Ask any Kiwi where their favourite beach is, and they’ll all have a different answer. From north to south, our coastlines make up some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But they are more than just pretty to look at, these coastlines are all unique and interesting in their own way.
New Zealand has 15,000 kilometres of coastline making it the 9th longest in the world. The coastline borders the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The northern and southernmost points of the coastline on the two main islands are Surville Cliffs and Slope Point respectively.
There are many interesting things to know about the coastlines around New Zealand and all the different types of beaches and sands they are made up of. In some beaches up north of New Zealand, the sand squeaks as you walk on it because it is so fine. Most of the sand that we think of is white sand, but in New Zealand we have many other colours. The well-known black sand beaches sweeping down the west coast of the North Island are the sites of New Zealand’s greatest known reserves of ironsand. There is even pink sand, located at Pink Beach – a remote destination on the east side of Shakespear Park, in Auckland. The park offers hours of hiking trails and has three popular beaches with beautiful pink sand. Wherever you are on the New Zealand coastline, you are never too far away from many unique and interesting types of coastlines – rugged looking beaches, unusually coloured sandy beaches, beaches with massive sand dunes to boogie board down and so much more.
You may have heard specifically of a few famous coastlines that make up the beaches of New Zealand. Ninety Mile Beach is on the western coast of the far north of the North Island of New Zealand. But truth be told, the beach is actually 88 kilometres long. Interestingly, this beach is officially a highway, but is really only suitable for 4WD vehicles and is safe to drive only at specific times of the tides. Or perhaps you’ve heard of the Moeraki Boulders, situated along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the wave-cut Otago coast of New Zealand. The Moeraki Boulders are unusually large and spherical boulders scattered either as isolated or clusters of boulders within a stretch of beach where they have been protected in a scientific reserve. Moeraki boulders are a wonder of the world.
New Zealand’s coastlines are so beautiful and internationally renowned that many Hollywood movies are filmed there – such as Narnia: Prince Caspian, the Waterhorse, Mulan, Mission Impossible: Fallout, a Wrinkle in Time, Lord of the Rings, Falling in Love, The Piano and even Taylor Swift’s music video: Out of the Woods.
While it is beautiful to look at, there is no denying that the coast can be dangerous. Surf Life Saving New Zealand has revealed that the nation does have some particularly dangerous beaches, based on the number of rescues carried out in the past year. In particular, notorious West Auckland beaches Muriwai, Bethells and Piha, known for their dramatic black sand, rugged beauty and wild surf, had 82 rescues between them in the 2018/19 period. Thankfully, we have amazing surf-life savers across New Zealand who are always ready to help where needed, and keep an eye on things even when they are not.
What’s great to know, which is something all kiwis do, is that wherever you are in NZ you are never too far away from the beautiful coast and all the wonders it has to offer.
Critical Thinking Questions:
1. What is dangerous about the coast?
2. How can people tell that going swimming in the ocean will be dangerous that day? What signs are there to look out for?
3. Why do surf-life savers need to be on the lookout, even on a calm day?
Practical Thinking Questions:
1. What is your favourite thing about the coast?
2. What is your favourite beach in New Zealand, and why?
3. What is an interesting fact you can think of about the New Zealand coastlines in particular?