Long Bay Beach Auckland, New Zealand

Beach Experience in Auckland, New Zealand: Frenzy by the Sea

New Zealand is an island country located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. It has a highly developed tourism industry for its stunning natural environment and unique local customs. Beach experience is definitely one of the most popular reasons for travellers to visit this country. Talking about beaches, the city — Auckland, I currently live in, is rich in coastlines and beaches. The kiwis here are all crazy about outdoor sports. Of course, they won’t miss out on their beaches all around Auckland city and Auckland suburbs.

Since I live here for five years already, I would like to share my beach experience with those who want to come to Auckland for a short trip. This blog can help you to travel like a local and save your energy for the beach.

I will make each beach experience an introduction and travel guide for beaches I have gone to. These rankings are based on my own experiences and local environments. There are two non-beach spots, but they are close to the sea. So I still put them into my post. All the pictures here are all taken by me, and please do not use them for any purposes as I am just sharing my experiences.

No.10 & 9: Herne Bay Beach/Cremorne Reserve

The blogger coastline beach walking with seagulls
Me coastline beach walking with seagulls

Suburb Overview

Located on the southwest shore of the Waitemata Harbour, Herne Bay in Auckland is known for its lovely seaside views. It is a small but affluent town with Edwardian age homes. It only takes a few minutes to drive from Auckland CBD. The coastlines and bays sit at the end of residential areas. Beaches here are relatively less crowded since only locals would go. Local restaurants and shops are on Sentinel Road, which is between the Herne Bay beach and Cremorne reserve. If these are not enough, Herne Bay is also close to Ponsonby — another popular suburb with more businesses and cafes in central Auckland.

Reasons for beach experience ranking

  1. Location: Herne Bay beach and Cremorne Reserve are very close to each other, which is why I put them together for ranking. You can have a wonderful view of Waitemata Harbour from here. They are also very close to Ponsonby, a popular suburb with a lot of businesses and restaurants. I would suggest visitors have food around the Ponsonby food court before they go to Herne Bay beach. Herne Bay area is more like a residential area, so it doesn’t have many businesses as Ponsonby does.
  2. Environment: Good. Too good for humans to step into it. I don’t recommend going near the reserve as it is well protected already. Let the seagulls and mosquitoes live there peacefully. But the Herne Bay beach is fine to play around. The water quality is usually qualified for people to swim. Local households are friendly and quiet.
  3. Accessibility: It takes a 5-10 minutes drive depending on traffic to go to Herne Bay from the city centre. Easy access if you don’t have your own transport. A lot of buses such as InnerLink and OuterLink travel pass this area. An average bus journey takes 23 minutes from central Auckland. A good choice for central Auckland beaches.

My Beach Experience

I went to Herne Bay on a weekday afternoon with my boyfriend. That was a budget and casual date, so I suggested him driving to the nearest beach. We found one open area where the ocean is only one step away. But the reserve didn’t look like a proper place for walking. It looked so wild, as you can see in my photo. The number of seagulls was countless. Seagulls could be aggressive sometimes, and when you have food in your hands, they won’t walk away. It was quite funny that we tried to hide our food from seagulls.

Overall, I put both of them to 10th/9th because the beach and the reserve are very close to each other. My experience was somewhat limited because of time. Also, there were serval rubbish bins full of wastes alongside the road to the reserve. I didn’t have a great impression. There are some benches beside the reserve for visitors to rest on it, which is very thoughtful. For those who have limited time and want to explore the central Auckland area, Herne Bay Beach is a decent choice.

No.8: Eastern Beach

A red full moon above the ocean
A red full moon above the ocean

Suburb Overview

Eastern Beach suburd is in the Howick ward, one of thirteen administrative divisions of Auckland City. Visitors mainly come from neighbouring suburbs for its white-sand palm fringed beach. The water there are clean and safe for people to swim. The best timing to visit here is in summer, where you can play with the shallow waters and enjoy the sunshine.

