With miles of coastline and many lovely beaches and secluded bays, it's possible to find a private spot for nude sunbathing or swimming in most parts of Northland, New Zealand. Although there are no official nude beaches, a number have been designated as places "where nudity is known to occur." Here are some of best spots to try naturism, listed from north to south.
Be aware that nudity on a beach is not illegal, but "intending to be offensive" is. Avoid crowded beaches and when in doubt stay a respectable distance from clothed beachgoers. Kiwis are pretty tolerant as long as you are not blatant about it.
Tapotupotu is a tiny beach is just to the south of Cape Reinga, and although it is a popular spot for tour buses, it's also known as a private spot for tourists to bare it all. There is a campground at the southern end (to the right), which fronts the main part of the beach and allows guests to stay as long as they'd like on the waterfront, but naturists use the other end of the beach to sunbathe nude. You can get to the nude portion if you walk left from the car park as far as you can go, but it is best avoided at the height of summer, however, when the entire beach will be crowded and nude sunbathing is discouraged.
Henderson Bay is a large and somewhat windswept beach to the north of Houhora on the way to Cape Reinga. There is usually plenty of room here and relatively few people, making it a great, secluded spot to sunbathe in the nude. However, you should also be aware that there are often four-wheel drive vehicles on the beach as it's a popular spot for ATV recreation. Just be sure to clearly mark off where you are when you set up your beach blanket and umbrella and your stuff should be fine.
Ninety Mile Beach
The entire stretch of Ninety Mile Beach is very suitable for a nude swim. Sunbathing is rather more of an issue, however, as the beach is an official public road and there will often be vehicles driving past. Several buses use the beach daily on their tour to and from Cape Reinga, but the quietest spots are to the south of Waipapakauri and to the north of the Te Paki sand dunes as these are the entry and departure points for the coach tours.
The beautiful beach at Maitai Bay, one of the finest beaches in Northland, is at the far end of the Karikari Peninsula. Although it's quite a drive to get to, it is well worth it. There are two spots to head to if you want to shed your clothes: From the car park, the beach on the right attracts fewer people, and you can access it by walking to the far end of the horseshoe-shaped beach. The other place is at the northern end of the left-hand beach, which is Maitai Bay itself. This is reached by a short walk from the car park and is also the more popular of the two beaches, so you'll have to walk to the far end to find naked sunbathing.
Also known as Donkey Bay, Waitata Bay is the closest to an official naturist beach in Northland and is about two kilometers from Russell in the Bay of Islands. Waitata Bay, though not expressly nudist, is home to one of the biggest gatherings of naturists in the country, and there is also a naturist accommodation known as the Waitata Bay Naturist Retreat close by.
Ocean Beach, Whangarei Heads
Out on the coast from Whangarei City is Ocean Beach, which is a wonderful place to go if you want to be relatively alone while you sunbathe in the nude. Although the whole beach is clothing-optional, the popular nude area is to the left of the main section of the beach by the car park. To get there, turn left and head north past a couple of bays, and you'll know you've arrived when you see fewer people except for the occasional fisherman.
Smugglers Cove is a popular destination for nudists because it's a bit harder to find than others on this list. This beach can be found by driving to Urquhart Bay on the northern side of the entrance to Whangarei Harbor; then you'll take a short walk over farmland that leads to this lovely bay. The southern end (to the right) is the more secluded, but there will often be no one on the entire length of this beach, particularly on weekdays.
Uretiti is the best-known and most accessible nude beach in Northland and one of the most popular in New Zealand. It is close to the main highway, just to the north of Waipu and about 40 kilometers south of Whangarei. The beach itself is part of the long sweep of Bream Bay, from Marsden Point at the entrance to Whangarei Harbor to Langs Beach.
There is a DOC campsite at the entrance to the beach. The accepted clothing optional section of the beach is reached by walking to the right for a couple of hundred meters. With views directly out to the Hen and Chicken Islands and the Whangarei Heads in the distance, this is a lovely place to enjoy on a summer's day.