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Bethells Beach (Te Henga) and Lake Wainamu Guide

Last updated : April 28th, 2020


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Bethells Beach is just one of the many magical places to visit in New Zealand. We love visiting Bethells Beach and have a ton of information to share so you too can enjoy Bethells Beach as much as we do!


Surrounding Auckland are some pretty amazing hidden gems, that in only a short drive, have you feeling lost in nature. Bethells Beach (also known as Te Henga) is one of those special places.

Only a 45-minute drive from the city this beautiful beach is a must-visit for anyone who loves nature.

Bethells Beach stretches almost 2km along New Zealand’s west coast and is made up of black volcanic sand. There is a “Jurassic Park” feeling as you wander the shoreline. And as well as being amazing to see, the scenery also makes for some pretty awesome photos!

Bethells Beach is an off the beaten path beach in New Zealand, meaning that you can often enjoy this magical place without the large crowds that swarm other attractions around New Zealand.

This, along with the stunning landscapes that surround the beach, makes it one of the most beautiful places I have visited near Auckland – and one of the best beaches!

Also located near Bethells Beach is Lake Wainumu (commonly called Bethells Lake), Bethells Cave, and O’Neils Bay. With all these stunning sites to see you certainly won’t get bored on your trip out there.

In fact, in one day at Bethells Beach, you can see all these amazing places – in this guide to Bethells Beach, I’m going to show you how.

The topics in this guide to Bethells Beach and area are:

  • Getting to Bethells Beach
  • Opening hours
  • Facilities at Bethells Beach
  • Safety at Bethells Beach
  • Things to do (including a few nearby hidden gems)
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Getting to Bethells Beach

Walking along Bethells Beach New Zealand
Bethells Beach is huge!
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Getting from Auckland to Bethells Beach is easy for anyone with a car. The short drive is only around 45minutes depending on traffic and is essentially directly west of Auckland. Bethells Beach is also close to Piha Beach so visiting both beaches is a great day trip from Auckland.

The journey is beautiful once you leave the city. Only 30 minutes from Auckland and you’re truly surrounded by nature! You seem to step into another world and this only adds to the experience of visiting Bethells Beach.

Visiting on a tour: If you don’t have a car then you can also visit Bethells Beach on a guided tour from Auckland. This small-group tour will take you to a couple of different west coast beaches as well as waterfalls and other hidden gems that even I haven’t found!


Bethells Beach Opening Hours

Bethells beach opening ours sign

Bethells Beach is open from 7 am to 9:30 pm between Labour day (mid-October) and Easter (mid-April). During the winter months, it is open from 7 am to 7 pm.

If you are parked in the carpark after it closes and the gates are locked, you will have to pay for the ranger to come out and unlock the gate. So, be sure the leave on time!


Bethells Beach Facilities

Sunset at bethells Beach, New Zealand
Me and Bailey love spending sunsets at Bethells Beach

Parking

There is one large carpark at the entrance to Bethells Beach that has room for around 50 cars. This carpark is unsealed and unmarked. Parking is free!

Food

Bethells Beach is quite a remote place and there is only one small café located in the car park. This small shop sells things like water, coffee, and small meals. It is, however, a food truck, so at times during the week when visitor numbers are low, it may not be there.

The small shop at Bethells Beach
This is the only shop at Bethells Beach

Toilets

There are toilets located at the carpark as well as an outdoor shower for washing off after a swim. These are free of charge.

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Safety on Bethells Beach

A blue bottle stinger at Bethells Beach
Watch out for these little guys!

Swimming

Bethells Beach is located on New Zealand’s west coast and is subjected to heavy surf. Swimming at the beach could be dangerous for those who can’t swim that well. Checking the swell report is also a good idea as some days are worse than others.

There is a lifeguard tower on the beach so please check if there is a lifeguard on duty before swimming.

Other hazards

During my visit to Bethells Beach, I noticed that a few Blue Bottles (a type of stinger jellyfish) had been left behind from high tide along the sand. Blue Bottles are in no way deadly, but they do leave a nasty sting behind if you touch them.

Walking along the beach barefoot is nice, but please, watch out for stingers! If you do get stung, vinegar is a great way to reduce the pain. These guys are very common where I grew up so I know all about their sting!

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Things to do at Bethells Beach (Te Henga)

1. Explore Bethells Beach

Walking along the north side of Bethells Beach
Walking towards the north side of Bethells Beach

Of course, the reason you came was to see Bethells Beach. Despite the other amazing things to see near the beach, just coming to see Bethells Beach alone will be an amazing trip!

The beach stretches almost 2km and with few visitors, it’s easy to find a place to relax to yourself. I found that just taking in the stunning landscapes was worth the trip!

