3 of New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Beach Towns

Summer is coming, meaning it’s almost time to get your beach (or at the very least your swimming togs) on! With its lack of crowds, pleasant weather conditions, clear crisp waters, clean beaches, great surf, and some of the best fish n’ chips in existence, New Zealand offers the very best in beach holidays. Here is a guide to three of the coolest beach towns across both the north and south islands!


With its relaxed atmosphere and stunning weather, Nelson is the perfect place for a family holiday. As well as being home to some of the most beautiful stretches of sand in New Zealand, Nelson is culturally cool with a buzzing food and wine scene, a multitude of artist’s studios and galleries and a casual-chic lifestyle to go with it. In terms of beach action, if you want to stick close to Nelson city, there are a range of beautiful beaches bordering the main town centre with the highlight being Tahunanui. A very family-friendly spot, Tahunanui is a great place to swim, play and picnic. There is even an exercise area for the family pooch!

Yacht in haven - Nelson, New Zealand
Yacht in haven – Nelson, New Zealand. Photo by nelsonnz

If you fancy venturing a bit farther, located just a short drive away from the Nelson township lies Kaiteriteri beach. Essentially one of the most beautiful beaches in the South Island, Kaiteriteri beach is the entrance to the Abel Tasman National Park. Here you can swim, surf, sun and sea kayak amongst the company of seals, penguins and dolphins. If you’re in dire need of a bit of sun and can’t wait until the Christmas holidays, spring is actually a great time to travel, as you’ll avoid the chaos of tourist season. You can search for cheap hotels in Nelson easily online!


Beautiful, historical and culturally cool, Mangawhai is a family-friendly holiday spot, alongside an ideal romantic destination for couples. With its array of colonial buildings, the abundance of art galleries, cool café scene and a great selection of retail stores, it makes for a great weekend getaway or extended summer holiday. Located a short drive from Auckland city, Mangawhai is a great spot for those looking for a weekend escape out of the city.

Mangawhai - New Zealand
Mangawhai – New Zealand. Photo by Sids1

Just five kilometres from Mangawhai is the beach township of Mangawhai Heads. With its lagoon-style harbour, awesome surf, large sand dunes and long stretches of gorgeous golden sand, New Zealand beaches don’t get much better than this. Take a fishing charter out for the day, hire a kayak, or just alternate between sunbathing and swimming. If you want to go a step further and make it a real, authentic Kiwi beach holiday, stay in a traditional batch or holiday home either in the Mangawhai township or at the Heads.


The Canterbury coastal gem of Kaikoura is a popular holiday destination amongst tourists, backpackers, couples and families. With its chilled-out charm and hippy-chic atmosphere, Kaikoura is home to many artists seeking creative inspiration, retirees craving a laid-back lifestyle, and families trying to escape the rat race of the big New Zealand cities. The result is a wonderful community full of warm, welcoming smiles and friendly faces.

But that doesn’t mean Kaikoura doesn’t know how to party. In fact, Kaikoura is home to an array of fantastic watering holes, delicious dining options and a very healthy nightlife, which is largely due to its buzzing backpacker population. It’s definitely at its best during summer at the height of the tourist season.

Kaikoura - New Zealand
Kaikoura – New Zealand. Photo by chanc

A beach is to be found around every corner of Kaikoura, as you will quickly see if you drive up from Christchurch. Most of the beaches are great for swimming, kayaking, fishing and diving; but don’t expect the same golden stretches of sand of the Nelson Bays area, as the majority of the beaches are made up of stone pebbles. However, it’s a perfect place to hang out with the seals, whales and dolphins and is particularly cool in the springtime when the curious baby seals come out to play and are more than happy to get up-close and personal to snap-happy tourists! The great thing about Kaikoura is that it can be easily fitted in for a few days on either side of a Christchurch or Marlborough holiday, being under 2.5 hours from Christchurch and just over an hour from Blenheim.

About the Author: Kiwi guest author Abbey Brenshaw is an independent travel blogger.


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