New Zealands Best Beaches: Northland


With a sub-tropical climate, kilometres of white sandy beaches and crystal clear-waters at every turn, Northland, at the top of New Zealand’s North Island, is the proud home of some of New Zealand's best beaches.

New Zealand's Best Beaches in Northland

Northlands Wonderful Subtropical Beaches

As you drive around this vast water-filled playground it’s hard not to find a pristine slice of paradise calling for you to throw off your shoes and wade in its waters or grab a kayak, boat, fishing rod or snorkel and get out and explore – the possibilities in Northland really are endless. Below is a handy guide to some of Northland’s most exceptional beaches.

Location Map

Map of Northlands Beaches

Tapeka Beach – Russell, Bay of Islands

Located in the historic Bay of Islands settlement town of Russell, Tapeka Beach is one of the best-kept secrets of this Northland marine playground. Tapeka Beach is a safe; all-tide swimming spot devoid of pebbles that are characteristic of some of Russell’s other bays. Soft white sand stretches along this beach and shade can be found beneath the towering Norfolk Pine trees lining Tapeka reserve. Tapeka Beach also offers a ski lane and diving pontoon, and is the perfect place to try kayaking or paddle boarding. If you’re really lucky you might catch sight of Orca whales or a pod of dolphins known to frequent the area. The Tapeka Point Walk starts from the beach and takes around 15 minutes to reach the top of the point, on the walk you will pass a historic Maori Pa site and be rewarded with expansive views of Paihia, Waitangi and the surrounding islands. The beach is also home to a boat ramp, so if you’ve hired a boat or charter, you can get out and explore more of the unique and secluded bays in this divine area of Northland.

Top Tip: This west-facing beach offers views of one of New Zealand’s most glorious sunsets.

Bay near Russell

Matapouri Bay – Tutukaka Coast

Northland’s Tutukaka Coast is famed for its plethora of stunning beaches and Matapouri Bay, a ten-minute drive from Tutukaka, northeast of the Northland city of Whangarei, is a slice of New Zealand paradise. The coastal part of this horseshoe-shaped bay boasts stretches of immaculate white sand and lucent blue waters and, when the tide is low, turquoise-hued ‘Mermaid Pools’ appear in the rocky outlets and are perfect for a relaxing swim. Matapouri Bay is popular with families and has a safe swimming estuary where locals can be seen performing uniquely New Zealand ‘bombs’ jumping off the bridge at high tide. Matapouri Township itself is a popular holiday destination, with plenty of beachfront accommodation options and a small selection of shops.

Top Tip: A pair of decent walking shoes is a must if you are keen on paying a visit to the ‘Mermaid Pools.’

Matapouri Bay

Whale Bay - Tutukaka Coast

While Matapouri Bay is a popular spot, its nearby neighbour Whale Bay, takes a little more effort to reach, but once there this secluded bay is like heaven on earth. Whale Bay is accessible via a short walk through lush ancient native New Zealand trees like the evergreen Puriri and the iconic Kowhai that plays host to stunning yellow blooms. With its untouched white sand and calm inviting waters, the sheltered Whale Bay is undoubtedly one New Zealand’s best beaches, and one of Northland’s best-kept secrets. Whale Bay offers the perfect place to relaxing beneath one of the Pohutukawa trees that frame the often-empty beach or grab a snorkel and check out the rich underwater sea life that flourishes in its waters.

Top Tip: Whatever you do don’t forget your camera on your way to Whale Bay – this beach is so spectacular you’ll want to remember it forever.

Typical Northland Beach

Mangawhai Heads – Mangawhai

Known as ‘Magical Mangawhai’ for reasons that become apparent once you drive into the heart of this small artisan Northland town, local beach Mangawhai Heads, is a surfer’s paradise that features some the east coasts’ best waves and breaks. This easily accessible beach is a perfect swimming spot for those who enjoy the thrill of the surf - with lifeguards on patrol during the summer months. If you want to try your hand at surfing, no problem, lessons can be easily arranged with the Mangawhai Heads Surf School. Paddle boarding and kayaking is also a popular activity at the nearby estuary, while the waters off Mangawhai offer some of the best sea-fishing and world class diving experiences in New Zealand.

Top Tip: In the summer, treat yourself to a fresh strawberry ice cream, made from real strawberries, from the small ice cream stall located on the grassy verge at the top of the beach.

Looking to explore some of New Zealand’s best beaches without the hassle? Check out some of Self Drive Itineraries  to guide you in the right direction to find the perfect fit for your epic New Zealand adventure.

Would you like to add a Northland beach to your dream New Zealand holiday? To receive a free, no obligation, personalised itinerary - just follow the link and answer a few brief questions   


Brent Narbey
Brent Narbey
: 20 Oct 2014 (Last updated: 23 Feb 2022)

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