The results are in! Today, our finalists are announced: 13 stunning Kiwi beaches chosen by you and the Travel team. Click here to see the results, and read about our 10 most popular beaches, and three of our favourite wild cards.
But every New Zealander knows that some of our finest stretches of sand are the hard to reach, the lesser-known, and the hidden gems.
Here are some of our favourite entries from readers who plumped for Aotearoa's quieter coastlines.
Don't miss out on your chance to crown New Zealand's Best Beach 2021. Go to nzherald.co.nz/bestbeach to vote for your favourite of our finalists.
Pukehina Beach, Bay of Plenty
Pukehina Beach is the "hidden gem" of the Eastern Bay of Plenty beaches. Out of peak season this little town of 200 is a closely-knit community made up of fishermen and women, retirees and tangata whenua connected to the great Arawa waka. Its beautiful beach and baches are reminiscent of the days of old. Many homes have been passed down from generation to generation, changed only by a lick of paint, maybe a new deck. Cousins bed down for the night in a sleepout that also stores longboards, surfcasters and kayaks. Aunties can be seen gathering kaimoana in the estuary, nannas and pops taking their fur babies for long walks along the beach and uncles meeting at the local - Hippi Pippi. From stunning sunsets to an ever-changing beach landscape and a micro-climate all of its own, Pukehina Beach with its soft white sand and turquoise waters is a truly unique Aotearoa beach experience
New Chums Beach, Coromandel Peninsula
For the last 20+ years I've ventured over with family and then friends, had many picnics, many beach days, overnight stays, and several beach cricket games. The fact that you can't drive there weeds out the crowds, and the walk over is spectacular in itself! It truly is a magical part of NZ
Whale Bay Beach, Tutukaka Coast, Northland
A 10-minute walk along the cliffside gives you an initial cheeky but breathtaking view of the bays surrounding Whale Bay. Once you climb down the path, the beach itself has crystal clear blue waters (almost Maldives-like). Beautiful trees perfect for hammocks and a small swing provide seclusion and shade, and small rock pools on either side for exploration. Between well-known beaches but with warmer waters, it's a hidden gem. It is a must.
Kariaotahi beach, South Auckland
I have been a lifeguard for this beach for eight seasons now and been a part of the junior surf since I was 7 years old (now 21). From the experiences I've had from this beach the whole time I have been part of this great community and piece of nature, I can safely say that this is by far the best beach in Auckland and the country.
Amodeo Bay, Coromandel
Our special slice of paradise. We first came here on our honeymoon nearly 16 years ago and haven't stopped coming back. It's rugged and remote enough to be quiet, so no overcrowding, and has the most amazing sunsets, and best fishing spots not far from shore. It is truly a Kiwi experience. There is a stream that is fed by the ocean where there is abundance of pet eels that you can hand feed and pat. It is surrounded by native bush and on a still night you can hear kiwi.
Taupō Bay, Far North
It's special for its size, location, stunning scenery, and chilled feel. It epitomises everything we look for in a classic Kiwi beach - it's not flashy, never overcrowded, part of a magical coastline, just a down to earth beach that has it all. We love it.
Bethells Beach/Te Henga
I nominate the best beach in west Auckland, Bethells Beach/Te Henga. It is one of the most serene beaches, the rough coast beautifully reflected on those sunny days. Always an awesome sunset, somewhere to swim/surf/fish, walks along the cliffs, in the dunes, along the beach, special wildlife, and people from all different walks of life. You also have access to Lake Wainamu which is a short walk from the beach and is spectacular with its huge dunes reflecting off the lake. The cafe makes an unbeatable post-beach feed.
Jackson Bay, West Coast
On a beautiful sunny day, you can enjoy a beautiful wild beach and feel like you are the only person in the world - sunbathe, search for rare pebbles on the beach, in the evening build a driftwood fire. You name it! On a day with wild weather, it's like you're in another world - misty, rugged, and off the beaten path. One of the best spots on the NZ coastline by far.
Thorne Bay Beach, North Shore
A beautiful beach on the Waitematā Harbour. Golden sand, shade from trees along the beach, rock pools with fresh water running between the rocks from Lake Pupuke. Overlooking Rangitoto and north to Whangaparāoa. Plus with a steep incline at the water's edge for swimming close to shore and avoiding paddling too far to reach deep water. Only accessible by walking around the foreshore or via paths from Minnehaha Avenue - there is no car access so feels more remote and secluded, yet you're less than 10km to Auckland's city centre.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com