 Reasons for beach experience ranking

  1. Location: Eastern Beach is at east Auckland near Howick. It is also close to the botany town centre. There is a footpath between Rogers Park and MacLeans Park. Also, a kids playground is in the middle of the path.
  2. Environment: Good. The nearest restaurant is Tanpopo (491 Pakuranga Road, Pakuranga Heights, Auckland 2010), a Japanese ramen place. Although we don’t have a Chinatown here in Auckland, locals acknowledge that east Auckland has the largest Chinese or Asian fusions. Meadowlands and the Botany Town Centre have a lot of choices of food too. The beach is clean and the water quality of that area is above average. It is safe if you want to go swimming.
  3. Accessibility: About 20-40 mins drive from central Auckland depending on traffic. It is better to have own transport than taking a bus. The bus journey to east Auckland is very long (bus number 70 departure from city centre, average time 1 hour) and tiring. You need at least twice bus transfers as well. Street parking is available.

My Beach Experience

I went there only once on a freezing winter night with my friends. We finished dinner and drove there. We walked along the beach, and the view was great, especially with a red full moon high in the sky. That was stunning because the moonlight made the water look red too. My photo is kinda blurred but the area is open and clear. If the weather is fine, I am sure you can see through the buildings on the other side of the coastline. The sand and water quality were good but we didn’t go near the water because it is dangerous when it’s dark.

The facilities at the beach are enough for people to stay for 3 hours. There is a public toilet for visitors to wash their feet or change clothes. It is ok to go there at night. I spotted many lights and no many people out there when it’s late. This area is bigger than Herne Bay, and it has more places (footpath, two parks) to visit, so I recommend going to Eastern Beach when you have abundant time.

I put it in 8th place because it is relatively far from central Auckland. The traffic can be bad sometimes, even on the weekends when you are driving to the east. It is somewhat inconvenient if you don’t have your own transport.

No.7/6: Silo Park/Wynyard Quarter Playground

A lots of lovers lock on Wynyard wharf bridge
A lots of lovers lock on Wynyard wharf bridge

Suburb Overview

It is not a beach but still worth going to. Wynyard Quarter is a suburb on the west of Auckland CBD. It is undergoing a 25-year urbanization transform, you can see many construction sites when you wandering around the suburb. The city council is promoting this area at the moment. It was first used for industrial purposes but after years of reclaiming the land, Auckland Regional Council started to develop its business and tourism potentials. Wynyard Quarter is definitely a good place to go for a CBD sightseeing tour.

Reasons for beach experience ranking

Reminder: Wynyard Quarter is not a beach! But still, there are a lot of things you can do related to the sea.

  1. Location: I would say it is a perfect location. It’s only 20 minutes walking from Auckland CBD. Also, it is close to Freeman’s Bay — one of my favourite suburb around CBD. Everything is in reach, including the victoria park market (an old market of crafts). My favourite Korean restaurant, Hansik, is there too. It’s a bit pricey, but the food quality definitely worth it.
  2. Environment: Medium good. Because this suburb is still under development that construction sites are common. The Wynyard Wharf is still in use, so it is expected to have some noises. But those are just minor defects compared to the great harbour view and exciting free public activities for you to participate in.
  3. Accessibility: Effortless access as it is so close to the CBD. If you use the lime scooters it only takes nine minutes to go there from the CBD. I don’t recommend driving because many public transportations stop there. It is hard to find parking in the city.

My beach experience

I have been here too many times that I barely remember what I did last time. As I mentioned above, many public events take place regularly. For example, in the summer there is a programme in Silo Park where you can enjoy movies and food with the community. Notably, most of the events only take place in summer. You can go to the Silo park website and check what do they offer. Normally, if you go to Silo Park for public events, you are expecting a huge gathering of people. But unfortunately, the COVID-19 brought huge disruption in 2020. No events were held in summer 2020.Hopefully we can have the events back soon in the future.

