Jane Jurgens lists her top west coast beaches.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is featured in Vogue magazine's latest issue, released last week, and she decided to use the opportunity to draw attention to a beautiful New Zealand beach. Wearing fashion from NZ designers Herriot and Harman Grubisa, Ardern's shoot took place at Auckland's Bethells Beach, one of many beautiful west coast beaches.
It's not the first time Bethells has received some high-level praise — in 2016, Taylor Swift described it as "the most beautiful beach I've ever been on in my life". The pop star filmed the video for Out of the Woods at Bethells, although she did draw some criticism for potentially disturbing the nesting area of the dotterel. But it's no surprise this wild West Auckland beach gets all this attention — with black sand, dramatic cliffs and an expansive stretch of beach, it's an incredible spot to witness the power of nature.
NINETY MILE BEACH
Ninety Mile Beach is world famous, stretching from west of Kaitaia all the way up to Cape Reinga at the northernmost point of the country. However, the name is a bit misleading — it's only around 55 miles long. Its epic white sand dunes are a huge drawcard for tourists, with plenty of fun to be had sandboarding down the slopes. The beach is well known for snapper fishing and shellfish, as well as being a great spot for surfers of all levels of experience.
Also endorsed by a famous name, this beach on Taranaki's Surf Highway was where Tom Cruise stayed and had surf lessons while working on the set of The Last Samurai. You can follow in his flippers, as the local surf school holds lessons during summer. This beautiful black-sand beach is one of the most popular in the region and the township is also home to a thriving eccentric arts community. And it's home to what was once the largest surfboard in the world.
Its famous driftwood sign may have recently been destroyed in a storm, but this rustic beach on the South Island's west coast still has plenty going for it. Overall, it's a better beach to take a stroll down, rather than take a dip at — conditions can be changeable, so it's only recommended for experienced swimmers and surfers. But you'll find enough to keep you occupied on its pebbly black-sand shore — look for pounamu (greenstone) among the rocks and keep your eyes peeled for penguins and seals. There's space for a picnic and lots of interesting art galleries, jewellers and old buildings in the nearby town.