The 25+ Best South Island Beaches

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  • 1. Torrent Bay // Abel Tasman

    Torrent Bay

    Set within the Abel Tasman National Park, Rākauroa / Torrent Bay consists of not one, but two sandy beaches. The main beach is a curving spit of sand which goes some way to separating a large lagoon from the sea. However, there is also a beach on the lagoon side of Torrent Bay.

    Torrent Bay is a lovely spot, backed by the lush, forested landscape of Abel Tasman. If it… read more »

  • 2. Koekohe Beach

    Koekohe Beach
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    The long sandy beach at Koekohe is famous for one thing - the Moeraki Boulders. These particularly large spherical boulders are technically known as septarian concretions. Some of the rocks measure nearly 3 metres across and most have a cracks in their surfaces making them appear like some sort of giant dinosaur eggs. The fact that they are hollow

    The traditional M?ori explanation for the rocks existence is even… read more »

  • 3. Awaroa Inlet // Abel Tasman

    Awaroa Inlet
    John M

    Located within the protected confines of the South Island's Abel Tasman National Park, Awaroa Beach curves magnificently around the mesmerising shallows of an atoll-like estuary. Meandering its way for 800 metres in length, it has been nicknamed "The People's Beach" since it was purchased by New Zealanders from a private owner after a crowdfunding campaign that received the support of some 40,000 people.

    A journey here is made all the more… read more »

  • 4. Allans Beach

    Allans Beach
    © Tomas Sobek / CC BY

    Allans Beach is set among the lush rolling hills of the on the Otago Peninsula, on New Zealand's South Island. It consists of a kilometre long spit of fine white sand which separates the shallow waters of Hoopers Inlet from the Pacific Ocean.

    The beach here is something of a haven for wildlife; at the northern end there is a small sea lion colony, whilst the other end is home… read more »

  • 5. Sandfly Beach

    Sandfly Beach
    © Andrea Schaffer / CC BY

    Sandfly Bay lies on the Otago Peninsula on New Zealand's South Island, not far from the city of Dunedin. This beautiful, wild beach is backed by high dunes.

    At the northern end of the beach is a bird watching hide constructed to watch the yellow-eyed penguins that are found in this area. The beach is also a good spot to see sea lions and fur seals.

    Curiously, the name of… read more »

  • 6. Onetahuti // Abel Tasman

    Andrea Schaffer

    Onetahuti Beach is a long, thin ribbon of white sand separating protected crystalline waters from thick woodland. Facing the stunning Tonga Island, Onetahuti Beach lies within its marine reserve, ensuring a plethora of life beneath the waves.

    There's no vehicular access to the beach, giving it an even more tranquil setting, but meaning visitors intent on reaching Onetahuti must do so either on foot or via boat. At the northern end… read more »

  • 7. Tautuku Beach

    Tautuku Beach
    © Pseudopanax
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Set on the Catlins coast in the southeastern corner of the South Island is Tautuku Beach. This rugged, remote area is a haven for wildlife known for its fur seals, sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins. If you are lucky you may even spot whales, which is no surprise as Tautuku was once home to a whaling station.

    Tautuku Bay itself is a generous sweep of golden sand and widely regarded… read more »

  • 8. Kaiteriteri Beach // Abel Tasman

    Kaiteriteri Beach
    Jonathan Reid
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    One of South Island's best beaches, Kaiteriteri Beach stuns even hardened travellers with its combination of orange-yellow sand, curving crescent shape, and surrounding tree-clad promontories.

    Just 15 minutes from Motueka, its usually extremely calm waters act as a gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, with boats, water taxis and even sea kayaking outfits all providing the means for visitors to explore this national treasure for themselves.

    As a result, Kaiteriteri has accommodation… read more »

  • 9. Scotts Beach

    Scotts Beach
    © Pseudopanax

    Scotts beach is a wonderful, wild beach on the West coast of the South Island. The nearest town is Karamea and the beach is one of the highlights of the Heaphy Track, a popular hiking trail along this rugged stretch of coast.

    The beach here is a beautiful sandy cove backed by steep, tall cliffs covered in dense subtropical rainforest of nikau palms, karaka and rata. Given its relatively remote… read more »

  • 10. Totaranui Beach // Abel Tasman

    Totaranui Beach
    © Krzysztof Golik / CC BY

    Located at the northern end of Abel Tasman National Park, Totaranui Beach seems to appear out of nowhere, its recess of rich golden sand set among sea (or more correctly, ocean) blues and dense native foliage. Indeed, the name Totaranui translates as "many trees".

    An ideal destination for hiking, kayaking, fishing, and swimming, this one kilometre stretch of paradise boasts a series of footpaths that wind their way through the best… read more »

  • 11. Tunnel Beach

    Tunnel Beach
    Jakub Šimáček

    Less than eight kilometres southwest of the centre of Dunedin, close to St Clair on New Zealand's South Island, Tunnel Beach is hidden from view by rugged sandstone cliffs rising 150 metres above the waves. Shaped by the might of the Pacific Ocean over millennia, the beach is studded with naturally-formed rock arches, caves, and a hand-hewn sloping tunnel that gives the beach both its name and its access… read more »

  • 12. Bark Bay // Abel Tasman

    Bark Bay
    Akos Kokai
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Sitting on the border of Tonga Beach Marine Reserve within Abel Tasman National Park, Bark Bay (also called Wairima) is known for the reliability of its weather, offering sunshine pretty much all year round.

    While that may be enough to lure sunseekers to this first-rate stretch of sand, others will be tempted by the large lagoon that offers the opportunity for safe swimming, or the chance to catch a glimpse… read more »

  • 13. Wharariki Beach

    Wharariki Beach
    life in still.
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  • 14. Ward Beach

    Ward Beach
    © Steve Attwood / CC BY
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  • 15. Dead Man Beach // Stewart Island

    Dead Man Beach
    © Kristina D.C. Hoeppner / CC BY
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