Except for Silo Park, you can also visit the Wynyard playground. It locates just in front of Silo Park, so I rank them together as they are both landmarks in Wynyard Quarter. The maritime-themed playground is kid-friendly. There are also some free kids workshops by the wharf.

In a word, it is worth going by yourself or with your crews. Either to join an event or just simply have a walk inside it would be a great experience. You can watch fishing ships unload fresh seafood to the wharf, and then go straight to a restaurant beside the wharf to eat seafood. I rate them on 6th and 7th place becuase what you can do there is dependent on weather. If the weather is not good, most events will be canceled.

No.5: Mission Bay Beach

The great view of Rangitoto island from Mission Bay Beach
The great view of Rangitoto island from Mission Bay Beach

Suburb Overview

Mission Bay is also a seaside suburb in Auckland. The Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium locates here too. You can see the Rangitoto island and Waitemata Harbour from the beach (you can see the island from my photo) no matter the weather is good or not. This suburb is also known for its expensive land price. It is a wealthy suburb with a wide range of eateries and stylish modern homes. Other than that, Mission Bay also holds strategic importance of defending because you can see the entrance of Waitemata Harbour.

Reasons for beach experience ranking

  1. Location: Good location. When you drive there, you will be driving through Tamaki Drive, which is a coastal road with stunning sea views.
  2. Environment: Just so so. Although the water quality says this area is usually suitable for swimming, I wouldn’t go near the water. Because I have seen too many dead seaweeds floating above the water, and I am a person of cleanliness. Personally not recommended. Also, because too many people come here, the beach is somewhat dirty. We dug up some trash when we tried to bury our friend under the sand.
  3. Accessibility: About 20 minutes driving or 30 minutes by bus from the city centre. No need for a bus transfer if you take tmk bus. Overall, it is easy to access.

My beach experience

Last time I went there with my friends. It was a sunny day. But still, it burned so bad. You will regret it if you don’t bring an umbrella and you didn’t apply enough sunscreen before you left home. There is no cover or shades on the beach. The trees grow near the street side, not the beachside. Many people were playing beach volleyball by the trees because there were shades. There is a public volleyball net hanger, and you just need to bring your own volleyball if you want to play. There are lots of bars, cafes and shops opposite the beach. We went to an ice cream shop that day when we were heading home. The shop’s name is Movenpick. It sells quality swiss ice cream.

As I mentioned above, I don’t like the water there. The beach is sandy, and it hurts while walking barefoot. There is a large passenger flow every day, so the beach is not that clean. I suggest bringing some rubbish bags because the rubbish bins there are usually full.

I put it on 5th place because of its location and accessibility. It would be nice if you take a walk along the beach. With a busy street on the opposite, the beach is more like a hideaway for people to take a break from modern life.

No.4: Queen’s Wharf

A busy place for fishing lovers to fish
A busy place for fishing lovers to fish

Suburb Overview

Queen’s Wharf is at the end of Queen Street, the busiest main street in Auckland CBD. There is also a bus/train terminal and a ferry terminal, making this place always crowded. You can see lots of old traces of the railway tracks as the wharf was once a busy pier in history. Auckland council obtained the land and turned it into a large event centre 11 years ago. Standing at the Queen’s Wharf, you can have an uninterrupted view of Waitemata Harbour. There are also thousands of sailboats and yachts anchored beside the wharf, bringing the nickname of Auckland — City of Sails.

Reasons for beach experience ranking

Reminder: Queen’s Wharf is not a beach.

  1. Location: Perfect location at Auckland CBD with everything in reach. Literally walking distance from the main street.
  2. Environment: Medium good. It is near the harbour, so the place is somewhat noisy. It could be windy and a little bit chilling, too, as the wharf faces the sea directly. Notably, the Hilton Auckland is here too. You can expect great views here. It is not crowded but the public seats can be full sometimes.
  3. Accessibility: The Britomart bus/train terminal is 5 minutes walk away.

