Best beaches within an hour of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch

Summer is upon us and the hot weather means perfect beach weather for Kiwis across the country. 

New Zealand is spoiled for choice with plenty of exquisite beaches within an hour's drive of the major cities.

NIWA's summer outlook is predicting a warm but at times a wet festive period for most of New Zealand because of La Niña conditions. 

The agency is predicting above-average temperatures for most of New Zealand, with subtropical northeast winds likely to bring scorching days for inland and western areas.

So with New Zealand expected to see warm temperatures and sunny days during the festive month, many people will be flocking to the beach to enjoy the weather. 

Newshub has compiled the top beaches in New Zealand's biggest cities.


  • Karaka Bay 

This secret beach is not Auckland's most well-known and can be difficult to get to, but once you get there, it's worth the trek. You can access the beach via a steep track off Peacock St in Glendowie. 

Karaka Bay beach is full of New Zealand history - and it's where Governor William Hobson met with Auckland Māori Chiefs when he was collecting signatures for the Treaty of Waitangi.

The beach is a perfect spot for a picnic, while it's a great place for a walk along the cliffs. 

  • Sentinel Beach

This gorgeous tucked-away beach is perfect for anyone looking for a sandy spot, not overcrowded with people. 

The beach is accessible via a walkway from Sentinel Rd in Herne Bay and comes with magnificent views of the Auckland harbour and the Bridge.

It's a great place for a swim during New Zealand's summer season and also an excellent picnic spot to watch the sun go down and relax in the surroundings.

  • Minnehaha Beach a.k.a Thorne Bay 

Minnehaha Beach is a little beach tucked between Takapuna Beach and Milford and is only accessible on foot.

Getting there is a short walk across the rocks, and once you've arrived, you'll find a little cove with beautiful clear water and fantastic sand. 

It has incredible views of Rangitoto and the Hauraki Gulf - so can make a perfect photo opportunity. 


  • Oriental Parade beach:

Wellington's most iconic and well-known beach is Oriental Parade - where Kiwis and tourists will flock to this summer. 

Located in downtown Wellington in Oriental Parade, it's very handy for those who are making a day of it in the centre of the Capital. 

Oriental Parade is not your average beach though - as it's manmade, with the Wellington City Council in charge of keeping it up to date. 

Twice a year, the council relocates sand from Freyberg Beach to Oriental Bay, to maintain the size and shape of the beach. 

  • Scorching Bay 

Another one of Wellington's picturesque beaches is Scorching Bay beach - located in the Miramar Peninsula.

The beach has something for everyone - whether it be the large grass area where people can enjoy a picnic or the sandy stretch of beach on the foreshore for those who want to be closer to the water. 

It's also a wonderful spot to watch ferries travel in and out of Wellington Harbour, as well as yachts and parasailers closer to the shore.

Scorching Bay Beach, Wellington
Scorching Bay Beach, Wellington Photo credit: Google Maps
  • Makara Beach

Not the first beach that comes to mind when thinking about the Capital but Makara Beach is a great place for a walk and a popular fishing spot with the locals.

Located about 30 minutes drive from downtown Wellington, Makara Beach is a stony black sand beach that is a beautiful place to let off some steam. 

On a bad day, it can be unpleasant with the wind sweeping you off your feet but on a good one, it is beautiful. 

Makara Beach, Wellington.
Makara Beach, Wellington. Photo credit: Google Maps


  • Motunau Beach

Motunau Beach is located between Christchurch and Kaikoura, about an hour from Garden City. 

It's an exquisite spot to get away from the crowded, busy city of Christchurch and take in the views from the top of the cliff. 

The beach is a great spot for people who love surfing, seafood and fishing - with great blue cod, trumpeter and kingfish in summer.

  • Scarborough beach

One of the Garden Cities' more popular beaches is Summer and Scarborough - located about 30 minutes from downtown Christchurch. 

It's a great place for sunbathers looking to enjoy the sandy beach or go for a swim.

You can also wander to several cafes, restaurants and bars near the beach to cap off your day. 

Scarborough beach, Christchurch
Scarborough beach, Christchurch Photo credit: Google Maps
  • Woodend Beach

Woodend Beach, located at the south end of the domain at Waikuku, is another stunning spot locals and tourists will flood to this summer.

It's a family favourite with great swimming areas for kids while also having some great breaks for surfers. 

On top of all that, there are running and walking tracks and for animal lovers - you can also try horse riding on the beach.