• Waiheke Island's Onetangi Bay: Stand on the bay's wide stretch of golden sand, and you can see for miles. On a clear day, throw yourself down into the sand and gaze at the steep pinnacles of Great Barrier Island and Little Barrier, off in the hazy distance. There might even be a few glimpses of the Coromandel in between deliciously warm swims.
  • Karikari Peninsula's Beaches: This is the Far North at its subtropical best - endless sweeps of sparkling white sand lapped by crystal-clear, azure-blue waters. And from Tokerau Beach to Rangiputa to Matai Bay, you could have miles of it to yourself for beachcombing, sunbathing, and swimming (with care).
  • Coopers Beach: Partly shaded by a bank of red-emblazoned pohutukawa trees, how could you not be content to stretch out here? Exercise? A walk to the water should do it!
  • Hot Water Beach: Don't ask me why, or how, but if you get here 2 hours before or after low tide, you can hollow out a spot on the beach for yourself, and then wait for natural hot water to seep up through the sand. A natural spa experience without paying a cent!
  • Mount Maunganui's Ocean Beach: Surf, sand, and sun - some people never want more than that. Slather on a bit of suntan lotion, don a pair of sunglasses and a skimpy swimsuit, and you'll be able to mix in with the best of the bronzed bodies that make an annual pilgrimage to this perennial beach and surf favorite.
  • Kaiteriteri Beach: Half of Canterbury makes a beeline for these blissful shores every summer. It's not expansive - in fact it's quite small, but perfectly formed nonetheless, and there's a busy vacation atmosphere with packed campgrounds and holiday houses. And with Nelson's endless hours of sunshine, who could complain about size?
  • Abel Tasman National Park's Beaches: Bush-wrapped and locked between rocky headlands, these idyllic golden patches from Marahau north to Totaranui are accessible by sea only. That's what makes them so special. Gliding through the turquoise waters in your sea kayak, with curious seals to keep you company, you can take your pick of isolated havens.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.