My beach experience

Queen’s Wharf is also like a hideaway from the city where I can think of nothing and enjoy the sound of the waves before I went back to my homestay. Usually, many people are fishing on the edge of the wharf. At first, I thought they were wasting their time as fishing is a good time-killing activity. Then one day, I was with my mate in the public area watching people fishing. A man who looked like in his sixties actually caught a bucket of fish. It was funny because I saw his fishing rod bouncing as the fish got hooked.

This place is on the 4th: perfect location, good environment, and the easiest access. I adore any places that are like hideaways from modern life. Staying at Queen’s Wharf can give me a moment of peace. There are many public wooden deck chairs for people to relax. My favourite juice bar, Tank, is of 2 minutes walk at the entrance of the wharf. It would be so good to lie down on the chair and take a sip from the fruity smoothie.

No.3: Takapuna Beach

A friendly  border collie I met on Takapuna Beach
A friendly border collie I met on Takapuna Beach

Suburb Overview

Takapuna is a popular tourism destination at Auckland North Shore. “Takapuna” is a Maori word: taka means “assembly”, and puna means “spring”. There is a story behind the name, “The gathering of people who drank at the spring were Tainui men claiming possession of the land”. Lake Pupuke is at Takapuna as well. It is a heart-shaped freshwater lake formed by two volcanic craters.

Reasons for beach experience ranking

  1. Location: North Shore. It is only 9km from Auckland city.
  2. Environment: Central Takapuna has everything you need. Refuelling, shopping, chilling…also a lot of designer’s shops locates there. There is a food court near the beach. I like the restaurant named El Humero; they sell quality bbq meals at a reasonable price. Takapuna beach should be a must if you visit Auckland.
  3. Accessibility: 10 minutes drive from Auckland CBD depending on traffic. The Harbour Bridge can be extremely congested at the peak time. It is also safe to take a bus from the city to there, but at least one bus transfer is required. You can take NorthExpress (NX1 or NX2).

My beach experience

Takapuna beach is a popular tourism destination in Auckland. Whenever you go to the beach, you can see lots of peoplethere. This beach is also pet friendly, so be careful where you step on — there might be hidden dog poop under the sand. It will be very crowded near the shades as people all camping there for the whole afternoon. Rangitoto island is also viewable from takapuna beach.

Last time I went there for a friend’s birthday party. We camped there for a whole day. The beach is soft enough for people to play sports on it. I saw two girls playing beach volleyball with a border collie, but they didn’t seem like owners of the dog. It looked so fun to play with a dog on the beach. Later, the girls left and the collie ran to a family. So I went to them and asked if I can play with their dog. The family agreed. I played with the collie, it seemed like having unlimited energy. That was amazing.

Takapuna beach is in 3rd place. The water quality is mostly safe for swimming. The surroundings have everything you need which is very convenient. However, if you don’t like dogs, you need to pay extra attention because lots of dogs there are chain free. I have seen golden retrievers, huskies and collies. They are all large dogs so sometimes you better avoid them when they are excited.

No.2: Long Bay Beach

Smooth, soft and clean Long Bay Beach
Smooth, soft and clean Long Bay Beach

Suburb Overview

Long Bay beach is at Long Bay Regional Park. Since it is a regional park, no pets (except for registered aid dogs) is allowed in the park. Also, alcohol and smoking are prohibited too. The park is a seaside reserve with a kilometre-long sandy beach. Several experience programmes for educational purposes are available here for school kids.

Reasons for beach experience ranking

  1. Location: Also North Shore. But Long Bay beach is further north than Takapuna beach. The regional park is surrounded by green hillsides. It is away from the noisy and busy city.
  2. Environment: Very good. It lives up to the name of a regional park. Fresh air, clean water, smooth sand. There is also a landmark — one of the 16 golden picture frames set by the government for its great sea view. However, this regional park is somewhat distant from local business centres. B.Y.O is recommended but you need to clean up the rubbish before you leave.
  3. Accessibility: It takes about 30 minutes to drive from the city centre. There is also a regular bus service to Long Bay beach.

