New Brighton Beach

Surf, spot birdlife, walk across wild sand dunes and shop for handmade goods at a weekly market at this sandy beach and coastal suburb.

New Brighton Beach is a great coastal retreat to visit when holidaying in Christchurch. The beach boasts about 18 kilometres (11 miles) of golden sand, stretching from the mouth of the Waimakariri River to South Spit. Activities at New Brighton Beach range from surfing in rolling waves to wildlife spotting and walking amid untamed landscapes. Find accommodation options, cafés, restaurants and a weekly market at the village adjoining the beach.

The beach is a popular summer destination for Christchurch’s residents. Bathers come to swim in the cool waters of the South Pacific Ocean while surfers make the most of the clean, rolling waves. Beachgoers congregate around New Brighton Pier. Stroll to the end of the pier to enjoy uninterrupted views of the coastline and watch as fishermen wait patiently for a catch.

For a more secluded beach experience, walk in either direction from the pier to discover quiet areas. Enjoy the opportunity to sit unaccompanied amid the lap of nature, take a nap on the soft sand or sit and read a book. Pristine coastal forests and sand dunes frame the beach’s northern reaches. Explore these areas as you follow trails on foot or by bike.

Be sure to visit South Spit, a reserve set on a peninsula at the beach’s southernmost point. Come between August and March for the chance to see seabirds such as dotterels, godwits, gulls and pied stilts. Gaze across the estuary to see Summer Beach and look inland to make out the peaks of New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

In the village of New Brighton, casual dining options, fast-food joints and surf shops line the Brighton Mall commercial zone. On Saturday morning, go to the New Brighton’s Seaside Market, held in the mall’s pedestrian-only section. Dine at food trucks and browse stalls offering fresh produce, handicrafts and quirky fashions, among other items.

New Brighton Beach is just a 20-minute drive from Christchurch’s city centre and easy to reach via public buses or rented bike. Free parking is available on Marine Road, which runs parallel to the beach. In January, hundreds of colourful kites fill the sky for the beach’s annual Kite Day.