Whether you’re getting ready for your next holiday or deciding where you’re going to spend your gap year, New Zealand should be on your short list. From its picturesque countryside to its nature preserves, New Zealand is a land of contrasts. If you explore the country’s beaches long enough, you’ll find rocky shorelines and cool, crisp waters, and in some places, you can see snow-capped mountains while you’re lounging on the beach. Below is a list of some of the best beaches in New Zealand.
Ninety Mile Beach: OK, this one’s really only 55 miles long, and there are quite a few explanations as to how the beach got its name. Spend part of your gap year in New Zealand snapper fishing, pipi packing and walking or driving the shoreline at low tide.
Bay of Plenty: This area is popular with the locals, and for good reason. It’s steeped in the Maori culture, and studded with kiwi fruit plantations; there are activities for everyone in your group—skydiving, swimming with dolphins, horseback riding, and of course basking in the sun on the pristine beaches.
Long Beach: Located on Waiheke Island, Long Beach has become a suburb for locals who want to get away for the weekend. It’s only a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland, so if you’re spending your gap year in New Zealand, you won’t have to wait long to experience its beautiful beaches and gorgeous scenery.
St. Kilda Beach: It’s hard to envision people soaking in the sun so far down south, but Dunedin residents can’t get enough. The brisk breezes and cold water may take some getting used to, but it’s a great place to take a walk or just sit and think. Don’t forget your sweater!
Gillespies Beach: Situated on the western coast of NZ’s South Island, Gillespies is a thirty minute car ride from the Fox Glacier. You’ll see a rocky shoreline dotted with driftwood, and you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the roaring surf. Not many people brave the waters here, but you can still get your toes in the sand and snap some great photos.
Oriental Bay: This New Zealand beach isn’t famous for anything so much as its slow, relaxed pace. You can take a walk, lay back and read that new book you’ve been dying to start, grab a gelato, or just relax. It’s the perfect way to spend a holiday.
Piha Beach: The Lion Rock stands guard over this beach, making it a prime destination for day-trippers from around the world. The scenery is outstanding, but be warned: the rip currents are very dangerous and can catch even the most experienced swimmer off guard. Stick with the area in between the flags, or hang out with some locals, and never go in alone.
There are a lot of places to spend the year before you start college, but we hope you at least consider going to New Zealand. These are just some of the beautiful beaches in that country—there are many more we didn’t have time to mention. Spend your gap year there, and make some incredible memories.
This article was put together by the team at Sport Lived – who can help you make the most of your gap year in New Zealand.