New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, is situated on the southern tip of the North Island and is known for its windy and unpredictable weather. But when the sun’s out, residents head out to beaches and bays in the Cook Strait. From Oriental Bay to Paraparaumu Beach, here is Culture Trip’s best beaches to visit near Wellington.
Wellington Harbour’s thin and long strip of beach along Oriental Bay is a favourite of many in New Zealand’s capital city on a summer day. With its scenic city skyline and hills of Hutt Valley in the distance, this artificial beach is perfect for when the sun comes out. It runs parallel to the promenade and on a sunny day people stay out until 9pm to see the iconic water fountain’s colourful light and water display after dark. Oriental Bay beach is popular with sports swimmers and kayakers. Watch the Interisland Ferry enter and leave the harbour as it returns from or departs to New Zealand’s South Island terminal in Picton.
Across the harbour from Wellington city is the Greater Wellington suburb of Lower Hutt, home to Days Bay in Eastbourne. This beach is the place in Wellington to make a dramatic splash with bombs into the sea from the wharf. Catch an East by West Ferry from Wellington’s harbour to Days Bay wharf and enjoy a day in the water kayaking or paddleboarding, which can be hired from the Boatshed. Visitors to Days Bay can also hire a bicycle and explore the nearby historic Pencarrow Lighthouse.
Lyall Bay is the beach to go to for surfers in the capital looking to catch some waves. This long beach is situated 10 minutes south of Wellington city and can get crowded, as it’s a popular surfing and swimming beach with locals. According to Surfseeker, waves break on the beach and can get up to three metres (10ft).
For those looking for a hidden gem, head to Princess Bay on the city’s South Coast near Houghton Bay. Princess Bay is part of the Taputeranga Marine Reserve. This unspoilt curved beach is great for those who want to explore rock pools along with its rocky point. On a clear day, look out across the Cook Strait to see the tops of the Kaikoura ranges on New Zealand’s South Island.
Head 52km (32mi) north from Wellington to the Kāpiti Coast and enjoy swimming in the Tasman Sea at Paraparaumu Beach. This wide beach is just one of the region’s many beautiful beaches that stretch along this 40km (25mi) coastline. It’s a great beach for families with its gentle waves and links to Raumati Beach in the south and Waikane Beach in the north. Go fishing, boating or kayaking at Paraparaumu Beach, and don’t forget to look out for the oystercatchers sticking their long beaks into the soil in the hopes of finding their next meal.
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