Surrounded by sea in practically every direction, Auckland didn’t get its nickname “City of Sails” without reason. And while the city’s maritime history is hardly a secret, there’s one thing that might catch you off guard while searching through the best places to visit in Auckland: its beautiful beaches.
The best beaches in Auckland are as eclectic as the city itself. As you wander to the oceanfront fringes of New Zealand’s largest city, you’ll stumble upon everything from pristine white-sand beaches to black-sand shorelines surrounded by volcanic landscapes & coastal forests.
Ready to experience Auckland’s finest seaside pleasures? Get started with this guide to the best beaches near Auckland…
Located in the quiet suburb of Devonport, Cheltenham Beach is one of the best places to start your tour of Auckland’s seaside. Thanks to its quiet & relaxed vibe, Cheltenham is popular with locals, contributing to the town’s laid-back reputation.
One of the beach’s most compelling features is its views towards Rangitoto Island. Cheltenham Beach is also connected in its southeast corner to the North Head Historic Reserve, New Zealand’s most important historical defence site.
If you’re craving a little more action, head further north in Auckland’s North Shore district to Takapuna Beach. With its calm waters, assortment of activities, and breathtaking views of the Hauraki Gulf, Takapuna Beach has become one of the most popular beaches in Auckland, especially among families with young children.
Another drawcard to visiting this famous beach is the area around it. Takapuna is a lively beachfront town full of great restaurants, bars & cafés. There’s also a popular market here on Sundays.
Karaka Bay Beach
Tucked away in the suburb of Glendowie to the west of Auckland’s city centre, Karaka Bay is a lovely sandy beach at the wide mouth of the Tamaki River. The beach is widely thought to be one of the four signing places of the Treaty of Waitangi, the document that established New Zealand as a British crown colony in 1840.
Although it’s only a 30-minute drive from the city centre, Karaka Bay Beach is among the quietest of Auckland’s best beaches. There’s no road access to the beach itself. From Peacock Street above, you’ll need to scuttle down a steep path to get down to the beach and enjoy the seabreeze and bay views in the shade of the pohutukawa trees.
Although most famous for its award-winning wineries and vineyards, there’s another reason to visit Waiheke Island: Oneroa Beach.
This lovely beach, set along a quiet sheltered bay in the Hauraki Gulf, sparkles with white sand and is a fantastic stop for your Waiheke Island itinerary.
After enjoying the seaside pleasures of Oneroa Beach, make sure to explore the pleasant town’s eclectic selection of restaurants, cafés, and boutique shops. There’s also a number of great walks in the area including to the nearby Newton Reserve and along the longer Park Point Coastal Track.
Sprawling along the west coast of Auckland, Piha Beach is among the city’s most popular seaside destinations. The black-sand beach is widely touted as the the top surfing destination in Auckland with its powerful swells.
Aside from surfing and swimming in the water (when it’s deemed safe, of course!), Piha Beach lies on the edge of the rugged Waitakere Ranges, a fantastic destination for outdoor adventure.
Start by climbing the beach’s famous Lion Rock, the craggy hill shooting through the centre of the beach, before heading further island to take to some of the best hiking trails near Auckland.
Situated 40 kilometres north of downtown Auckland, Orewa Beach is among the longest and most popular beaches in the Auckland area, stretching three kilometres along the coastline. The golden sand beach features a relaxed surf that makes it a hit for families looking to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
There’s plenty to do at Orewa Beach from swimming to kitesurfing to enjoying a picnic. The resort town of Orewa is also quite pleasant itself, loaded with quaint shops and excellent restaurants & cafés for your shopping, eating & drinking pleasure.
If you want even more serenity for your Auckland beach adventure, head a few kilometres north to Waiwera Beach or explore the coastal forests before settling down on Wenderholm Regional Park Beach.
Perched upon Auckland’s rugged west coast, Muriwai Beach is a favourite destination for surfers and bird-watchers alike. If you’re an adrenaline junkie with a taste for the ocean, the strong Tasman Sea surf at this popular volcanic sand beach will be right up your alley.
