24 Jan The A-List: Beaches To Reach By Boat
Here in NZ we’re lucky to be surrounded by beaches to visit. But there are some extra-special ones only accessible by boat, plane or helicopter that are well worth the planning to go and see. Think New Chums, but with a big ol’ glass of Berocca.
These are our top five picks to really get off the beaten track and see some of the best island, beaches and bays we have to offer. Now all you need is a boat, or a helicopter, or a plane… Jokes, there are local tourism operators for each of these at the ready to help you get there.
Off the Beaten Track to… George Sound
Located in stunning Fiordland, George Sound is the lesser known sound than the famous and more visited Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds. It’s in the George Sound that adventurous travellers after a challenge can trek a remote hiking path over two to three days, depending on fitness levels.
A DOC route, it’s rough, muddy and pretty steep in some places so you’d need above average fitness ability for this one. With unbridged river and stream crossings you’ll feel like a world explorer conquering new territory and have some epic selfie shots to share on Instagram afterwards.
Off the Beaten Track to… Mokoia Island
Located in Lake Rotorua is the tiny Mokoia Island. Considered sacred by the local iwi, access to the island is limited to small boat tour groups only.
Featured in many folklore tales and rich in history, Mokoia Island even features bullet holes from a battle in one of it’s rock formations. With geothermal pools to enjoy and volcanic rock that’s any geography enthusiasts dream a visit here is like going a school trip but actually getting to do all the stuff you want to.
Our favourite part of a visit here is being able to plant your own tree to commemorate your visit, helping to replant native species on the island.
Off the Beaten Track to… Tiritiri Matangi Island
With a varied history, Tiritiri Matangi Island is only open to a limited number of visitors throughout the year, so you’ll need to plan well ahead for this one. As a scientific reserve the island welcomes you with a DOC ranger who gives you a briefing on the island, and the Visitor Centre offers free coffee and tea.
During its history the island has been a forest, a settled pa, farm land and home to a lighthouse once housing the brightest light in the southern hemisphere. Now it’s a haven for many endangers species of birds. If you’ve got parents or friends and family who are really into bird-watching, this is a once in a lifetime trip they’ll rave about for years to come., thanks to you (and us, for telling you about it but you can take all the credit).
Off the Beaten Track to… Garden Cove, Waiheke
Garden Cove is a sheltered, sandy, horseshoe-shaped bay approximately half way between Onetangi and Hooks Bay on the northern side of Waiheke Island.
It has a very, very small entrance and once you’re in you can only fit about three or four boats in the bay. Many visitors will find they’re the only boat there – we once anchored for two nights and had the entire bay to ourselves the whole time.
The beach itself is quintessentially Kiwi – a sandy beach, a rope swing and a big grass hill.
Keen fisherman and woman should try their luck on either side of the entrance to the cove, as there are some large snapper to be found while feeding from the submerged rock.
Off the Beaten Track to… Awaroa
If Awaroa sounds mildly familiar, it’s because this is the beach that needed crowdfunding to buy it back from private ownership. Over $2 million was raised and the beach was handed over after the purchase to DOC to look after.
Visiting Awaroa is like visiting the definition of Kiwiana – a boat, a sandy beach, a fringe of pohutakawa, rolling hills, an estuary that fills up during high tide. It’s a stunning place, steeped in history and now something we and our children can enjoy for centuries to come.
Awaroa has a hotel, café and restaurant and it is stunning – with big beautiful high windows to smugly take in the view and Tui birdsong serenading you as you eat, it also means you won’t have to lug a picnic basket over with you.