When someone says 'beach holiday', New Zealand probably isn't the first place that springs to mind. It should be though - not only does the North Island stay pretty warm all year round, but it also boasts countless stunning beaches that'll have you shouting 'KIDS, WE'RE MOVING TO NZ', despite the fact you don't even have kids.
There's something for everyone too: silky soft sand for those who love lounging about with a good book, calm, clear waters for those who want to take a relaxing dip, and perfect surfing waves for those who are all about adventure.
Worried about fitting it all in? Don't be - the beauty of New Zealand is that everything is so close together - you could visit all of the beaches below in one week long holiday. Dreeeamy.
Here's 9 of our fave North Island beaches:
Ninety Mile Beach: Cape Reinga
Ninety Mile Beach is actually around 64 miles (\_(ツ)_/¯), but those 64 miles are pure heaven. Forget plonking yourself down in the middle of this one though - it's actually part of the official highway system, and racing through the surf in a dune buggy. Book with Ultimate Sand Safaris, who will also take you sand boarding down the huge dunes that border the beach.
Mount Maunganui: Bay Of Plenty
Overlooked by a (dormant!) volcano, this is a beauty of a beach. White sand, crystal clear waters and an abundance of marine life combine to make it a must-visit destination. It's also known as the surfing mecca of New Zealand, if catching some waves is your kinda thang.
Piha Beach, West Auckland
Another prime surfing spot, Piha features sparking and oh-so-soft black sand, set against a dramatic cliff backdrop. It's also only a couple of hours drive from the buzzing city hub of Auckland - ideal.
Urupukapuka Island, Northland
Wanna fall in love with New Zealand? Kayak around Urupukapuka Island, and it'll have your heart forever. The clearest waters you've ever seen are frequented by dolphins - if you're lucky they'll swim so close you can reach down and touch them.
Hot Water Beach, Coromandel
THIS IS THE COOLEST (BUT ACTUALLY HOTTEST) BEACH EVER. Why? Because there's a load of geothermal water just under the first layer of sand, meaning you can dig yourself an actual jacuzzi. Winter beachin' has never been so fun.
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula
Accessible only on foot, boat or kayak, Cathedral Cove is like something out of a film. Literally - the cave and beach was used as the tunnel through which the Pevensie children first re-enter Narnia in the movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Explore the rock formations by kayak, or hang out on the silky soft sand before enjoying a dip in the calm waters.
Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island
It's essential that you visit Waiheke Island at some point in your life. Endless wineries aside, it's also a beach lover's dream - with this stunning stretch of sand the perfect spot for swimming/daydreaming about moving to Waiheke (which is only a 45 minute ferry ride from Auckland!).
Mission Bay, Auckland
A seaside suburb of Auckland city, Mission Bay is wide, white, and has a stunning view of Rangitoto Island. Kayak across the bay with Auckland Sea Safaris and watch the sunset from the top of its volcano, before paddling back in the dark (read more about that here - we did it and it was GREAT).
Bream Bay, Northland
Can anybody say idyllic? Situated at the southern end of Whangarei, Bream Bay is all about long swathes of perfect white sand and sparkling waters. Watching the sunset from One Tree Point is a must, too.
Feeling the pull of NZ? STA Travel offers a 24-day New Zealand Encompassed package from £2229 per person including activities, accommodation, meals, a local guide and all transport between destinations and to/from activities.
Add on return economy flights from London Heathrow from just £575 per person. The tour starts in Auckland and finishes in Wellington.
Book now and travel before 30 June or between 07 November and 08 December 2016. To book please visit www.statravel.com, call 0800 988 0390 or visit one of the STA Travel stores.
You should also visit newzealand.com for loads more info and inspiration.