My beach experience

The park is definitely suitable for all ages. There is a large kid playground with lots of climbing trees and swing sets. What makes it so popular for long weekends is the public picnic service. You can book a picnic site or contact a ranger before you use it. The stoves are either gas-fired or wood-fired, so you need to bring your own fuel if you want a nice barbecue by the beach. All the sites are free to use unless you have a group of more than 100 people. Check out the bookable list at Long Bay Regional Park for more information. Otherwise, it is a worry-free choice for small or medium gatherings to come to Long Bay Regional Park. It is also possible to hold a wedding at Long Bay beach, but you need to apply for permission beforehand.

Last time I went there for a birthday barbecue with my friends. We took photos at the golden picture frame. Since the weather was nice, many families were having picnic in the park as well. I somehow attracted a little girl’s attention, so after her parents gave me consent, I took her to the beach to have a nice chatty walk.

This place is definitely worth a 2nd place on my list. Not only because it has more nature features than other civilized beaches, but also for it is well combined wtih local culture that kiwis love to spend weekends with families outdoor. Also, the sand on Long Bay beach is the smoothest sand I have ever seen. You literally feel like you stepping onto a giant soft soggy sponge.

No.1: Hot Water Beach

One peaceful moment me and boyfriend before we started to dig up hot water on the beach
One peaceful moment of me and boyfriend before we started to dig up hot water on the beach

Suburb Overview

Hot water beach is at Coromandel. Coromandel is a coastal town with stunning natural views and a more relaxed countryside lifestyle. It is known for the mining history: railways, rusty mining tools, swingbridges and tunnels. The town was once a major port for gold mining and kauri industries. Nowadays, Coromandel becomes another attractive tourism destination.

Reasons for beach experience ranking

  1. Location: The beach is on the east coast of Coromandel. Very far away from towns and cities. It is a rural area where you can embrace nature.
  2. Environment: Excellent environment. Fresh air, nice beaches, a few friendly locals… The chilling countryside lifestyle and well-protected nature together create a relaxing holiday vibe. Hot water beach is huge, but it gets crowded around low tide time.
  3. Accessibility: It roughly took us 3 to 4 hours to drive from Auckland city with my friends last summer. You can also choose the ferry route departures from Auckland city centre, and it takes 2 hours as the website says.

My beach experience

The most exciting thing to do on Hot water beach would definitely be digging up underground hot springs and DIY your own SPA pool (for free!). There is a landmark off-shore stone in the water. You need to walk past the stone and go to the left part of the beach. We met a local gentleman at the beach who advised us of some good locations to dig our water pool. As he said (which was proved to be correct later when we dug the pool), only part of the beach has underground thermal springs. The best timing to start digging is around low tide, approximately 2 hours on either side of low tide. If you start too early or too late, the hot water will be under the cold seawater. Also, it could be dangerous to stay at the beach when it’s high tide.

We dug the pool with the help of two other travellers. We made a huge one for lots of people who couldn’t find hot springs. The water is as hot as 64-65 °C. You can bring your own spade and bucket, or you can hire the spade from nearby surf shops of 25 NZD each. I would recommend bringing your own food to the beach because the beach is too far away from everything. Refuelling is troublesome. The food nearby is mostly fast food and is very expensive. Food quality doesn’t worth the money either.

It would be enough to stay here for 2 nights if you only want to visit the beach. My travel plan last summer was 3 days 2 nights stay. You can find lots of good accommodations through bookings or holidayhomes, no airbnb because they charge extra service fees. Make sure to do grocery shopping that lasts for your stay because your accommodation might be very far away from the local supermarkets.

Hot water beach is my 1st place on the list for its underground hot springs. This experience will be a lifetime one for me. We dug up the pool for 3 hours, and the outcome surely worth our efforts. However, it is not recommended to swim in the sea. You can only swim between the flags if the Hot Water Beach Surf Life Saving crews are on the portal. Otherwise, be extremely careful about the strong waves and currents. There are also lots of rips and stones under the water.

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