Tomorrow is officially the start of summer. In anticipation of long, hot days ahead, Penny Lewis talked to some famous New Zealanders about life at the beach.

Otis and Sarah Frizzell

Artists and foodie entrepreneurs

What is your favourite New Zealand beach?
Otis: It's so hard to choose. And it depends on how you're feeling. Sometimes I like being thrown around in the surf at Port Waikato. Sometimes I like beautiful even sets at Tawharanui. Sometimes a calm and sheltered bay like - well, it's north and on the east coast, but it's still a well-kept secret and I ain't gonna tell.

Sarah: It would have to be Spirits Bay, the most northern tip of New Zealand. We took my parents there when they were over from the UK. We did a big tiki tour in a camper. When we arrived at the beach, it stretched for miles. A golden shimmering paradise, with not a soul to be seen. It took my breath away. It is hauntingly beautiful. And according to Maori legend, spirits depart this world from a pohutukawa tree at the tip of Cape Reinga. On reaching the tree, the spirits travel down a root to the sea below before uniting with their ancestors. Hence its name: Spirits Bay.

Are any other beaches special to you?
Otis: When I was growing up, we had family holidays at Pakiri with a bunch of family friends. Not down at the campground end, though. We camped in the pine trees and schlepped chilly bins full of picnic goodies half an hour over the sand dunes every day to get to the water. But it meant we had the beach to ourselves. Looong lazy summer days.

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Sarah: Second favourite beach would have to be Port Waikato's rugged and wild west coast. We've had awesome big surf swims, picnics, power walks and fishing trips with some of our best friends, Jen and John, the Queen and King of Port Waikato. I've also run along this beach and won the female 8km Port Waikato Challenge. And, boy ... it was a challenge over those dunes. I've cleared my head and asked those waves what direction to take many times, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

Do you get to your favourite beaches regularly?
Otis: It's hard to get to the beach that often, but we've been visiting Port Waikato and that secret spot up on the east coast for a few years now. I've been going to Piha since I was a kid and I'll always love it there. Rugged and awesome.

Sarah: I've only visited Spirits Bay once. I would love to go back with Otis again one day. We visit Port Waikato regularly. It's a beautifully raw, untouched place. We have whanau there and love to take a break at the Port as often as we can.

What do you like doing at the beach? Reading, beach cricket, swimming or other water activities - fishing and so on? Or staring at the water?
Otis: Swimming. I swear the ocean can reset your mind, and cure a hangover. I guess I like reading when I'm at the beach but, to be honest, I usually end up staring at the sparkling water with a blank expression on my face. I drift off.

Sarah: Otis is a water magnet. As soon as he's at the beach, he magically appears in his togs like Superman. I like to observe its beauty from a distance and lie in the sun and read. But I do love a good dip if the weather is warm enough. I love to fish; it's one of my passions. And as often as I can, I do this up at Waikauri Bay at our other dear friends' bach. We're lucky we have lots of best friends with baches, which is completely unintentional. We'd still love them even without the baches, honest.

Do you go for resort-wear glam or comfy-casual at the beach?
Otis: Boardies, sunnies, Jandals, a hat, singlet and a lava-lava.

Sarah: Definitely comfy-casual at the beach. But it's always good to rock a nice pair of sunnies to glam yourself up.

What's your best sun-protection advice?
Otis: A quick rotisserie style. Front, back, front, back, shade. Our sun is so f***ing harsh. I end up spending most time in the shade. Preferably under a tree. A pohutukawa in full bloom please.

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Sarah: Ten minutes each side. Rotate and repeat. Don't fall asleep between the hours of 12 and 3pm; you're just asking for trouble. Been there, done that. Wore the burning strap marks.

Name your ultimate beach picnic hamper. What's normally in the chilly bin?
Otis: Simple. A roast chicken from the supermarket, a French stick, some coleslaw and a carefully selected selection of condiments (I'm not a savage). Beer, chardonnay and cider. And chips. Gotta have salty snacks, just not in the chilly bin.

