Some might say we've saved the best till last. That might include Britain's Observer, which named this taonga among the world's top 20 deserted beaches in 2006. Lonely Planet and National Geographic have been similarly enthralled.

It might include the thousands who have protested and campaigned against several attempts to develop it, including Phil Keoghan, New Zealand-born host of the US TV series The Amazing Race, who owns a bach nearby and regular spends summers here.

But now that we've reached the final profile of our shortlist for New Zealand's Best Beach, the Great New Zealand Public will decide whether New Chum Beach (Wainuiototo), on the northeast coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, lives up to its world ranking.

(Yes, we know that some folk call it New Chums, but we've decided that the Thames-Coromandel District Council knows best. After all, it's in their parish and they've had to deal with quite a lot of correspondence about the place over the past decade.)

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Some nit-pickers might disqualify New Chum from our poll because it doesn't have an ice cream shop. Others might say that's its charm, including Karin Bryan, one of the expert judges who compiled the shortlist.

"That's what New Zealand is to me — these places you have to be a bit of a bushman or a bushwoman to get to," Waikato University coastal researcher Bryan said.

It does some effort to get to New Chum Beach. You can't drive; you can reach it by boat, but most visitors walk off the beaten track.

From Coromandel, follow Whanapoua Rd for about 15km east to the northern end of Whangapoua Beach. From there it's a bush walk of 20-30 minutes, depending on your fitness.

New Chum Beach on the northern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Photo / File
New Chum Beach on the northern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Photo / File

Wade through the lagoon (yes, you will need to get your feet wet) to the rocks to find the track. It leads up to a pohutukawa- and nikau-clad saddle before dropping down to the beach. Pro tip: wear sensible walking shoes, as the old-fashioned guidebooks used to say.

Like many Kiwi beaches, the 1km crescent is flanked by a headland at either end. To the north, 171m Pukenui; to the southeast, 85m Motuto Point. Clamber its rocky cliff for the best spot to survey the scene.

You'll be looking at blue sea, golden sand, the green of the Kiwi bush — and nothing more. The protected beach has no buildings, no roads, no infrastructure, no camping and very few visitors. Maybe a dolphin and likely a stingray or two.

Victoria Lawrence of Auckland wrote when nominating New Chum as the country's best beach: "It is my haven, a place where I have many happy childhood memories and continue to love as an adult. Many happy families enjoy picnicking in the shade of the red pohutukawa blossoms and exploring the caves in the cliffs. I'm voting New Chum in the hopes that it will raise awareness about the need to prevent developers from building there, and to remind New Zealanders to preserve and protect the beauty we have on our doorstep."

We'll let Winston Aldworth, the Herald Travel Editor who came up with the idea of finding New Zealand's Best Beach, have the last word: "You feel like you're inside a postcard when you're at New Chum."

THE TOP 10 BEACHES

• Castlepoint, Wairarapa
• Hahei, Coromandel
• Kaiteriteri, Tasman
• Matai Bay, Northland
• Matapouri, Northland
• New Chums, Coromandel
• Opito Bay, Coromandel
• Taupo Bay, Northland
• Te Arai, Auckland
• Whangamata, Coromandel


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