"What was the most breathtaking place you’ve been to in New Zealand so far?" This question had me and Alex baffled. I mean, we hardly saw 1/10 of all the fascinating NZ landscapes, but struggled to choose the only one already. But I was never afraid of challenges, so today I’m pushing myself to choose the most spectacular beaches in New Zealand, that we were lucky to soak up the magic of.
5. Whakatane Heads
Dead end of The Strand in Whakatane is definitely a place to see. Along the way to the car park you see Whakatane river on the left and an emerald-green cosy hill with architecturally perfect houses, reflecting the sunlight with their panoramic windows, on the right. The picture so perfect it almost dazzles you. One of the benefits of this beach is its convenience for tourists – the car park is located right behind the beach, so you can literally enjoy the views of the powerful rocks battling the strong currents of the river through the windshield. By the way, the shape of these rocks gave the beach its name! For a different angle we also followed the famous Kohi Point walkway – a 7 km track from Whakatane city centre to Ohope beach. The walkway snakes along the beach line, only now you are observing the Heads from the massive sheer cliffs.
4. Mount Maunganui Beach
I almost feel guilty placing our lovely beach that low in my own top. But people tend to underestimate the places they see every day, don’t they? It’s so easy to get used to the views you see every day. That is probably what happened to me. But I still remember the delight of our first trips to Mount Maunganui beach a year ago. And I definitely still admire this little slice of haven a lot. Every time I’m at The Mount, I feel pampered and extremely grateful for being here. The Mount Beach is completely different from any other beaches we have seen in New Zealand. Significant part of all those beaches is wild and preserves the atmosphere of New Zealand before people’s arrival. But The Mount is all about the joy of living by the beach, outdoor cafes and sunset walks with your dog. It is bursting with emotions, sounds and events. And Gosh, can anything be better than being a part of this happy beachy community?
3. Anawhata Beach
Anawhata Beach is hiding in the shadow of the nearby famous Piha beach. It sits just 10 km away from Piha road and yet another half an hour of fairly challenging walk down the hill. For the reasons I will probably never get, people often skip this place and drive directly to the easily accessible (and thus often overcrowded) Piha. I am happy, we didn’t. Anawhata Beach is one of the marvellous black-sand beaches on the west from Auckland. As soon as you get out of your car at the car park, you are relocated somewhere in the middle of a Jurassic Park or any other adventure (and less dangerous) movie. And the narrow path down the hill, where you have to hold on to a giant roots and squeeze under the fallen trees to move further, adds to this feeling. The nature of Anawhata Beach is not something you expect to see after only a 40 minutes drive from New Zealand’s largest city. It would fit better into an uninhabited remote islands somewhere in Asia: black rubbery sand, severe wind, giant rocks and, of course, a waterfall in a short distance.
2. Cape Kidnappers
Long walk (or a fun tractors ride) along the beach to Cape Kidnappers is breathtaking. This beach is located at the bottom of the craggy cliffs. The necessity to look up every time you try to see the rest of Hawke’s Bay (mission impossible, as all the rocks are towering at least 20 meters up) adds to the surrealistic feel of the trip. Though the beach itself is wonderful, the best part of it is definitely Cape Kidnappers. Unique rock formation rising from the water right across the cliff is a dream come true for every nature lover. I mean, there is always something special about those mysterious rocks sticking out above the powerful ocean waves, nearly every beach in this top boasts this landscape. But Cape Kidnappers surpasses any of them. Its strange shape, its smooth surface, its solitude – everything is different. Your head is spinning when you’re looking at it from the top of the hill, because being here is like being on the edge of the ground.
1. Cathedral Cove
One of Coromandel’s best known sights is a scenic award you receive after a good workout. Only getting to Cathedral Cove takes three times as long as to Anawhata Beach. But this walkway is an easy one and will hardly be challenging even for kids. Along the way you will find several scenic lookouts with comfy benches to enjoy the views, but don’t spend too much time on the walkway itself, as the final point is worth getting there as soon as possible. I quite understand why Cathedral Cove was chosen as a place to film Narnia. There is something magical in being on a small beach, surrounded by rocks and water. It’s like an oasis, hidden from the outside world. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover, that not everyone is allowed at the beach, something like a 9 3/4 platform in Harry Potter – you’re either a magician or will never know it’s there. But Cathedral Cove is there and, luckily, open for everyone.