Inspiring ideas for New Zealand vacation planning - Bethells Beach.

Since New Zealand re-opened their borders to US visitors, starting May 2022, interest in the destination has returned to pre-Covid numbers. In this series of blogs, we look beyond the iconic favorite destinations, to lesser known places that are often the highlight of a New Zealand vacation.Today, Bethell's Beach.

Bethells Beach in the North Island, just a 45-minute drive from Auckland.

This (and New Zealand's Southern Alps) is where Taylor Swift recorded the video for her 2016 hit “Out of The Woods”

She described Bethells Beach as "the most beautiful beach I've ever been on in my life". 

In a behind-the-scenes video about her time spent filming here Swift called the shoot "so surreal all of us are just freaking out over it". 

This same stretch of dramatic coastline is also where much of the Oscar winning movie “The Piano” was filmed in 1993.

From the beach there's an easy 30-minute walk to the massive sand dunes that are fronted by beautiful Lake Wainamu and waterfalls. 

There are also some interesting caves to explore and if you possibly can, stay still dusk to enjoy the spectacular sunsets.

As for the beach itself, there's an ever-present danger of rips and wild surf, so swimming is forbidden, except where lifeguards are on duty.


Looking south, Bethells Beach.


Sand Dunes at Bethells Beach.


Beachside Caves


Lake Wainamu Waterfall


'The Piano' - 1993 - with Holly Hunter and a young Anna Paquin.


Beautiful O'Neill Bay.

For a genuine off-the-beaten-trail experience, Bethells Beach is also the starting point for one of New Zealand's most dramatic and most scenic cliff top trails. It's called the 'Te Henga Walkway' and you can walk a part of this track between Bethells Beach and O'Neill Bay to the north. You'll need to be moderately fit to complete the 3-mile round-trip trail.


You'll need an early start from the city as the the Te Henga Walkway walk will add over an hour to your day.


Coastal Wilderness.


There's only one way to reach O'Neills Bay - by walking the Te Henga Walkway!


A stunning West Coast panorama on the Te Henga Walkway.


With my friend Terry Prince, overlooking Bethells Beach in 2014 when we walked the Hillary Trail.

Te Henga Walkway Description

This is an excerpt of the trail description provided by the New Zealand government Department of Conservation.

"The track follows coastal cliffs and is rutted and steep in sections. It becomes slippery after periods of rain.

From Bethells Road the Te Henga Walkway crosses the Waitakere River by footbridge, rising along a graded section, to superb views of lagoons, dunes and the west coast surf down to O’Neill's Bay. 

Know before you go

Track crosses private land. Keep to the track and be careful around stock.


Sunset at Bethells Beach with the lifeguard tower in the foreground.

Ask us about including this quiet corner of New Zealand into your New Zealand itinerary.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Apr 28, 2020