Surfers surfing at the North Mole

Whanganui boasts a range of beaches, from classic untamed west coast black-sand beaches to those perfect for families, swimming and surfing.

Castlecliff Beach

A short drive from the city centre (just over 10 minutes), this beach is popular for swimming and surfing and is patrolled by lifeguards during summer. There is also a playground and skate park, making it ideal for families. It is also a popular fishing spot.

Kai Iwi Beach (Mowhanau)

A beach for all the family offering swimming, fishing, playground, wood-burning barbecues and a great place for camping. Kai Iwi beach is reached via Rapanui Road, 14km west of Whanganui. It is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer. Please keep well clear of the cliffs along the beach as they are prone to slipping.

South Beach

Adjacent to the Whanganui Airport, as soon as the tide goes out South Beach becomes a 20km stretch of sand, excellent for a day’s picnic, surfing or fishing. A wild and untamed beach, there is a car parking area and a short walk to the beach, but for full beach access a 4X4 is advised. Take care at all times and watch the tides as South Beach is great fun but an unpatrolled area.

Ototoka Beach

A little further north of Kai Iwi Beach, near Pākaraka, Ototoka Beach is a classic out-of-the-way New Zealand beach. Located at the end of Ototoka Beach Road, this beach is a popular spot for swimming and fishing. The path from the car park descends past the Ototoka pool and waterfall down to the beach below. The cliffs surrounding Ototoka Beach are also well-known for fossil hunting, with marine fossils over 1.5 million years old to be found here.

Beach safety

As beautiful as our beaches may appear, they can also be dangerous and rough at times.

  • Swim only at life-guard patrolled beaches (red and yellow flags will be visible).
  • Always swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Never swim alone or leave children unattended.

Summer swim spot monitoring

Each year from 1 November to 30 April, Horizons Regional Council monitors the water quality from around 80 swim spots across the Manawatū-Whanganui region. The samples are tested at an independent laboratory with results uploaded weekly. Check the results here.