Time to pack your paddle-boards, slip on your wetsuits, and get into adventure mode. I have been travelling the globe searching for the best beaches where you can SUP. My first stop is the far flung, twin islands of New Zealand. This one promises to be a great ride.
Quaint & Exotic
There are beaches and then there are beaches that you encounter in New Zealand. They have an ‘untouched’ quality about them. You can actually feel the energizing force of the elements. When you dip into the expansive natural beauty of these beaches, the world seems like a far, faint echo.
New Zealand is blessed with an astonishing topography and bio diversity. As a result, no two beaches are the same. The North and South islands have breath taking spots where you will want to glide endlessly for hours.
The 5 Best SUP Beaches
Here are my 5 favorite beaches in New Zealand:
Quick trivia: Piha is considered to be New Zealand’s most popular destination for water sports, especially surfing and SUP. The allure of this beach lies in the fact that it is just a drive down from Auckland. Having said that, it is not a touristy kind of beach. The ruggedness of the shore, capped by cliffs, bestows a windswept and moody nature to Piha. The crashing waves and the perennial mist combine to make you feel one with the ocean.
Getting There: The fact that you can get to the beach in half an hour from Auckland’s city centre tells you just how amazing and surreal New Zealand is. It is a 40-km drive down winding roads framed with lush greenery. There are convenient signposts located to guide you to Piha.
Other Things To Do: Once you’re done with your paddle-boarding, you can chill out at the café located near the beach. There are also twisting pathways that will take you through undiscovered corners of Piha: ideal for a trek.
Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson
Now this is more like it. Nelson receives the maximum sunshine in the entire country. Kaiteriteri is the sun-kissed beach that we all love, but imbued with a sense of quiet mystery. The beach is blessed with an idyllic aura that works wonders with stress levels. Spend a few minutes on the golden sand, and you will feel relaxed and rejuvenated. The waters are just as enticing as the sandy shore. You will feel you’re gliding across a blue mirror: clear and transparent.
Getting There: Nelson is located at the very tip of the South Island. You will need to fly there, or catch a ferry ride from the North Island. Once you reach the town, Kaiteriteri is just a short drive away.
Other Things To Do: Considered the best beach of the South Island, you can indulge in some excellent seafood, hike, and swim. You should have your camera ready to go as penguins, dolphins, and seals are commonly sighted.
Ocean Beach, Mount Maunganui
The name gives away one of the most compelling aspects of Ocean Beach. It is both a typical beach as well as a sheltered harbour beach, called Pilot Bay. This one stands in contrast to the others in the list with a busy harbour overlooking the sunny paradise. One of the most popular tourist destinations, Ocean Beach offers crystal clear waters for SUP, surfing, and just about any water sport you can imagine. If you feel like lazing around, drop down on the soft sand and take in the glorious sunshine.
Getting There: Mount Maunganui is located in the Bay Of Plenty region and close to the city of Tauranga in the North Island. The city can be reached by air. Once in Tauranga, you can either catch a bus or drive down in a rental car to the beach.
Other Things To Do: Since the beach is located close to the harbor, you can indulge in a variety of activities: Shop, play golf, check out the various cafés and delis. You can also go for a hike around the scenic mountain.
Tauranga Bay, Westport
This is one of the hidden gems of New Zealand, something you will not find in your regular tourist guides. Westport was once a famous mining town. Today, a select few are privy to the eye catching Tauranga Bay where you can indulge in surfing and SUP. The beautiful beach provides a sheltered experience from the rough winds and waves of Cape Foulwind.
Getting There: Located in the South Island, Westport can be reached by air, or by road, if you’re travelling down the island. Tauranga Bay is 15km south of the city and can be reached with an easy drive.
Other Things To Do: Fancy walking to a colony of seals? You can do that at Tauranga Bay. There is a guided path that will take you right up to the seal colony.
Mission Bay, Auckland
We started from Auckland and we end there. Mission Bay is one of the most ‘city beach’ experiences you will find in New Zealand. The plus side is that the waters are calm and relaxed, and the long, sandy shore offers a great spot for leisure and picnicking. You can take the entire family there and have fun. This is one of the best spots for SUP in the country.
Getting There: The Bay is a short drive from the city centre. Best to go with a group of people.
Other Things To Do: The promenade located on the bay is a hotbed for cafés and other dining options. You can even catch a movie at the nearby multiplex. Or you could just stay on the beach and indulge in a game of Frisbee.