Even if hitting the waves isn’t your thing, Muriwai Beach is also famous for its cliff-top gannet nesting colony. Grab your telephoto lens or a pair of binoculars to watch the distinctive seabirds chill out on the rocks.
For beautiful natural scenery, few beaches near Auckland can compete with Karakare Beach. Although it’s just a few kilometres south of Piha and fairly accessible by car, Karakare has a more remote and dramatic feel to it than other beaches in the area. Its stunning natural beauty has even featured as the backdrop of several popular films including The Piano.
Aside from enjoying its spectacular landscapes and wearing out your camera’s shutter, the area around the beach is also a popular outdoor recreation spot.
Be sure to carve out a little time on your visit to check out the nearby Karekare Falls, a short 10-minute walk from the main carpark.
Mission Bay Beach
If you don’t want stray too far from central Auckland, cross over Hobson Bay on the scenic Tamaki Drive to check out Mission Bay Beach.
Located in the town of the same name, Mission Bay Beach is one of Auckland’s most popular beaches and afternoon getaways. It’s only a 20-minute drive from central Auckland, but the suburb has a definitive laid-back resort town vibe that’s in complete contrast to the fast-paced Auckland city life.
On the water, there’s a whole whack of fun things to do including swimming, canoeing, and sea kayaking. One of the simplest pleasures of a visit here, however, is washing down fish and chips with a relaxing drink while soaking in views of Rangitoto Island over the Hauraki Gulf.
With its sweeping views north towards Waiheke Island and as far east as the Coromandel Peninsula, Maraetai Beach is the perfect spot to escape the buzz of the city. It’s particularly a popular beach for families thanks to its gentle waters, jeytty, playground, and seaside ice cream shops.
After enjoying this small but lovely stretch of golden sand, you can continue your visit with a 1-hour coastal walk to Magazine Bay or drive 10 minutes down to Duder Regional Park for a hike alongside some friendly sheep.
St Heliers Beach
Perched upon beautiful St Heliers Bay, St Heliers Beach is one of the finest beaches near Auckland. It’s located in the upscale eastern Auckland suburb of St Heliers, but that’s not to say you need to roll in the dough to enjoy a dip and the views here.
Besides the beach itself and fun water activities like kayaking and kitesurf, St Heliers is a great place to while away the day. There’s a handful of great cafés and restaurants in the area to indulge in a quick cup of coffee & dessert or something a little more substantial like an upscale French or Italian meal.
Like other Auckland west coast beaches, Bethells Beach showcases the wilder side of New Zealand North Island’s coast. While the beach itself is a hit, what’s truly amazing here are the marvels pitched around it.
Spending a day at Bethells Beach, you can enjoy an array of activities including surfing and hiking. Take time to wander along its sand dunes, hiking trails (including the Te Henga Walkway), and explore its cave to get the full experience of this rugged slice of nature.
Long Bay Beach
Located on the eastern coast of the North Shore, Long Bay Beach features a one kilometre stretch of sand set alongside the forested Long Bay Regional Park and connected to the 970-hectare Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve.
With its further-flung location compared to other Auckland North Shore beaches, Long Bay tends to be a little quieter than its southerly siblings. If you happen to catch a day that’s a tad more hectic though, you won’t have much trouble finding a more isolated beach within walking distance from the main one.
Point Chevalier Beach
With less than a 15-minute drive from Auckland CBD standing in your way, there’s hardly a better place to squeeze seaside fun into your Auckland vacation than Point Chevalier Beach.
Unlike other inner-city beaches in Auckland, Point Chevalier is perched upon a small peninsula in the harbour rather than along the the coast. The beach’s sheltered location leaves the waters calmer for swimming, especially at high tide.
Point Chevalier Beach is particularly a popular destination for families. Aside from its lovely golden sands, the beach features an excellent playground for kids including a climbing net and a flying fox.