With over 125-kilometres of coastline, it’s no surprise that the Bay of Plenty is home to some of the best, and most pristine, beaches in New Zealand (and, some would argue, the world!). But don’t just take our word for it – check out some of the accolades our sandy shores have received and what makes them so special. It's sure to make you smile!
MOUNT MAUNGANUI'S MAIN BEACH
Consistently voted as New Zealand's best beach, Mount Maunganui Main Beach offers excellent surf, beachside cafés, and stretches of picturesque white sand.
But what makes the Main Beach so special? Lying at the foot of Mauao (Mount Maunganui), Main Beach is a beautiful wide expanse of white sandy beach with a gentle swell (perfect for swimming) and uninterrupted views towards the Pacific Ocean. Spending a day here feels like the quintessential Kiwi summer – beaches, boogie boarding, surfing, ice creams and lots of sand!
Access to the beach is easy, with plenty of parking all the way along (although we recommend walking or biking if you’re staying nearby or catch an Uber. As it’s the best beach in New Zealand, it can get busy during peak times). There are plenty of facilities next to the beach: showers, toilets, cafés, shopping and drinking water. You can easily spend a whole day here but remember to pack your sunscreen. If you’re visiting during Autumn or Spring, there’s still plenty to do. You can learn how to surf or stand-up paddleboard (SUP), go for a walk around the base track of Mauao, or take a good book, sit back and relax.
Let’s not forget the surfing – Mount Main Beach is a great destination for surfers of all levels. There’s no shortage of breaks and there’s often a good right point break off the tip of Moturiki (Leisure Island).
While you’re there, make sure you treat yourself to an ice cream from Copenhagen Cones. Their house-made waffle cones are a Mount tradition!
You can’t come all the way to the Bay of Plenty without visiting New Zealand’s ‘Most Loved Beach’ as voted by AA Traveller. Located a short 15-minute drive over the hill from Whakatāne, Ōhope Beach has 11-kilometres of stunning coastline lined with ancient Pōhutukawa, soft, white sand and a family-friendly swimming beach. On a clear day, you’ll have unparalleled views of Moutohorā (Whale Island) and Whakaari (White Island).
There is space for everyone at Ōhope Beach. You can spend an hour walking along the shoreline without seeing another soul - which is one of the reasons this beach is so loved by locals and visitors alike.
This is the perfect beach for families. There's plenty of space, safe swimming and it's close to shops and other amenities. If you're feeling active, there are plenty of short walks nearby, including the popular and super picturesque Otarawairere Bay, which is just a short 20-minute walk around the headland at low tide.
Fifteen minutes up the road from Mount Maunganui is the sprawling coastline of Papamoa Beach, voted the fourth best beach in New Zealand by TripAdvisor. This is a super relaxed beach; you’ll see loads of people out walking their dogs morning and night, but it never feels crowded. If you’re an early bird, we recommend getting up to watch the sunrise – the view out over the horizon is unforgettable (and totally Instagrammable!).
Papamoa is a thriving community and there are shops, bars, restaurants and other amenities just up the road from the beach. Accommodation is abundant – we recommend Tasman Holiday Parks - Papamoa Beach which is the only beachfront accommodation in Papamoa.
While you’re there, we recommend checking out The Island – one of the local craft beer breweries who are doing good things with beer! This is a great place for all the family with a playground (complete with a lifeboat taken from the Rena shipwreck which famously ran adrift off the coast of Papamoa in 2011), great food, and there’s often live music to enjoy.
Enjoy a classic New Zealand holiday beside the beach at this friendly coastal town. As well as countless water activities, there are plenty of great cafés, boutique shops and a selection of picturesque walking and cycle trails. Waihī Beach also offers the chance to learn to surf with the Waihī Beach surf school.
Waihī Beach is a 40-minute drive following the scenic coastline north from Tauranga. It’s worth doing the short 45-minute walk over the hill to Orokawa Bay – a beautifully secluded bay lined with Pōhutukawa trees. You'll feel like you’re a million miles away from civilisation.
PILOT BAY BEACH
For something a little calmer, try Pilot Bay, located on the harbour side of the Mount Maunganui peninsula. There is so much to love about this tranquil bay, from the calm waters perfect for swimming that make it a firm favourite for young families. The stunning sunsets are even better if you can catch a cruise ship leaving the port. The view is always spectacular and access is easy with plenty of parking on the road and bike racks.
Thanks to the mostly calm waters, Pilot Bay is ideal for water sports including SUPing, kayaking, and sailing. Take a blanket, grab some fish and chips (there’s a superb fish and chip shop at the port end of Pilot Bay) and sit back, relax, and take in the scenery.
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BAY OF PLENTY BEACH EXPERIENCES