An 11 kilometre stretch of sand in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has been named New Zealand's most loved beach.

Ohope took the title in a four-week Facebook poll held by the AA.

The beach in Whakatane District is also in the country's top three places for most sunshine hours every year.

Ohope won almost 100,000 of the 600,000 votes cast in the campaign.


Second most popular was Whangamata Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, followed by Matai Bay on the Karikari Peninsula in Northland.

The top beach will receive an official AA sign marking it as New Zealand's most loved. Other beaches in the top 10 will also receive signs.

AA General Manager Membership and Brand Dougal Swift said while Ohope Beach won out, what was clear was how important sun, sand and surf is to New Zealand culture.

"Kiwis are never far from the ocean and because of that we become inextricably linked to a beach, sometimes many beaches,'' Mr Swift says.

"While our favourite beaches might change over time, most of us still have happy, crowded memories and photo collections loaded with beach cricket, swimming, barbecues and the odd skinny dip.''

Mr Swift says beaches can have special meaning for many reasons.

"That's why a lot of the participants who voted for New Zealand's most loved beach were so passionate in their comments. Their beach is always going to be the most loved because of its hidden value.''

The top 10:

1. Bay of Plenty - Ohope Beach

2. Coromandel - Whangamata Beach

3. Northland - Matai Bay

4. South Canterbury - Caroline Bay

5. Wellington/Wairarapa - Castlepoint

6. Nelson/Tasman - Kaiteriteri Beach

7. Taranaki/Wanganui - Back Beach

8. West Coast - Bruce Bay

9. Otago - St Clair Beach

10. Auckland - Tawharanui