Do you ever find it difficult to know which Wellington beach to take your kids to for a fun family day out? Did you know there are 8 excellent family friendly beaches within an hour’s drive of Wellington?
It’s all to easy to keep going to the same places. Maybe it’s convenience, perhaps you don’t want to risk trying somewhere new only for it to fail or be unsuitable for your children.
A trip to the right beach is great fun for the whole family, it’s free so very budget friendly, the only downside is that your kids are likely to end up covered in sand. But it’s well worth it to see them happy, have fun as a family and hopefully wear them out for bedtime!
Wellington is on a peninsula; as you’d expect the capital of New Zealand has plenty of excellent beaches less than an hour away. All of them are great for families, but some suit toddlers better, or are great for older kids to explore such as a bike ride out to Pencarrow head. Here’s 8 excellent family friendly beaches in Wellington that you should visit.
Location: Central Wellington.
Best for: City Sun.
Facilities: Parking on Oriental Parade and Freyburg Pool. Changing facilities and wheelchair beach access at Freyburg.
Oriental Bay is a beautiful golden sand beach in the heart of Wellington. It’s easy to walk, bus or drive to when in Wellington.
You are likely to see plenty of people going for a swim along the shore in the clear, calm water. It’s usually safe for paddling and swimming, and there is a section where lifeguards keep watch from according to their schedule.
In calm weather the Carter Fountain is an impress display, shooting water up to 16m high, and can be seen from miles away.
If you get hungry or thirsty there are several cafes nearby, including the Boat Cafe, which is an actual boat!
Location: Near Wellington Airport.
Best For: Surfing, kite surfing, swimming.
Facilities : Free parking, 2 surf clubs, access ramp at airport side, toilet and changing facilities at Lyall Bay Surf Club, playground.
The expansive beach is the largest in Wellington. and blue sea is perfect for surfers. In Wellington’s famous windy weather Lyall Bay is battered with waves perfect for surfing and other windy beach sports such as kitesurfing.
The golden sandy beach is great for walking, playing, and relaxing on. There’s also a playground to keep children entertained if the beach alone isn’t enough!
If you’re not a surfer sit back and enjoy watching them ride the waves. You can even watch behind glass at the Spruce Goose, one of several lovely cafes in the area and perfect for experiencing Wellington’s trendy cafe culture.
Location: Eastbourne, approximately 25 minutes drive from Wellington.
Best For: Younger children.
Facilities: Kayak hire, beach shower, toilets and change rooms, cafes.
Days Bay has it all. A sandy beach, fantastic views, a pier that those brave enough can jump off into the sea, Kayaks for hire and the family friendly Pavillion Cafe and Williams Park across the road. It is easy to spend all day here. You can also catch the ferry to Maitu/Somes Island, or continue on to Wellington, which takes roughly 20 minutes.
Relax in peace with easy entertainment and everything you need close by, which is excellent, especially when visiting with young children. My boys certainly enjoyed it!
Location : Petone Foreshore, approximately 20 minutes drive or 10 minutes train from Wellington.
Best For: Younger children, strolling along the beach.
Facilities: Free parking, cafes, shops, pubs restaurants 5 mins walk away. Surf club and public toilets.
Petone beach is popular with locals. It’s great for strolling along, with a wide path and sandy/shell covered beach. The long pier usually has several fishermen trying their luck, and great views across wellington Harbor. At the Eastbourne end (furthest from Wellington) there is a playground for young kids. It’s a great place to watch the sunset too.
Only five minutes inland is Jackson Street, which is Petone central. Along this road are plenty of quirky cafes, hip pubs (the Sprig and Fern is my favourite) lovely restaurants and interesting shops.
Location: 30 minutes drive North of Wellington.
Best For: Hiking, history.
Facilities: Cafe, free parking, public toilets.
Makara Beach is a pretty rocky beach at the end of the road. There is little there except a few batches (holiday cottages) and a lovely cafe. It is very pretty, with a rocky beach, good waves, and steep cliffs. take a walk along the Makara walkway to get amazing views over the blue sea. The historic remains Fort Opau, which garrisoned 100 soldiers during WWII and west coast escarpments make it an interesting walk for older children. My toddler mostly managed to walk to the top of the cliff, but the walkway is not pushchair friendly. however, the beach itself, rock pools and cafe offer reasonable entertainment for younger children.
Location : Owhiro bay, 25 minutes drive from central Wellington.
Best For : Walking, 4×4 drive, views of the South Island.
Facilities: Parking and toilets at Te Kopahou Visitor Centre.
Red Rocks is more of a walk, mountain bike track or 4×4 adventure track than a beach. It’s great for meandering along the stoney shore with blue sea on one side and step cliffs on the other. Young kids will love exploring the rock pools and paddling.
If you have a 4×4 vehicle its great for an adventurous and scenic drive. be warned though, there is a ford at the begining, and a steep corner later where it’s easy to become stuck. There is usually someone around who will help tow you out.
On a good day you can see the south island from here, towards Blenheim and Kaikoura.
Location: Pencarrow Head, 1hr drive from central Wellington. You can also reach it via the ferry to Days Bay, or the Valley Flyer bus service.
Best For: History, older kids
Facilities: Free parking, bike hire.
There are actually two lighthouses at Pencarrow head, one on the cliff and one on the beach below. The beach lighthouse was built as sailors often couldn’t see the lights when entering Wellington Harbour due to fog and bad weather. Its is 8 km along a gravel track to reach the light houses, which is best to do via a bike ride. You can also explore nearby Lake Kohangapiripiri.
Round The Bays
Location: Wellington Bays
Best For: Road Trip
Facilties: Free parking along the way, some cafes. public toilets at bays including Oriental Bay, Lyall Bay, and Red Rocks.
While technically a driving tour around several beautiful bays and Wellington’s coastline, this is especially good if you have sleeping children in the car or in bad weather. Beginning at Oriental Bay you simply continue following the coast taking every left turn until the road ends at Red Rocks. The roads are windy and narrow and popular with cyclists, but there’s also lots of places where you can pull over, enjoy the view, and play in the sea. It’s highly likely you will find a bay all to yourself.
Comment below and tell me which of these beaches your family loved and which ones you are excited to visit next!