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New Zealand as a country absolutely flocks to the beach at summer. As a South Auckland girl, I have summer day memories of slowly winding our way around the Maraetai coast in the steady flow of traffic to find a tiny patch of sand to call our own. In later years we found a few places further off the beaten track and they’ve always been far more enjoyable to me than hanging out with the masses! Best of all, all these places are stroller-accessible and tried and tested by our family!
Source: Personal Photo
Our most recent discovery, Rothesay Bay is one of the local secrets of Auckland’s North Shore. Devonport, Takapuna Beach and Mairangi Bay enjoy wider acclaim but we found this little haven tucked down the end of suburban streets.
Why go? We love that the playground is set back from the beach and that there is a huge grassed area in between, ideal for those kids who have energy to burn yet still need consistent observation near water. When the tide is out, there are some pretty neat rock pools that are loads of fun for little nature explorers.
Our recommendation? Being tucked away, there’s a bit of a walk back to any shops. This is definitely the type of beach where you’re better off packing a picnic lunch and making a day of it, letting the day just flow away from you as you forget about the clock. Carparks at and near the beach seem quite plentiful, so there shouldn’t be too much of a walk even on peak summer days
Source: The Kiwi Kronicles
A little further out of Auckland, this beach is definitely worth the journey. Driving through Orere Village is like a fantastic little trip into yesteryear; the locals are charming and incredibly helpful.
Why go? This beach is perfect if you’ve got both teens and toddlers – the water remains fairly shallow close to the beach but drops off to about 1.2 metres deep further out, allowing your older kids to actually get a swim on. Getting out here truly feels like getting away from it all – once you’ve wound your way through the densely wooded gorge you feel like you’re in another world.
Our recommendation? Make an entire day of it – stop for brunch at Clevedon Village and then head out for the afternoon, grabbing some fish & chips to eat on the beach before you head home. Alternatively, stay overnight at the very affordable Orere Point Holiday Park and continue your journey the following day down the Seabird Coast to Miranda Hot Pools.
Kariotahi has a reputation as a surf beach, one of those wild west coast beaches that are known for big waves and rips. Luckily there are several small estuaries that are great for small kids to splash around in while mum or dad tackles the surf for some thrilling fun.
Why go? It has all the charms of an black-sanded beach without the population of Piha. 4WD and/or riding horses on the beach is permitted and can mean that you can find a quiet spot to hang out with your wee family. On a good day, paragliders float down from the cliffs above. It’s all the excitement of Piha with half the people
Our recommendation? Stop at Nick’s Cafe for brunch – totally family friendly – then head out of town to the beach for an explore. Overcast days are slightly better for visits; once that sun starts bearing down the iron sand can get VERY hot.
Sunkist Bay, Beachlands
Tucked away at the end of a suburban street, Sunkist Bay always seems to be a lot quieter than nearby Maraetai and Omana Beaches. With a boat ramp and coastal walk (suitable for strollers), it’s unclear why this place isn’t a lot more pumping than it is!
Why go? There is a fantastic kids’ playground – if the wee ones don’t run themselves ragged in the water, you can be assured that this will do the trick. Neighbouring Pine Harbour also has a great local market – filling up with all sorts of gourmet goodies here and then heading to the beach could be just the ticket.
Our recommendation? Stop at the dairy on the way there for ice blocks as it’s a heck of a walk back up that hill with little people. Try and aim for between tides, at high tide the water is right up to the sea wall, low tide and we’d recommend wearing aqua shoes as it can get a little rocky further out from shore.
Ambury Regional Park
OK, you’ve got me… this last one isn’t a beach per se, although it is definitely possible to walk to the shore. I’m gobsmacked that this Regional Park isn’t vastly more popular as it is a working farm! Goats, cows, pigs, sheep; you’ll find them all here!
Why go? Well, aside from the cute animal factor, Ambury is host to some pretty awesome short walks, ideal for little legs or when you’re carrying a little person in a front pack. Near to Auckland Airport, there’s also the chance for the littlest aviation enthusiasts to do a little plane spotting.
Our recommendation? You can book BBQs here, definitely worth doing if you are visiting with a large group. If the weather gets too warm, head into the shade of the trees or the woodshed to cool down – you’ll probably see a few of the animals do the same!
Skinnies is a lightweight sun gel that’s made specifically for the issues of the New Zealand sun. Sweet Mama M and Skinnies love to explore so wherever you are in NZ, we’d love to know your hidden summer gem. You could win one of three 100 ml tubes of Skinnies Sungel (RRP: $34.95) to keep you sun-safe while you’re enjoying your summer family time! Comment below and then click through to enter the giveaway and discover more ways to win!