The Guest Edit: SWMR's Sophie Wardrop Shares Her Favourite Swimming Spots Around the North Island
Bookmark this guide for your day trips, road trips and out-of-town stints this summer.
October 06, 2022
In The Guest Edit, we hand the reins over to some of the most interesting, tasteful and (or) entertaining people in Australia and New Zealand. For this instalment, we've enlisted SWMR founder Sophie Wardrop to share her favourite spots to cool off around the North Island – bookmark for day trips, road trips and out-of-town stints this summer.
CP: With a degree in sports science and a background in competitive swimming, Sophie Wardrop has tried and tested many swimwear brands — as well as beaches around Aotearoa. Sick of choosing between a cute bikini and her training togs before heading to the beach, Wardrop developed SWMR — think groovy rash tops and supportive swimmers in cute colours and flattering fits. So yeah, she knows a thing or two about swimming and the best spots to do it in.
Ahead of the summer season, Wardrop has put together her list of top beaches around the North Island, both near and far.
KOHIMARAMA BEACH, TAMAKI MAKARAU
I live in Kohimarama and it's where SWMR all started. On a warm day, I'll begin with a coffee from the local café and a swim and I head straight back there after work. This is the sort of lifestyle that inspired my swimwear. With SWMR I set out to create swimwear that functions in the water but still looks good on the sand and everywhere else. There's a cool community vibe at Kohi and it feels really wholesome; people walk their dogs at sunrise and there will always be someone in the brine— regardless of the temperature.
WAIHI BEACH, BAY OF PLENTY
My parents live at Waihi Beach and I love going to visit. In addition to the long stretch of the main beach, the hike out to Orokawa Bay is stunning. I like to head down to Anzac Bay or across the hill to the usually deserted Shelly Bay when I feel like a break from the waves. I love that the town isn't too built-up, everyone knows each other, and you instantly feel like you're on holiday when you drive over the hill from Auckland.
TE ARAI, EAST COAST
The East Coast beaches north of Auckland are my pick for an easy day trip. I'm a horrible surfer but my friend and I head north most Sundays in the summer. We bring our boards with us and I usually spend the day in the white water. Of the beaches in the area, we hit Forestry nine times out of 10. The trees along the foreshore have been removed recently, which is a shame. It's still a beautiful beach but it used to be really special.
HATAITAI BEACH, PONEKE
It's not the obvious choice for a Wellington city beach and the sliver of pebbly shore is absolutely tiny so you need to be strategic to nab a spot on a hot day. But I adore the picturesque boat sheds that line one side of the road, with the homes of Hataitai dotting the hill on the other side. The boats in the harbour make great markers for swimming out to, and the sunrise over the Miramar Peninsula opposite can be incredible. I shot the first SWMR campaign remotely during Auckland's lockdown in 2021 and I knew Hataitai Beach would be perfect because there are so many cool spots.
DOUBTLESS BAY AND KARIKARI PENINSULA, NORTHLAND
My friend and I hired a van a couple of summers ago and did a road trip through the Northland region. I hadn't spent much time up there previously, as it's a bit of a hike from Auckland, but I found it has some of the most pristine beaches in the country. We spent mornings paddleboarding at Cooper's Beach, ate ice creams at Cable Bay, and visited friends at Rangiputa - which pretty much looks like Fiji. We spent afternoons further afield at spots like Taupō Bay and Tauranga Bay with the back of the van open, reading, snoozing and taking dips in the ocean.
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