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Family fun

8 reasons to find the perfect Tutukaka beach: guide

  • 3 minutes

Northland, New Zealand

The secret coast aptly describes Northland’s quiet corners where the traffic whizzes by on its way to Paihia and Waitangi. New Zealand and Australia are awash with beaches, rocky pools, quiet shallow inlets, coral reefs, white sand sweeps with azure water and city beaches where you simply pop across the road from your accommodation. Yet there are still surprises to be found. Tutukaka offers quiet gems where the beach becomes your special place.

Not all Tutukaka beaches are accessible by road. Visitors transverse pathways or around rocks at low tide. It’s all part of the fun of finding your special spot of summer happiness.

View through the trees walking down to Whale Bay, Northland, New Zealand
View through the trees walking down to Whale Bay


Whale Bay is picturesque. The curved white sand beach is backed with native bush. The secluded beach can only be accessed by a 10-minute walk from the beach car park or along the Matapouri Bay to Whale Bay Loop Walk. The beach is great for swimming and snorkelling with consistently clear waters. Family fun beach.

Facilities: PIt toilets


Te Maika headland beaches are primarily beaches where locals for millennia have harvested seafood, used the coastal waters as sea routes and the sea as a living resource. The small secluded bays are now dotted with summer baches as well as permanent homes. Beaches such as Church Bay, Kowharewa Bay, Pacific Bay, and Whangaumu (Wellington’s) Bay (good for kayaking). All these beaches provide easy access, sheltered swimming and launching for your kayak. Tutukaka Block Road beaches are sheltered inner harbour pebble beaches where beach fossicking and shorebirds make their home. The Te Maika Headland Walkway connects the Pacific Bay to Church Bay, Kowharewa Bay and Whangaumu Bay in the Tutukaka Harbour. Family fun

Facilities: BBQ, boat ramps, toilets, picnic areas.


Matapouri Bay has direct road access. Arresting white sand together with an estuary waiting for kids to paddle in makes this beach popular with locals and visitors in the know. From Matapouri the walking track links to Whale Bay, it is a 40 -50 minute walk with glorious coastal views.

Facilities: Include a local store, useful for ice creams and cold drinks, playground, parking and toilets.

NOTE: Mermaid Pools (of Instagram fame) at Matapouri are now closed.

Pristine Beach at Matapouri Bay, New Zealand
Pristine Beach at Matapouri Bay
@Sandy Bay Horse Trekking
@Sandy Bay Horse Trekking


Sandy Bay is a popular board surfing beach. Parking is available at Sandy Bay. Sandy Bay and the Ngunguru Bar are the Tutukaka Coast’s most popular surfing spots. Surfing competitions take place at Sandy Bay. Tutukaka Surf Company offer summer visitors lessons to experience the joy and exhilaration of riding the waves. With surf lessons, surfboard hire and a coastal surf shop fully stocked with coastal and surf related products it is a great place to start your surfing journey.

Facilities: Toilets, Carparks, Lifeguards, Picnic area


Ngunguru is a favourite with the river providing a safe haven for beginner kayakers. Ngunguru is where the main road meets the coast. It is a wow moment rounding the curve to the scene of weeping pohutukawa reaching out over the shallow estuary waters. Hire a kayak, walk among the mangroves and for dinner, fish n chips on the beach from the local takeaway.

Facilities: Local grocery store, takeaway shop, boat ramp, ski lane, motel and school, there is even a nine hole golf course. Public toilets and car parking

Ngunguru Harbour river estuary at low tide, New Zealand
Ngunguru Harbour river estuary at low tide, New Zealand


Woolleys Bay is between Sandy Bay and Whale Bay. The beach is characterised by the white sands of the Tutukaka coast. It is not a safe beach for inexperienced swimmers due to strong undertows. The beach is popular with body surfers.

Facilities: Picnic area, no toilets

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Tutukaka is the base for boat tours for diving and snorkelling around the Poor Knights Islands, Tutukaka Marina, New Zealand
Tutukaka marina from the water


Tutukaka Marina is not really a place to swim since the development of the marina and fishing port. The beautiful natural harbour caught the eye of Polynesian navigator Kupe and has been attracting attention ever since. Today the marina is a fishing port, a coastal waypoint for local and international yachties, and home to a fleet of private launches and charter boats for diving and fishing. There is a general store, dive shop, surf shop and great casual dining and bar options. The green is great for picnics and outdoor events are often held in this space.


Ngunguru Sandspit is a rare coastal landscape with an unmodified sandspit home to shorebirds and a repository of cultural, spiritual and environmental significance. That’s a lot for a very large sand dune. Visitors are welcome to visit however do not take dogs and access is boat.

Getting there



The journey is worth it.

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