Located 30 kilometres north-west of Auckland at the mouth of the Waitakere River, Bethells Beach, or Te Henga to give it its Maori name, offers a vast, wild landscape teeming with birdlife and tramping trails.

Black sand, high surf, sand dunes and bushland provide the perfect environment for the proliferation of birdlife. In fact, the area is so well-suited to our feathered friends that there is an ongoing breeding programme here involving the New Zealand dotterel – a threatened species of bird which nests in the dunes above the waterline. Bethells Beach is now one of the rare places this bird can be seen in the natural environment.

However, these are not the only birds in the area; there's actually a wealth of birdlife that call Te Henga home, including harriers and petrels. Sometimes blue penguins even put in an appearance on the beach at night time.

While the beach is quite an isolated location nowadays, there is plentiful evidence to suggest that humans have lived at Bethells Beach, and made use of its significant attributes, for over 1,000 years. Such evidence includes cave shelters and an inland "pa" (or fortified village) used for crop storage.

While the water may seem appealing, particularly on a fine day, it's important to note that swimming and surfing conditions along the beach can be dangerous, with frequent riptides. On the other hand, this is a great spot for tramping at any time of year. So, bring a picnic and hit the trail to Lake Wainamu or Waitohi Falls. The trails here also form part of the well-known Hillary Trail covering 75 kilometres of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.

In good weather, there's often a food truck at the beach, but it's best to bring your own supplies as, once you get here, it's quite a journey to get anywhere else. To reach Bethells Beach, you'll need to rent a car. Fortunately, there's more than enough free parking at the beach, mostly behind the dunes.

Known for

Sea, Lakes and Relaxing

Top hotels in Bethells Beach

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Bethells Beach Cottages
Bethells Beach Cottages
4 out of 5
267 Bethells Road, Bethells Beach
NZ$310/night
20 Aug. - 21 Aug.
4.5/5Wonderful! (24 reviews)
Return a must!

"A wonderful spot, warm hosts and spectacular view. Great place to relax and renew."…"

Reviewed on 8 Apr. 2019

Bethells Beach Cottages
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Bush Sand and Sea
3.5 out of 5
26 Te Aute Ridge, Henderson. R.D.1, Bethells Beach, Auckland
5/5Exceptional! (11 reviews)

"My husband and I loved staying here!!! The host, Lynn, was very friendly Be helpful! The place felt like we were at home and was very comfortable! We loved the location because it was so close to the beach! We had a great time having dinner & listening to music at Bethel's Cafe and then watched the ..."…"

Reviewed on 14 Dec. 2018

Bush Sand and Sea
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Naumi Auckland Airport
4.5 out of 5
153 Kirkbride Road, Mangere, Auckland
NZ$135/night
8 Sep. - 9 Sep.
4.3/5Excellent! (1,193 reviews)

"Great Hotel , staff are very polite and well mannered very helpful and prompt. Already looking forward to our next stay at Naumi."…"

Reviewed on 17 Aug. 2019

Naumi Auckland Airport

Popular activities in Bethells Beach

Sky Tower
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Sky Tower

Ascend the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand for stunning views over Auckland. Dine in the rotating restaurant or take a dive from a height of 194 metres.

Mt. Eden Domain
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Mt. Eden Domain

Pull on your walking boots and follow a trail that takes in a volcanic crater, a 19th-century prison and a quirky, creative village.

Auckland Zoo
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Auckland Zoo

Just eight minutes from Auckland city centre white rhinos and a pride of lions roam. Wander safely and at your leisure amid tigers and elephants at Auckland Zoo.

Piha Beach
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Piha Beach

Take to the black sand and rolling surf of Piha Beach for epic surfing and serene rainforest walks.

Auckland Domain
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Auckland Domain

Once the site of an active volcano, Auckland Domain is now home to a wealth of exotic plantlife, sculpture and a wide-ranging museum.

Auckland War Memorial Museum
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Auckland War Memorial Museum

Despite what you might think, there's more to this museum than guns and warplanes (though those are pretty impressive too).

Top activities in Bethells Beach

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
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Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

NZ$76

Step into the world of Middle-earth, the Shire, and Hobbiton as you head to the movie set where acclaimed director Peter Jackson brought J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved books to life. Find out how this once-sleepy sheep farm was turned into a movie set and take an up-close look at real sets and props.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves Boat Tour
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Waitomo Glowworm Caves Boat Tour

NZ$53

Venture inside the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and enter a magical world shimmering with thousands of tiny glowworms. After discovering the incredible acoustic properties of the chamber known as the Cathedral, board a boat and glide beneath a dazzling ceiling illuminated by living lights.

24hr Hop on Hop Off Auckland
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24hr Hop on Hop Off Auckland

NZ$25

Explore Auckland in a day at your own leisure with a 24-hour hop on hop off pass. Climb aboard your Auckland sightseeing bus, cruising through downtown districts and quaint suburbs as you listen to informative commentary about Auckland history and culture from your knowledgeable driver guide.

Full-Day Hobbiton Shire Movie Set Tour from Auckland
Image for Full-Day Hobbiton Shire Movie Set Tour from Auckland

Full-Day Hobbiton Shire Movie Set Tour from Auckland

NZ$305

A fantastical world of wonder awaits at the filming site of HobbitonTM Shire. Nestled within the verdant farmland south of Auckland, this authentic recreation of Bilbo Baggins' Middle Earth village immerses you in all the magic and adventure of the Lord of the Rings.

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium Tickets
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SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium Tickets

NZ$37

Connect with the underwater world at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium featuring 13-themed zones, 30 live animal displays, and more than 80 marine species. Designed by renowned diver and all-around adventurer, Kelly Tarlton.

Sky Tower Observation Admission Tickets
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Sky Tower Observation Admission Tickets

NZ$32

The Sky Tower has stood tall at 328 meters as an icon of Auckland's sky line for 20 years. It's an exciting hub of adrenaline activities, superb dining and breathtaking views from three observation levels. If you're visiting Auckland for just one day, then a trip up the Sky Tower is a must.