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Oriental Bay | © Phillip Capper/Flickr
Oriental Bay | © Phillip Capper/Flickr
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A Guide to Wellington's Beaches and Bays

Picture of Thalita Alves
Updated: 16 January 2017
If you’re visiting Wellington in the summer, you’ll absolutely fall in love with its scenic beaches and bays. New Zealand’s cool capital city has plenty of harbourside vistas to share with locals and tourists alike. As you dive into this the capital city’s best destinations, make sure to check out the eight main coastal attractions in your surroundings.

Lyall Bay

There’s something for everyone in Lyall Bay. Soft sand for the chilled out sunbathers, Pacific waters for the swimmers and surfers – there’s even an Art Deco building nearby if you feel like doing a bit off-shore sightseeing. The beach’s south coast location invites you spectate as the South Island ferry makes its trip in and out of the city. If you’re going to plunge into the ocean, make sure to wear a wet suit – even on a warm day, those water temperatures can get quite nippy.

Lyall Bay | © Phillip Capper/Flickr
Lyall Bay | © Phillip Capper/Flickr

Oriental Bay

Popular with locals and visitors alike, Oriental Bay is Wellington’s man-made, urbanised beach. Right within walking distance from the downtown waterfront, this is the place to go to get a healthy mix of sandy shores and city life. Walk along the coastal promenade, soak up the sunny views by the golden sands, or simply sit at a nearby café with the breezy scenery setting a serene mood in background.

Oriental Bay | © Phillip Capper/Flickr
Oriental Bay | © Phillip Capper/Flickr

Days Bay

Venture across the Wellington harbour to get to Days Bay – the journey can be done on the road, or by ferry (the latter will definitely be more memorable). The Dominion Post Ferry leaves from the Queen’s Wharf downtown and will take you across to Days Bay in 20 minutes. There, you’ll be able to partake in variety of water sports and you can even explore the nearby Eastbourne village.

Days Bay Wharf | © Jackie Lck/Flickr
Days Bay Wharf | © Jackie Lck/Flickr

Makara Beach

Want to add a bit of hiking to your summery pursuits? Then Makara Beach is the place for you. Pass through Wellington’s western suburbs to encounter this hidden gem. You’ll be surrounded by undeveloped stretches of sand, plenty of greenery, and 6km (3.7 miles) worth of hiking trails to follow.

Makara Beach | © Lanma726/Wikimedia Commons
Makara Beach | © Lanma726/Wikimedia Commons

Island Bay

A smooth sailing paradise, Island Bay is the perfect spot for boat-watching and snorkelling. The serene anchorage attracts quite a few boaties to this harbour – but only for a scenic trip, as fishing is strictly prohibited. If you’re a keen diver, some companies offer guided tours of the local shipwrecks and reefs. Otherwise, just follow the water buoys to make the most of the Island Bay Snorkel Trail.

Island Bay | © Phillip Capper/Flickr
Island Bay | © Phillip Capper/Flickr

Red Rocks Beach

Let’s make one thing clear: this beach is not for sitting. Red Rocks is at the farthest end of Wellington’s southern coast, and is a popular place to walk around on a summer’s day. The jagged shoreline is ideal for hikers wanting a unique adventure – it’s lined with red rocks, a scenic reserve, and a seal colony you can visit.

Te Kopahou Reserve, Red Rocks Beach, Wellington | © Michal Klajban/Wikimedia Commons
Te Kopahou Reserve, Red Rocks Beach, Wellington | © Michal Klajban/Wikimedia Commons

Scorching Bay

Scorching Bay is a small, intimate beach on Wellington’s east coast. Rocky plains on the northernmost side gives the bay just the right amount of ruggedness to contrast with its family-friendly grassy plains and sandy stretches. Scorching Bay is well-served with cafés nearby and there’s even a playground for children to enjoy.

Scorching Bay, Wellington | © Brad Fults/Flickr
Scorching Bay, Wellington | © Brad Fults/Flickr

Petone Beach

Petone is a local suburb, easily reached by bus, car or ferry. The beach itself stretches from this area right up to the mouth of the Hutt River. Because of its length, Petone Beach is a popular jogging spot, as well as being a lovely place for a lie-in. There’s a shopping district within walking distance, and the nearby Settler’s Museum is a good place to get a feel for local history, too.

Petone Beach | © Anja/Flickr
Petone Beach | © Anja/Flickr