The NZ Herald is running a "Best Beach" competition and it is already apparent that it may not actually reveal New Zealand's best beach.

But like a jumbo crossword over a few summer wines and evenings, half the fun is the debate in getting there.

Matt Williams, chief executive of Surf Life Saving New Zealand's northern region, is one of the "Best Beach" judges.

Matapouri Bay, a popular destination for tourists, has made the NZ Herald top 10 beaches list.
Matapouri Bay, a popular destination for tourists, has made the NZ Herald top 10 beaches list.

Observing the shortlist of 10 beaches, he noted: "The best thing is, the three best beaches in the country aren't on here."


He's right. Each of us have a "best beach" - it's a subjective, personal thing. And we like to think our best beach is our own wee secret.

The public was asked to nominate their best beaches, and in doing so was asked to consider things like local amenities - toilets, food vendors and parking; family friendliness (are there playgrounds?); "green credentials" (water and sand quality); and the X-factor (is it secret or hidden?).

My favourite beaches in Whangarei are Kauri Mountain Beach and Whale Bay.

Both are ever so slightly remote, with varying degrees of access difficulty.

In peak times at summer, there is still plenty of space at Kauri Mountain.

Get to Whale Bay early enough, and you might just stake a claim in the shade of a pohutukawa, although be prepared for someone to plonk down a metre or two away, and for a boat worth as much your house to swing by.

Then there are the beaches we don't know the names of, that reward you with solitude after a hike across paddocks or rocks. So what are the 10 beaches shortlisted from the public vote?

They are:


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

Maitai Bay is profiled today on our page 5, and at the end of the month, public vote will determine New Zealand's Best Beach.

To vote go to or