Of the 64 official beaches in the Auckland region, several of the best are along the east coast of the North Shore. Starting at Devonport and stretching north along the coast to Long Bay, most are backed by Auckland's sprawling suburbia. This area is also called the East Coast Bays. Here is a list of the best of the major North Shore beaches, from south to north. In addition to getting to the beaches by car, there is an attractive coastal walk from one end to the other. Although broken in places by the road, most of it takes you along clifftops or the beaches themselves. The entire walk is 23 kilometers (14 miles) and takes around 7 hours to complete. The walk is a part of the Te Araroa Trail, which covers the total length of New Zealand.
Between the beaches, the coastline is rocky with sandstone cliffs that are steep in parts. In most places, it's possible to walk between the beaches at low tide.
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Cheltenham Beach in Devonport
Cheltenham Beach is the closest beach to Devonport and Auckland City. Devonport itself is a charming village and is best reached by a short (about 12 minutes) ferry ride (passenger only; no vehicles) from downtown Auckland. The beach itself is only a mile away from the ferry terminal so it is an easy walk. On the way past you will notice some beautiful Victorian villas, most of which have been restored.
The sandy beach is lovely and safe - ideal for families. It is backed by pretty pohutukawa trees which provide shade. At the southern end of the beach are the walking tracks and lookouts of North Head, which give great views of Auckland, Rangitoto Island, and the Hauraki Gulf.
Facilities: Grass reserve, toilets
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Narrow Neck Beach
Despite the name, this is another long beach, also safe and therefore popular with families.
Facilities: Grass reserve, toilets, children's playground, barbecues
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The suburb of Takapuna is the largest beachside suburb on the North Shore, with a number of excellent cafes and restaurants. There is a large boat ramp area at the northern end and ample room for parking all along the length of the beach.
Facilities: Grass reserve, toilets and changing rooms, boat ramp, children's playground. Shops and cafes nearby.
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Smaller than Takapuna, Milford is one of Auckland's most expensive suburbs and much of the beach is backed by multi-million-dollar homes. There is access from two streets at the southern end and a carpark at the northern end. Also at the northern end, behind the beach, there is a small boat marina.
Facilities: Grass reserve, toiletsContinue to 5 of 12 below.
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This is a small and quiet beach, usually visited only by the locals. Swimming is safe and sheltered. With a small playground, it's another popular beach for families with children.
Facilities: Boat ramp, toilets, children's playground
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Like Castor Bay, this is a small beach frequented by locals. The sand is firm enough for small boats to be launched from the beach.
Facilities: Toilets, children's playground. Shops are close by.
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Another excellent swimming beach, one of the nicest things about Mairangi Bay is the small shopping village just a few meters away. It contains one of Auckland's best cafes, Paper Moon, and also one of the best fruit and vegetable stores in Auckland.
Facilities: Grass reserve, toilets, children's playground. Shops are close by.
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There is a small wharf here from which to enjoy a spot of fishing. The walkway at the northern end leads up and along the clifftops, giving some great views of the North Shore coastline. The beach is sandy and good for swimming or sunbathing.
At the other end of the beach is the Murrays Bay Sailing Club, where many of New Zealand's Olympic and World champion sailors started out.
Facilities: Grass reserve, toilets.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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This is a very small beach, but it offers good swimming. Most of the beach is backed by a grassed area.
Facilities: Grass reserve, toilets
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Browns Bay is the largest shopping and business district in the bays north of Takapuna. A number of restaurants and cafes look directly out to the beach. It's another good beach for swimming and other water sports, including water skiing and jet skiing.
Facilities: Grass reserve, children's playground, skateboard ramp, toilets and changing rooms, boat ramp
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Waiake Beach (Torbay)
This small beach backs onto Torbay, the northernmost suburb of the East Coast Bays. It's a small sandy beach, frequented mainly by local residents.
Facilities: Grass reserve, toilets, changing rooms, children's playground
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Long Bay Regional Park
Long Bay is one of Auckland's best and most popular beaches. As the name implies, it is the longest beach on the North Shore and has a large public reserve backing the entire length of the beach. This is extremely popular during summer and can be very crowded, especially on the weekends.
Further north from Long Bay are two secluded bays, accessible only on foot. The further of these, Pohutukawa Bay, is one of Auckland's most popular nude beaches.
Facilities: Grass reserve, toilets and changing rooms, barbecues, picnic sites, children's playground
(Note: to use the barbeques and picnic sites, it is recommended to book in advance, especially during the summer. Bookings can be made through the Auckland Regional Council, phone 09 366 2000.)