New Zealand’s beautiful island and coastal breaks

Cathedral Cove at Coromandel. Pic: Wikimedia Commons.

AS New Zealand is composed of two large islands and surrounded by sea, it may seem slightly obvious that there are good coastal breaks to be had. But these delightful seaside places are ones you just don’t want to miss.

Otago peninsula

The beautiful views from Tairoa Head. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

The 20km long Otago peninsula on a finger of land jutting out from Dunedin is home to a variety of wildlife such as albatrosses, seals and penguins. It’s also dotted with some of the prettiest bays, beaches, capes and headlands in the country making it a superb choice for a variety of pursuits on sea and land. The Taiaroa headland, home to a lighthouse and a colony of some 100 Northern Royal Albatrosses, is one of the biggest attractions on the peninsula, not only to see the birds at the Royal Albatross Centre with the largest wingspan in the world but tiny Blue Penguins that swim ashore here at night. Yellow Eyed Penguins can be seen at Sandfly Bay or on tours at Penguin Place. Fur, hooker and leopard seals can be seen around the peninsula on both rocks and beaches so keep your eyes peeled. The peninsula also boasts a castle and an old Maori church. Walking, cycling and driving opportunities abound.

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Marlborough Sounds

Tory Channel, a mayor arm of Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough Sound. Pic: Philip C, Creative Commons.

This dramatic series of sea drowned valleys is a superb combination of wonderful hideaway bays and gorgeous sun drenched beaches on the sounds, islands and peninsulas near Picton. As access to these is sometimes difficult a boat is often needed to get to the various settlements and accommodation in the area, which only adds to the wonderful romantic isolation you feel in this region. Activities include sailing, kayaking, sun bathing, walking, bird watching and of course relaxation with barely another person in sight to spoil the view.

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Coromandel Peninsula

Looking out over Waikawau Bay, Coromandel Peninsula. Pic: Stigm, Creative Commons.

Located on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island, the Coromandel Peninsula extends a full 85 kilometres into the Hauraki Gulf with a rugged, isolated and sparsely inhabited spine and numerous islands offshore. As it is just 55 kilometres from Auckland it’s something of the city’s playground and a popular spot on weekend breaks and holidays. Think relaxed, laid-back lifestyles, beautiful bush walks, historical gold mining towns to explore, surfing towns and other marine experiences and it’s a great spot for a getaway. Some of the most iconic sights here include Cathedral Cove which is as dramatic as it sounds and Hot Water Beach where you dig your own hot pool at low tide. Kayaking, fishing, boat trips, surfing, sailing, beach fun and more await on the Coromandel Peninsula.

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Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands. Pic: Wikimedia Commons.

Just when you thought the fun couldn’t extend much further north of Auckland, there comes the Bay of Islands and one of the country’s best tourist locations. With 144 islands and big game fishing, sailing, sea kayaking, penguins, dolphins, whales, walking tracks, campgrounds and more it’s a veritable paradise for those that don’t mind a beach or three, water activities, sunshine and sand.  Other than these fantastic water activities it also holds enormous historical importance for the country as the site of the first British settlement and hence European colonization. But it’s also where the Treaty of Waitangi was drawn and signed in 1840, an important landmark in relations between the Europeans and resident Maoris.