Make sure you explore the whole beach by walking the entire distance, it may be far but it’s totally worth it!

2. Wander through the Bethells Beach Cave

Sitting in the Bethells Beach Cave
Enjoying a cold beer in the Bethells beach Cave

At the South end of Bethells Beach (turning left once you reach the water) is a large cave. During low tide, the cave can be explored.

This large cave is only 30-40 meters deep and has a large opening so plenty of light can get in. From the inside, you have the perfect natures window to Bethells Beach and the surrounding landscape.

This cave is easily missed by those who don’t walk the entire beach but is definitely a highlight and worth the walk!

To check tide times at Bethells, click here!

3. Hike to O’Neils Bay

O'neils Bay near Bethells Beach
O’Neil’s Bay near Bethells Beach

Although Bethells Beach gets large surf, the most popular place among surfers is the nearby O’Neils Bay. This bay is only a short walk from Bethells Beach and is an awesome place to sit back and watch the surfers in action.

Along the way to the bay, there are a few amazing photos opportunities!

Getting to O’Neils Bay is easy. Simply walk to your right once you reach Bethells Beach. There you will need to walk through a small stream that runs into the ocean. This is much easier during low tide and can be more dangerous during high tide.

Once you have crossed the stream, walk along the beach until the end. From there, follow the path over the sand dune to O’Neils Bay! It’s easy to find and you can just follow the footprints!

4. Visit Lake Wainamu and the Bethells Beach Sand Dunes

Bethells beach sand dunes
Bethells beach sand dunes

No trip to Bethells Beach would be complete without checking out Lake Wainamu (Bethells Lake as its commonly referred to) and to the sand dunes that surround it.

The hike to the lake is around 2km and should take around 30 minutes one way. If you’re feeling even more adventurous you can hike around the lake.

The walk to Lake Wainamu takes you along some amazing volcanic sand dunes, unlike anything I had seen before. There are a few warning signs about entering the dunes, however, if you’re up to it, it is totally worth venturing in.

The sand dunes are massive and once at the end, you are met with a steep drop to a small creek that feeds into Lake Wainamu.

To get to the start of the Lake Wainamu trail you must drive 1km back the way you came and find the parking on Bethells Road. This parking lot is on the last corner on your way to Bethells Beach and can easily be found on the app called Maps.me (a great travel app!)

From the carpark, just follow the clearly marked trail along the creek. Once you reach the sand dunes the track stays left, however, if you want to explore the dunes then keep walking straight!

Bathells beach sand dunes
Bathells beach sand dunes

If you are looking to spend more time at Bethells Beach and spend a couple of nights, consider booking the beautiful Bethells Beach Cottages, or an AirBnB!

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Bethells Beach FAQs

How long is Bethells Beach?

Bethells Beach is approximately two kilometers long and stretches along New Zealand’s west coast.

How far is Bethells Beach from Auckland?

About a 45 minutes drive without traffic (43 kilometers.)

Is it safe to swim at Bethells Beach?

Currents and waves can be strong at Bethells Beach, but if you are an experienced swimmer and swim between the flags, you should be just fine!

What is there to do at Bethells Beach?

1. Relax at the beach
2. Explore Bethells Cave
3. Hike to O’Neils Bay
4. Visit Lake Wainamu and the sand dunes


Before you go…

Bethells Beach is for sure worth checking out. And along with the other amazing things to see near the beach, it really makes for a great day out! Unlike Piha Beach to the south, it is much more personal and is great for those wanting to get away!

I hope you found this guide to Bethells Beach helpful! If you have any questions or feedback please leave a comment below and I will get back to you!

Heading somewhere else? Check out our other blogs from around New Zealand here! Otherwise, check out a few other blogs from around Betheths Beach and Auckland below!

Things to do in Auckland

Guide to visiting Muriwai Beach

Waipu Caves – New Zealand’s best free glow worm cave

-Daniel

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Guide to visiting Bethells Beach New Zealand

About the Author - destinationlesstravel

We are Dan and Bailey, just your typical thrill-seeking travelers! You will likely find us hiking, scuba diving, catching public transport, or just drinking beer at a hostel.

2 Replies to “Bethells Beach (Te Henga) and Lake Wainamu Guide”

  • Hi, my fiance and I will be sand dune surfing at the beginning of April. Any suggestions on where we can rent sand boards?

    • Hey Peter,

      I am not too sure where you can rent sandboards from and after some searching, it doesn’t appear there are any.

      I would try the New Zealand backpacker groups on Facebook you can get some great info from there!

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful!

      Thanks
      Daniel

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