A perk of living in a coastal city such as Wellington is the variety of beaches and bays that are accessible to us. Whether it’s for swimming, surfing, or going for a walk to take in the view, there are plenty of beaches to enjoy on those unbeatable Wellington days.
We’ll start out with arguably the most popular of Te Whanganui-a-Tara’s beaches – Oriental Bay. A few minutes’ walk from the city, Oriental is the most accessible beach for city dwellers and pedestrians that rely on public transport as their main form of passage. Nearby you’ll find bars, cafés and ice cream stands, as well as a supermarket if a picnic is more your style. Covered in gleaming yellow sand shipped over from Golden Bay, the beach offers a soft spot to sunbathe, toss a ball around and relax while enjoying a stunning view of the Carter Fountain and the sun glistening city scape across the harbour.
Jump on a bus and head southeast to the Miramar Peninsular and you’ll and you’ll pass Scorching Bay Beach and the Karaka Bays. With beautiful golden sand and crystal-clear water it’s a hard spot to beat on a sunny day. Continue further and you’ll get to Worser Bay, a great for a picnic and a swim, and can be a quieter choice if you get there at the right time.
On the on the southern side of the Rongotai isthmus is Lyall Bay, a safe swimming beach that’s also dog-friendly. The Esplanade is scattered with popular eateries like the Botanist, Spruce Goose, and the iconic Maranui Café. With the breakwater at the eastern end of the bay it’s the perfect place to take your board – or a coffee to sip on while watching the paddle and kite boarders ride the surf.
Another popular spot for surfing is Houghton Bay. This small cove brings in some beautiful waves – if you can get in early and grab a spot. The beach is rocky and surrounded by magical rock pools that are great for exploring. It’s a top spot to spend a warm day, with the sun lingering late into the afternoon.
Just around the corner is Island Bay, home of the Taputeranga Marine Reserve. Another great bay for swimming, with a sandy beach perfect to enjoy a picnic on. The reserve offers opportunities for snorkellers and divers to spot fish, octopus and crabs drifting in and out of the seaweeds. With views across the Cook Strait to the South Island, it’s a beautiful spot to watch the sun set over the Kaikōura Ranges.
Eastbourne, Lower Hutt
Catch the ferry across or drive around to the Eastern side of the Harbour and you’ll find Days Bay. Backing on to native bush this beach offers lovely walks, views and birdsong to accompany you as you enjoy a picnic or go for a swim. There are plenty of activities with kayaks and paddleboards available to hire, and some great spots to grab lunch or an ice cream. Another beach that holds the sun late into the afternoon, it’s well worth the trip.
Paraparumu, Raumati, Waikanae, Otaki
I couldn’t write about Wellington beaches without paying homage to the expansive, 40km of beaches along the Kāpiti coastline. With roaring waves that crash into the shore, these beaches are stunning even on the stormiest of days. On a good day they’re beautiful to swim at, and the coastal climate makes for a quick drying time in the sun even as we creep into the colder months. Peka Peka and Ōtaki are my personal favourites, but the views of Kāpiti Island are a treat from every access point.
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