Hitting the beach is number one on the classic kiwi holiday bucket list and in Auckland we are lucky to have a lot of beautiful beaches to choose from. From the secluded, windswept black sand beaches of the West Coast through to the golden sands and sometimes more urban beaches on the East Coast there is something for everyone.
Being surrounded by water, most Auckland beaches are within easy driving distance. Whether you are heading out to do a bit of fishing, surfing, swimming, sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding or just looking for a great coffee, the beaches of Auckland have it all.
Need a quick rundown of the best beaches North of Auckland for swimming, water activities and more? Take a look below for our top picks of beaches within an hour’s drive from Auckland.
Nestled over on the rugged west coast, Piha is one of New Zealand’s most famous beaches and when visiting it’s easy to see why. At just under an hour from Auckland, Piha has that world away from anywhere feel with the added bonus of good surf and an abundance of beautiful black sand.
Lifeguards are present during the summer months (see them in action on the local Piha Rescue TV show) and the impressive slopes of Lion Rock are the perfect place to take in the views and get some great pictures. Crossing the forest clad hills of the Waitakere Ranges, the road to Piha is narrow and windy, so drive carefully.
At just 40 minutes’ drive from Auckland, Muriwai Beach is the perfect place for a secluded sunny day at the beach. Surfing is popular with beach goers along with fishing, hiking and horse riding. Muriwai is a larger beach than Piha and less sheltered but sits along the same coastline.
You will see some of the locals down on the beach driving their 4WD’s as vehicle access is available to Muriwai Beach – but remember if you are driving a rental car you are not allowed to drive off-road.
Over on the East coast, Long Bay Beach is found in the midst of the picturesque Long Bay Regional Park. The beach itself is approximately 1 km in length and requires a short walk across the parklands from the carpark.
There are a number of onsite campgrounds and batches available for hire with the Long Bay Regional Park, see the Auckland City Council website for more info. Toilets and other facilities are also located throughout the park including a children’s playground. Long Bay Beach is a very popular spot as it is just 35 minutes from down town Auckland.
Shopaholics will love Browns Bay, with great opportunities for retail therapy set in a relaxing, seaside environment. At just 25 minutes from Auckland, this is an experience not to be missed when visiting the North Shore.
Browns Bay is home to not only a sunny stretch of sea and sand but also a great shopping destination. Browsing for clothes and stopping for coffees is even more enjoyable in a seaside location with subtropical planting in a relaxed atmosphere. Take a drive and see what all the fuss is about, but be prepared to have your wallet considerably lightened! A great day out blending cosmopolitan enjoyment with the great outdoors.
This beautiful beach area is one of the North Shore’s retail and lifestyle hubs. Alongside great cafes and food you’ll find swimming, sailing, and jet-skiing on offer all within 15 minutes of central Auckland. Takapuna Beach is a popular recreation area for locals, offering plenty of activities to enjoy on your holiday, whether you’re looking for action or relaxation.
Hit the white, sandy beach in summer and enjoy safe swimming, or try your hand at sailing, windsurfing or jet skiing. Take a stroll on the scenic beachfront walking track or spend a lazy afternoon searching for sea life in the rock pools. The Takapuna Beach area is the North Shore’s nightlife and retail hub, offering a huge variety of bars, restaurants, cafes and boutique shops.
Nestled at the southern end of the Waitakere Ranges, Whatipu Beach is just over an hour’s drive from Auckland. The drive out to Whatipu is a beautiful winding road through native forest and along the rugged coastline. You can even walk part of this route along the Whatipu Coast Track (signposted from the carpark).
This secluded beach offers good surf but is potentially unsafe for swimming. The beach sits at the entrance to the Manukau Harbour so is quite exposed. The Whatipu Caves are worth a look, you will find them as you head along the edge of the campground towards the cliffs.
Siting on the coastal edge of the Shakespear Regional Park out on the Gulf Harbour Peninsula, Shakespeare Beach is a pretty little beach well sheltered from the ever changing winds of the Hauraki Gulf.
Shakespeare Beach is about 50 minutes from central Auckland, heading North along Highway 1. It is a good little side trip when visiting nearby Orewa Beach.
Whether you want to catch some great breaks or just dip your toes in the water, Mairangi Bay Beach is a great place to visit on a warm summer’s day. Mairangi Beach is just 20 minutes from Auckland and sits in between Takapuna Beach and Browns Bay Beach.
Fun for the whole family, Mairangi Bay has a surf lifesaving club that makes it a good choice for swimmers – provided you swim between the flags and there’s also a great little cafe on the waterfront perfect for an ice cream on a hot day.
An urban style beach, Orewa is perfect for swimming and even has its own Surf Life Saving Club. There are good facilities including toilets, parking and nearby activities. There is plenty of accommodation nearby and the small township has a good array of places to dine including a good sized supermarket.
Orewa is approximately 30 minutes from downtown Auckland taking State Highway 1 to the North. The beach is situated on the East Coast and is the perfect destination for a day trip from Auckland.
Just 40 minutes drive from Auckland Bethells Beach is a great place to surf and enjoy the beach for the day; however, swimming is only advised in patrolled areas. The fairly exposed nature of Bethells Beach means it can be windy with rough seas and rips.
Be aware the beach is a 300 metre walk from the carpark, and it is a fairly short beach sandwiched between two rocky outcrops. There are several good walks in the area and a few accommodation options nearby.
Need transportation to make the most of the area? View our full range of affordable North Shore rental cars and explore the best of the North Shore at your own pace.
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