Sarah: Some succulent free range ham off the bone, rolls with Lucky Taco habanero hot sauce. Loads of fresh salad, fruit and a selection of cheeses. There'd have to be beer and chippies, too. Plus my fave Kopparberg Naked Apple cider in a chilly bin full of ice.

What's your favourite beach overseas?
Otis: There are two. Orchard Beach in the Bronx, NYC. An amazing chica from New York took a friend and me there years ago. It blew our minds. Music and dancing, street ball, low riders, food - pure culture. Who knew there was an amazing beach in the Bronx? The locals call it the Puerto Rican Riviera. And Tulum on the east coast of Mexico. It is just so beautiful.

Sarah: Fave beach overseas would have to be Tulum, Mexico.

What have you got planned for your holidays this summer?
Otis: A staycation with day trips north and south.

Sarah: A staycation this summer. We have a Lucky Taco empire to build!

What has kept you busiest this year?
Otis: Tacos and art.

Sarah: The Lucky Taco.

What are your plans for next year?
Otis: We are steadily building the Lucky Taco into a world-dominating empire. That don't come easy. But I'm also hoping to find more days in the week so I can sink my teeth in to some art projects. A few more days in the week would be nice.

Sarah: World domination!

Otis & Sarah: We have multiple projects on the go as ambassadors for Kopparberg cider and Lucky Taco schemes about to hatch. So watch this space.

Shavaughn Ruakere

Actor

What is your favourite New Zealand beach?

The beach at the end of Ahu Ahu Rd, one along from Oakura Beach, Taranaki. I'm a West Coast girl and love the rawness of it all. One magnificent day I was standing in the black sand staring out at a ruggedly beautiful ocean - I turned around and there in all its glory was a completely cloudless Mt Taranaki. Stunning ocean to my left, my maunga to my right. I don't mind telling you, I had a moment.

What do you like doing at the beach?

Rules allowing, beach equals dog to me. Unfortunately, my boy Paua Fritter died at the start of the year, on a beach incidentally, but there's nothing better than crashing along the sand with a canine buddy by your side. Spent some of my happiest times with him doing just that.

Are you resort-wear glam or comfy-casual at the beach?

Casual-as.

What's your best sun-protection advice?
Cover up. I've never been the sunbathing type. Hopefully, my skin is thanking me for it. Oh and Kiehl's SPF 30.

What's normally in the chilly bin?
Chicken drumsticks, cheese and crackers, chippies, lamingtons, scorched almonds, strawberries, lots of Lindauer!

What have you got planned for your holidays this summer?
Christmas with the whanau then Sandy Bay and the Northern Base Music Festival for New Year.

What are you up to at present?

I'm flying to New York to film for a new TVNZ show called DNA Detective, which will be on screen next year and next month I'm appearing in Basement Theatre's annual Christmas show.

Buck Shelford

Rugby legend

Tell us about your favourite New Zealand beach.

Growing up in Rotorua, it was Lake Rotorua and the rivers around the lake, as well as Little Waihi and Maketu beach. The rivers in Rotorua were always freezing cold, yet you could see all the trout and in season you always had a plentiful supply of watercress. When I moved to Auckland, it became Narrowneck Beach and Cheltenham. Two beautiful beaches.

Do you manage to get to the beach much?

My family and I usually go to Narrowneck or Cheltenham beaches as they are beautiful and safe. They are also good for training up and down the shore for personal fitness.

What do you do at the beach?

I do have the odd swim but I tend to be somewhere in the shade as the sun is far too hot for me and just read the paper or a good book. Watching all the kiddies enjoy themselves playing and just plain mucking around makes you think about your own youth.

Are you resort-wear glam or a comfy-casual type of guy?

Always go to the beach casual.

What's your best sun-protection advice?

Sit under the trees, slip, slop and slap. As they say "wear a hat and T-shirt". Not everyone likes the sun.

What's normally in the chilly bin?

Anything and everything, food, glorious food, with beers and the odd wine.

What's your favourite beach overseas?

Ostia in Rome was lovely, but not a lot of room when it was really busy.

What have you got planned this summer?

Paint the house and to be around family.

What's kept you busiest this year?

Work, but as we all know it is very overrated.

What are your plans for next year?

