

Walk through the inner crater of an active volcano on White Island

White Island – also known as ‘Whakaari’ – has a volcano that has two advantages: it’s live, and it’s accessible.

Walk up to the huge crater, peer into its lake, and walk through the astonishing landscape within the crater, crunching fields of sulphur crystals amid plumes of steam. Excitement is afforded by its alert level 1, meaning constant background activity. Click here for information on White Island.

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White Island, on which there is a live volcano

Swim in the Kai Iwi Lakes in the North Island

Near Dargaville, the Kai Iwi Lakes date back to earth movements almost two million years ago, and they’re amazing: pine-fringed lakes with white sand beaches, wild swimming, trout fishing and kayak.

Bunk down in a Great Walk hut on the Heaphy Track

The Heaphy Track is one of the country’s most feted walks, and one of its inhabitants’ favourite soul-restoring activities is to stay in one of the seven Great Walk huts on this ancient Maori track.

Be sure to book in advance and due to their popularity, you can only stay for two consecutive nights. 

Hidden gem: Chatham Islands

This is remote – 750km to the east of New Zealand’s South Island in the South Pacific.  You’ll find fresh air, about 600 hardy souls on the two inhabited ‘Chathams’ (there are nine more) and peat-bogs, sea-cliffs, volcanic peaks and endless sandy beaches. Like being at the dawn of the world. 

High50 has partnered with Tourism New Zealand to bring you this guide. To discover more about New Zealand and to book, visit newzealand.com.