Best Beach 2024: Winners announced
You went, you swam, you voted … and now it’s time to announce the winners in our readers’ poll to find Aotearoa New Zealand’s Best Beaches for 2024.
During January, we asked you to nominate your 10 favourite spots around the motu in five categories: Family, Camping, Surf, City and Hidden Gem Beaches.
Voting ended last weekend and this week we’ve tallied thousands of votes to find the champions.
And while some hardy perennials have made the podium, you’ve thrown up more than a few surprises.
We’ve been running this poll for more than five years and for the first time a South Island beach has really taken on the northern big guns. In Olympic Games terms, picture-perfect Kaiteriteri in the Nelson-Tasman region took home a gold, a silver and a bronze.
Across the North Island, Ōhope remains the fans’ favourite, with a gold and two silvers.
And if we were naming an overall winner, it would have to be the Whakatāne juggernaut — but that’s not in the rules of our game, so we won’t.
It’s at this point that we’d usually say, “So, without further ado … ” but we can’t sign off without noting that this is Anniversary Weekend in the north of Te Ika-a-Māui, and remembering what took place exactly one year ago, and across the country in the following weeks. Many communities are back on their feet; many are still feeling the effects, the pain. Let’s hope that 2024 brings safer, happier times.
And the winners are …
BEST FAMILY BEACH 2024
WINNER: Ōhope. Steph O’Sullivan, Chief Executive Toihautū at Whakatāne District Council, says families have enjoyed holidays at Ōhope for generations, “so it’s no surprise that we’ve scooped Best Family Beach for three years running.
“There is so much to love about Ōhope — 11km of safe swimming, an excellent surf break at West End for learners and experts, Ōhiwa Harbour for sailing, kayaking and standup paddleboarding, and of course spectacular scenery with plenty of sunshine.
“The new hot spot — Wharfside — at Port Ōhope Wharf has also become a family drawcard. Parents sit and relax with a drink in hand and a bite to eat, while kids practise their manu off the wharf. Boating families also have their pick from myriad fishing spots and a water-ski lane on the harbour.
“Families who choose Ōhope for their holiday frequently tell us they’ll never go anywhere else. And with summer stretching into late autumn, we tick all the boxes for the ultimate Kiwi beach holiday.”
Second place: Kaiteriteri, the go-to holiday spot for generations, a long crescent of golden sand, turquoise water, safe swimming, gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, home to 60,000 over summer.
Third place: It takes more than a cyclone, floods and a tornado to keep Waihī Beach down. The community rallied to clean up and welcome thousands to summer holidays at the stunning 10km beach.
BEST CAMPING BEACH 2024
WINNER: Kaiteriteri. Why? Let’s hand the mic to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Yardley: “It is the postcard-perfect beach, glistening turquoise water, thickly forested headlands, gloriously golden sand and that classic crescent shape.
“Awakening to that fabled arc of golden sand, washed by the gentle waves of Kaiteriteri Beach is one of life’s great pleasures. Savouring the first crack of daybreak across the wide sweep of Tasman Bay is appointment viewing.
“Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve comprises 250ha of Crown land, with 100 per cent of the business profits being reinvested into the township’s amenities. The onsite dining is drool-worthy, whether you want to wrap your lips around some blockbuster buns or fish ’n’ chips from Gone Burgers or dine in style at Kai Restaurant.”
Second place: Ōhope, a popular summertime destination for Kiwi families. The holiday park is outstanding; beachside with a grassy campsite surrounded by pōhutukawa, cabins or upmarket options.
Third place: Hahei’s well set-up holiday resort is key to the beach’s popularity: pōhutukawa with rope swings, barbecues on the sand, 6.5ha of beachfront real estate to spread out and let kids roam wild.
BEST SURF BEACH 2024
WINNER: Whangamatā. Mayor Len Salt says he’s thrilled (but not surprised) that Whangamatā has been voted Best Surf Beach. “The beach is just one of the reasons Whangamatā is such a popular spot for visitors and we love that surf enthusiasts from all across the motu visit the Coromandel to catch the perfect wave and to enjoy all the other attractions that Whangamatā has to offer.