Probably have to work; I haven't really thought about the next year. But Rugby World Cup will be big. Meri Kirihimete me hari tau hou ki a koutou katoa.

Hinewehi Mohi

Singer and songwriter

What is your favourite Kiwi beach?

Waipuka - also known as Ocean Beach - in Hawke's Bay, between Waimarama and Cape Kidnappers. We have family land there that my great-great-grandmother entrusted to the whanau, so it has important spiritual significance for me. It is also the place where, under a marquee with several hundred of my whanau, on the stroke of midnight New Year's Eve 2000, my husband George asked me to marry him. And as the first rays of the sun rose over the horizon that morning, my family welcomed the dawning of a new millennium with a haka. We try to go home to the Bay a few times a year; but the commute isn't always easy, particularly when we take our daughter Hineraukatauri. Wheelchair access to the beach isn't an option and finding accommodation is challenging, too. Our ancestor Pukepuke Tangiora put Waipuka Estate into 99-year leases so it has only been in recent years, when the leases expired, that we've been able to stay there as whanau.

Are there other beaches special to you?
Anywhere with sea and sand - black or golden - family and friends (black or golden, ha ha) is pretty spesh in this country.

What do you like doing at the beach?

Mostly it's all about spending time with the family; kids swimming in the lagoon, cuzzies fishing and diving for kaimoana and eating, eating, eating.

What's your beach garb?

I like nothing better than togs and a lava-lava or shorts and Jandals.

Sun protection advice?

Our blended family comes in all different shades of fair to dark skin. The white cousins cover up and the darker ones, less so. Unfortunately, I'm a hopeless sun-seeker but I've got better at skin protection over the years.

Ultimate beach picnic?

Paua and crayfish and I'm in heaven.

What's your favourite beach overseas?

The Greek Islands are beautiful.

What are your holiday plans for this summer?

Down to the Bay with whanau celebrating the silly season at Waipuka.

What has kept you busiest this year?

Making telly shows - being involved with putting Maori language and culture on mainstream TV is very satisfying. We've just finished producing a series for TV3 with my Kahungunu cousin Peter Gordon, called Native Kitchen. George and I are also producing a second season of Swagger for Maori Television, where young people shoot their own stories on smartphones. I've also been inspired by the dedication and aroha of the children, families, staff and board of the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre.

What are your plans for next year?

Raising big bucks to expand the Music Therapy Centre for all those who have special challenges in life. The trust is busy planning a fundraiser gala dinner for next year to support the running of the centre.

Te Radar

Broadcaster and writer

What's your favourite New Zealand beach?

Whichever one I am closest to at the time. Our beaches are so eclectic it's hard to narrow them down. The rugged iron-sand beaches of the West Coast reinforce our splendid isolation, whereas the gentle lapping water on sheltered East Coast beaches are lovely for a paddle. I like to visit beaches for a nice stroll, and always have my togs and towel in the car if there is any chance of a nice, safe swim.

What do you tend to do at the beach?

Mostly hide from the sun while reading and sleeping.

Do you go for resort-wear glam or comfy-casual?

Very short swim shorts and a long-sleeve shirt. I am a shade seeker. The thought of lying roasting in the sun is utterly abhorrent.

What's your best sun-protection advice?

Shade. Find it and make it a comfortable sanctuary. If using a tree, be aware that you will need to think ahead about where the shadow will be at the heat of the day and secure your space accordingly.

What's normally in the chilly bin?

Bread, preserved meats, cheese, craft beer, rubbish bag, Champagne, (okay, sparkling wine), oranges.

Favourite beach overseas?

Anywhere with safe snorkelling and abundant fish.

What have you got planned for your holidays this summer?

Avoiding crowded beaches.

What has kept you busiest this year?

Scripting a new New Zealand history series.

What are your plans for next year?

Filming the new New Zealand history series I have just written.

Sally Martin

Shortland Street actor

What is your favourite New Zealand beach and why?

