The Best Beaches To Visit Near Wellington

Wellington's beaches extend along the Cook Strait between the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific Ocean
Wellington's beaches extend along the Cook Strait between the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific Ocean | © Geoff Marshall / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Bianca Ackroyd
3 August 2020

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.

Oriental Bay in Wellington City

Natural Feature
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Oriental Bay, and Mt Victoria, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand - aerial
© David Wall / Alamy
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.

Atmosphere:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly, Dog Friendly, Accessible (Wheelchair)

Days Bay in Lower Hutt

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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.

Scorching Bay on the Miramar peninsula

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Scorching Bay in Karaka Bays is on the Miramar peninsula and lies at the entrance to the Wellington harbour. With its clear aquamarine waters and lush green hills, Scorching Bay is a great place for a lazy day with some beach cricket and milkshakes from the nearby Scorch-O-Rama café. The beach has a grass area and is sheltered from northerly winds. It’s another favourite beach in Wellington to watch ships go past.

Lyall Bay in Wellington City

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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).

Princess Bay in Wellington City

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New Zealand, Lyall bay in Wellington
© Stefan Gottfridsson / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Paraparaumu Beach on the Kāpiti Coast

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Bright yellow New Zealand Lupins on Paraparaumu Beach with Kapiti Island blurred in the background
© SCheckley / Alamy Stock Photo
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.
These recommendations were updated on August 3, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.