Crowd-funded New Zealand beach Awaroa makes list of world’s best

Publish Date
Wednesday, 6 March 2024, 1:46PM
Awaroa Beach at the end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track has been named one of the world's best. Photo / Oliver Weber

Awaroa Beach at the end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track has been named one of the world's best. Photo / Oliver Weber

A beach which was bought by locals to save it from development has been named one of the world’s finest sandy escapes, appearing in the top 10 of Conde Nast Traveller’s 34 best beaches in the world.

Awaroa Beach at the top of Abel Tasman National Park inspired a $2 million Givealittle page in 2016 after locals saw the private beach was up for sale.

It was gifted to the Department of Conservation after a successful bid by almost 40,000 people to make it public land.

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Awaroa became known locally as the “People’s Beach”, and it’s now known as one of the world’s finest, according to the United States website’s hunt for the world’s best coastlines.

Conde Nast’s Lizzie Pook said the list was about finding beaches that were a little bit off the beaten track - beyond the “typical sandy spots dotted with sun umbrellas and gaggles of tourists”.

And the beach, close to the northern arm of the Abel Tasman coastal track Great Walk is far from your average strand.

“Most visitors come here either by water – swooshing in on kayaks or small boats,” says the travel website which praises the beauty of the surrounding “native bush and seas that sparkle like freshly blown glass”.

Awaroa was in good company in a list topped by Queensland’s Palm Cove Beach, north of Cairns; Breckon cove on Scotland’s outer Shetland Islands; and Hawaii’s Honopu Beach, on Kauai, which is only reachable by small boat.

Duane Major and Adam Gardner join then-minister Nicky Wagner and Peg Whitton for iwi to celebrate Awaroa Beach becoming public land in 2016. Photo / DoC

The list of 34 beaches which praised coastal areas with “adventure and intrigue” couldn’t help but include the Kiwi crowd-funded beach.

According to the Givealittle page, which is still one of the website’s biggest crowdraisers, it started as a joke one summer by Adam Gardner and Duane Major when they saw the plot was for sale.

Each said if they had a cool $2 million lying about they would buy Awaroa as a “Christmas present” for New Zealand.

“It all started when a couple of brothers-in-law had some lively Christmas Day banter about a bunch of things on the boil in New Zealand,” said the organisers.

The 7ha beach was officially added to the national park on July 10, 2016, with a Government contribution of $350,000 and a $250,000 donation from the Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust. This topped up the Givealittle page to well over $2.2m securing the “People’s Beach” for the public.

The world’s 34 best beaches according to Conde Nast Traveller:

  1. Palm Cove Beach, Australia
  2. Honopu Beach, Kauai, US
  3. Breckon, Shetland Islands, Scotland
  4. Wategos Beach, Australia
  5. Ora Beach, Indonesia
  6. Mona Vale Beach, Australia
  7. Dune du Pilat, France
  8. Noosa Beach, Australia
  9. Awaroa, South Island, New Zealand
  10. Die Plaat, Walker Bay Nature Reserve, South Africa
  11. Grand Anse Beach, Grenada
  12. Keem Bay, Achill Island, Ireland
  13. Fakarava, French Polynesia
  14. Marathonisi, Zakynthos, Greece
  15. Praia do Sancho, Brazil
  16. Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island, Canada
  17. Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles
  18. Seagrass Bay, Laucala Island, Fiji
  19. Hidden Beach, Palawan, Philippines
  20. Ile aux Cerfs, Mauritius
  21. Tortuga Bay Beach, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
  22. Turquoise Bay, Exmouth, Australia
  23. Pink Sand Beach, Barbuda
  24. Playa Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
  25. Gantheaume Point, Broome, Western Australia
  26. Dolfynstrand Beach, Namibia
  27. Ocracoke Island Lifeguarded Beach, North Carolina
  28. Rauoasandur Beach, Iceland
  29. Jibei Island Beach, Taiwan
  30. Uig Sands, Isle of Lewis, Scotland
  31. Benguerra Island, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
  32. Al Mughsail, Salalah, Oman
  33. Playa Paraiso, Cayo Largo del Sur, Cuba
  34. Luskentyre Beach, Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

This article was first published by the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.

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