14 secret(ish) swimming spots to head to this summer

There’s something almost magical about stumbling across a deserted beach, lake or waterhole. Tranquil, secluded places where your only company is the echoing bird calls from the surrounding trees, secret swimming spots are something to be cherished. After sharing a few of our favourites a little while ago, we thought it time to update our list and let you in on some more of our top, isolated spots.

Peachgrove Bay, Great Mercury Island
Though you will need a boat to reach this idyllic bay, your hard work will pay off in spades. Sheltered by thick Pohutukawa covered hills, the crystal clear, turquoise waters are almost tropical and are clear down to four metres. A short walk from the beach, there is also a freshwater river that runs from the beach to a delightful waterfall and swimming hole.

Peachgrove Bay

Blue Pools Track, Makarora River, Mt Aspiring National Park
An hour from Wanaka lies the Makarora River where you can wander through native forests and over swing bridges to reach the pristine Blue Pools. Offering an utterly breathtaking experience that showcases nature at its finest, the azure waters are the perfect place for a refreshing dip. If heading down south this holiday season be aware of heavy equipment operating on the new walking track being built from the Makarora River Bridge to the new carpark opposite the Cameron Flat campsite SH6 Makarora to Haast highway. Because of a wet December, both the new track and carpark are expected to be open late January 2020. Avoid the construction area and take notice of any signage or temporary track closures.

Lake Crucible, Mount Aspiring National Park
A plunge into this alpine lake is exhilarating, to say the least. Dotted with icebergs and found at the top point of Wanaka’s Gillespie Pass Circuit (a 58-kilometre loop hike that takes between three to four days to finish) this dip might take some courage and perseverance, but we can assure you it’s worth it.

Lake Crucible

Pakiri Beach, Wellsford
Sprawling white sand will greet you when you arrive at beautiful Pakiri Beach, which is about an hour and a half north of Auckland. The idyllic spot is perfect for swimming, surfing kayaking, a spot of fishing and something this beach has become known for, horse riding (click here to read more).

Puheke beach, Doubtless Bay
With nothing but the great sweep of the coast, the white stretch of sand and the undulating sand dunes for company, Puheke beach is the perfect spot for some crowd-free relaxation. To get there, turn off the State Highway 10 onto Inland Road leading to Maitai Bay and follow the road signs.

Puheke beach, Doubtless Bay

Whale Bay, Matapouri
An exquisite spot for snorkelling, swimming or a day of sunbathing, this white sand beach surrounded by bush is accessed only by foot. Park up in the Matapouri Road car park and follow the track down.

Whale Bay

Smugglers Bay, Bream Head Scenic Reserve, Whangarei Heads
Drive around three hours from Auckland and you’ll reach the Bream Head Scenic Reserve, offering a number of walking tracks. Park at the Urquhart Bay car park and wander across beautiful farmland to reach Smugglers Bay. The white sandy beach is surrounded by lush greenery and is the perfect spot for a picnic and a refreshing dip. Please note, the Bream Head tracks are open and accessible this season but there will be maintenance going on throughout December so take care and expect to see construction materials and workers on or near the tracks.

Smugglers Bay

Waewaetorea Island, Russell
Crystal clear, turquoise waters surround this stunning island, and plenty of captivatingly beautiful, secluded beaches, too — there’s a good chance you’ll have this place to yourself. Waewaetorea Island can only be reached by boat.

Waewaetorea Island, Russell

Paynes Ford Tramline Track Pools, Golden Bay
A beautiful walking trail that follows an old tramline that was once used to transport timber, the Paynes Ford Track is dotted with a number of superb waterholes. An easy hour-long round trip that allows dogs (on leash) you’ll find the entrance at 1886 Takaka Valley Highway, State Highway 60.

Paynes Ford Pools

New Chums Beach, Whangapoua
From the car park at the north end of Whangapoua beach, cross the stream and walk along the rocky shoreline and over the headland to reach New Chums Beach — a stunning secluded treasure in the Coromandel.

The Eel Hole, Murchison, Tasman
Don’t be put off by its nickname; this local waterhole is the perfect summer swimming spot — rope swing and all. To reach it, follow the road north of Murchison town for 1km then turn left onto Riverview Road, continuing past the holiday park until you hit the Buller River. 

The Eel Hole, Murchison, Tasman

Elliot Bay, Bay of Islands
Located just out of the Bay of Islands you’ll find this privately-owned stunning white sand beach with punchy fun waves, ideal for surfers looking to beat the crowds. Head north on Western Hills Drive, State Highway 1, turn right onto Russell Road before turning right onto Rawhiti Road and continuing round to Elliot Bay. Cross the private property to access the beach and pay your way via the honesty box.

Elliot Bay, Bay of Islands

Lonely Bay, Shakespeare Reserve, Whitianga
Located in the Shakespeare Cliff Reserve, a short five-to-ten-minute walk down from the track carpark sits Lonely Bay — a breathtaking spot surrounded by Pohutukawa trees and far more private than it’s often-busy neighbour, Cooks Beach. To get to Lonely Bay, drive to the end of Cooks Beach, turn right up a steep gravel road to Shakespeare Scenic and Historic Reserve and park in the area on the right, near the top of the road.

Lonely Bay


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