“This recognition only confirms what locals and visitors have known for years — Whangamatā offers an unbeatable surfing experience, including a top team at the Whangamatā Surf Lifesaving Club dedicated to keeping beachgoers safe through the summer period.
“As mayor, I’m proud of our community’s commitment to preserving the beach’s natural beauty, ensuring it remains a top destination for surfers. This is a well-deserved honour and we are extremely proud.”
Second place: While Raglan is Mecca for wave riders, Manu Bay is rightly famous for the world’s longest left-hand rides, up to 2km or 10 minutes, best for advanced to expert surfers.
Third place: Piha, birthplace of Malibu board riding in this country in 1956, has peaks off Camel Rock, Lion Rock and North Piha. Docile, suitable for all; when it’s big, leave it to the experts.
BEST CITY BEACH 2024
WINNER: Ōrewa. Gary Brown, who chairs Hibiscus and Bays Local Board has lived in Ōrewa for 53 years and seen a lot of changes over that time, points out that the town welcomes an enormous number of visitors — not only from the Auckland area, but also travelling tourists.
“Ōrewa beach certainly has become a top Auckland destination, not only for the 3km of beach but also the great variety of cafes and restaurants to enjoy afterwards.
“Ōrewa still has the beach town feel about it, which I believe people and families find very relaxing, yet it’s only 20 minutes from Auckland city.”
Deputy chair Julia Parfitt lists some of those attractions: “Just over the bridge, you are transported to a relaxed beach that offers so much compared to other city beaches.
“It has an iconic campground. It is a great place to learn to surf or swim with its own surf club. You can walk along the beach one way and return back along the many coastal shared pathways or swim safely back parallel to the beach.
“Ōrewa is a destination in its own right with great playgrounds, beach volleyball courts, cycle paths and public art and is located on the doorstep of the renowned Estuary Arts Centre and wonderful shops and eateries.”
But wait, there’ll be more: “2024 is going to see further enhancements at Ōrewa beach with the start of the new esplanade seawall and coastal walkway project linking Kinloch and Remembrance Reserves.
“Ōrewa simply has it all and is so deserving of New Zealand’s Best City Beach award,” she says.
Second place: Oriental Bay, in the middle of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, the waterfront parade lined with cafes, bars, apartments and hotels, close enough to the office to sneak out for a lunchtime sunbathe or swim.
Third place: Tahunanui’s 1.75km beach is safe, but Nelson’s jewel really shines with a giant playground behind its rolling dunes offering a mindboggling array of entertainment for all ages.
BEST HIDDEN GEM BEACH 2024
WINNER: Ōtarawairere. Thrilled about Ōhope, O’Sullivan is in two minds about Ōtarawairere winning Best Hidden Gem two years in a row. “We’d like to keep this special place just the way it is — a peaceful, secluded, paradise.
“Sitting between Whakatāne township and Ōhope Beach, Ōtarawairere has been likened to the scenery of Italy’s Cinque Terre.
“Quite different from Ōhope Beach, Ōtarawairere is sheltered by rocky shore at each end of the bay, with crystal-clear water fringed by a mass of ancient pōhutukawa. In between is a calm, sandy, swimming bay scattered with glistening, crushed seashells.
“Accessible by foot via the renowned Ngā Tapuwae o Toi Walkway, or by kayak, it’s well worth the effort and the perfect spot for a picnic and swim or exploring the rock pools.
“Otherwise, we suggest just sit back, enjoy the serenity and forget about the world for a while … but don’t tell anyone else!”
Second place: Cathedral Cove is one of the most Instagrammed and visited spots in Aotearoa: is it a “Hidden Gem”? The track and cove were severely damaged last year and the track is still closed; put it on the bucket-and-spade list.
Third place: Popular with southerners, not so much with northerners, Kaiteriteri’s turquoise waters, golden sandy beaches and year-round attractions on the doorstep of Abel Tasman National Park.
Article written by (By Ewan McDonald, www.nzherald.co.nz – Original article)