I love Pourerere Beach, in Hawke's Bay. We used to go there every year as a family. I loved the big waves and the gold sand. We would hire a four-wheeler to hoon around on. Dad would drag us on a sled across the dunes. There was a reef at low tide and long grass behind the bach that if you lay in you couldn't be seen. I haven't been for so many years. It must have changed so much. I don't think I'd hurry to go back - I know it will be still be beautiful but I'd sort of like to preserve those perfect childhood memories. They're some of the most special I have. And I'd be scared to see if the bach had been replaced by a multi-million-dollar beach house. It wouldn't be my Pourerere.

What do you like doing at the beach?

I love the ocean. I love getting smashed by waves then collapsing on the sand and baking my togs dry. These days the water has to be warm enough, though. Otherwise, I like lying on the sand and zoning out. I can sit on a beach in silence for a long time.

What's your beach dress code?

Comfort. I like a big, cotton tent-style maxi-dress. Easy to hike up, cover up or take off.

What's your best sun-protection advice?

Drench yourself in sunscreen while you're naked, to avoid missing spots around your swimwear. Do this before you get to the beach to prevent sand sticking and causing alarm. Or not. Reapply regularly - a spray mist makes it easy. Don't forget backs of knees and tops of feet!

What's normally in the chilly bin?

Cider and rose. Prawn rice-paper rolls, scotch eggs, chippies and watermelon. Coins for ice blocks.

What are your summer plans?

I'm looking forward to being with my family. For part of my break we're all going off the grid to a very small town in the Bay of Plenty - an isolated beach getaway. I can't wait. The other half I'll be with friends, with no hard-and-fast plans yet. That's the way I intend to keep it - very low key with no commitments so I can escape away for a night at a moment's notice or have everyone come to mine for a throw-together barbecue. It'll be quintessential Kiwi, my summer. I hope to get a bit fatter and a bit browner.

What's kept you busiest this year?

Work keeps me busy, usually. I've had a fun time around home, too. I'll have been a year in my house come January and I've loved every minute of it.

What are your plans for next year?

I want to go to Bali. I've never been and I am so excited to ... I want to explore and meditate and eat and party. There are some fun work plans but really I can't say I've thought about next year much. I am approaching it with an open heart, an open mind and an open calendar.

Michael Galvin

Shortland Street actor

What's your favourite New Zealand beach?

When I was growing up my family had a beach house on Te Horo beach, on the Kapiti coast between Waikanae and Otaki. The beach was very rough - full of stones and tree-sized driftwood, but I loved it. It was hopeless for sunbathing or swimming but great for discovering dead animals. There was the usual bloated fish - some of which were pretty scary looking - but if you were lucky, there would be a dead, bloated cow that had drowned in a river, been washed downstream then been dumped ashore by the tide. Or maybe a sheep. Sometimes the animal had been there so long it was hard to work out what it was - just stretched, blistered skin and gaping eye sockets. Happy times. I haven't been there since I was a teenager. I'm sure Te Horo is much more developed now and they've cleaned the beach up.

What do you like doing at the beach?

It will probably be with my 8-year-old daughter, whose energy is boundless, so we'll be digging holes and swimming and playing with other people's dogs and collecting shells and just generally being very happy.

Is your beach attire resort-wear glam or comfy-casual?

The beach is definitely for dressing down.

What's your best sun protection advice?

Well, it's all just got a lot more confusing, because apparently they've discovered that a major cause of illnesses is vitamin D deficiency from us over-protecting our skins from the sun, unless I've got that wrong. I think, as one of New Zealand's pre-eminent health professionals, I will refrain from offering sun-protection advice in case it's wrong.

What's in the chilly bin?

As I said, I'll be at the beach with my daughter, so there'll be juice boxes and water bottles and painstakingly prepared fruit and vegetable snacks that won't get eaten and bags of chips that will.

What's your favourite beach overseas?

When I lived in London we took a trip down to Brighton. I loved it. So calm after London. The beach itself was a bit crap but there was so much else there: the amazing Royal Pavilion and the piers and the run-down, once-grand Georgian terraced houses.

What are your holiday plans?

I like staying in Auckland over summer. There's lots to do and not nearly as many people doing it because they've all gone to Matakana and Omaha and the Coromandel.

What has kept you busiest this year and what are your plans for next year?
Shortland Street. More Shortland Street.