Shawn Mendes is lovestruck and his studio album Wonder shows us right where Cupid’s arrow landed. But what’s even better is that the arrow has allowed for us to find the beach equivalent of each track. In the truly inspiring words of Nicki Minaj, “Uh, let’s go to the beach, each/Let’s go get a wave” …
Sorry, I’ve been waiting my whole entire life to reference that lyric and well oops, it’s been a long year. Thank you Mr Mendes for finally given me the perfect opportunity to use that unforgettable line. Don’t feel overwhelmed for your summer plans because Wonder has got you sorted!
Here’s a list of New Zealand beaches inspired by each track from Wonder, let the album be your ultimate summer road-trip guide. Let’s find out where the arrow’s taking us…
Te Henga (Bethells Beach), Auckland
One of the many great West Coast spots but let me warn you, if you’re prone to carsickness, bring a plastic bag (or a reusable one, depending on how nice your car is). With its beautiful volcanic black sand, Te Henga definitely does not look like one of New Zealand’s most dangerous beaches. Yet it holds a high ranking due to its strong rips… This made it perfect for the intro to Wonder as Shawn Pete Raul Mendes is about to rip your heart out with the next 14 tracks.
Fun fact: Shania Twain’s music video for ‘Forever and for always’ was shot at this beach. And if anything, that feels like a sign that Shawn will be ours for exactly that long.
How can you not listen to ‘Wonder’ and not thin of the grand Piha? There’s no other beach which could live up to the masterpiece that is the album’s leading single. Here’s a quick warning, the orchestra on this track with Shawn’s emotional vocals will give you a BIG adrenaline rush. Perhaps even one so big that you’ll accidentally jump off Lion Rock. That’s simply just how good Wonder is.
Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach, Tauranga
You deserve an award if you’ve never seen an Instagram post here! But truth be told, it certainly holds its Instagram-worthiness. Make sure you’ve got plenty of water and ‘Higher’ playing if you do choose to do the hike, there’s no way you’re going to make it to the top without Shawn’s encouragement. And what better way to cool down afterwards than a swim in the famous waters? You will have definitely earnt that gram after.
4. 24 hours
Little Oneroa Beach, Waiheke Island
A little bit of daydreaming goes a long way… And given the chance, the next time Shawn comes to New Zealand (Santa, please make it soon), I will take him here. Manifestation baby! It’s never a completed beach list without Waiheke Island. And trust me, it is well worth waiting in that damn long ferry line (even if it takes 24 hours, but hey as Shawn said, that’s all it’d take). It’s a little less crowded than Oneroa Beach, meaning there’s absolutely no excuse for not bringing cheese and crackers. Practice your picnic etiquette because we’ll be taking Shawn here next.
5. Teach Me How to Love
Wainui Beach, Gisborne
‘Teach Me How to Love’ did the unthinkable. It knocked ‘Don’t Be A Fool’ from the title as my favourite Mendes song. That’s how good it is. There’s no way you can listen without doing a sneaky boogie, no matter where you are. Wainui Beach makes the perfect spot for this stuck-in-your-head-forever track because you’ll catch all the Rhythm and Vines festival goers on this beach. So, there’s no way you’ll be the only one dancing there. It is going to be on repeat on my road-trip playlist (despite the fact that I’m on my Learners).
6. Call My Friends
Taylor’s Mistake, Christchurch
Christchurch isn’t typically known for its beaches, but Taylor’s Mistake is far from its name. Located 30-minutes away from the city, this beach is something of a hidden gem with the many beautiful hiking tracks near it. And if you can’t be bothered because well, it’s been a long year, the secluded bay is perfect for napping. An ex-boyfriend once took me to this beach and as we all know, the only thing you can gain from a bad relationship is that they make you closer to your friends. So hey, this is a tribute to terrible exes, Shawn’s new album and bloody wonderful friends.
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula
There’s a reason why Narnia is filmed here and also why it is one of New Zealand’s most renowned beaches. Cathedral Cove is accessible only by boat or on foot, very much like dreams… yeah, that doesn’t make sense. Anyways, it’s lucky that it’ll be you going to this beach, not with Shawn and Camila on one of their quarantine walks… Because otherwise, we’d never make it to the iconic cave! Sadly though, you won’t find Aslan hiding there but you will be able to shout “Hello, hello, hello/ Can I hear an echo?” and get one back.
8. Song For No One
Makara Beach, Wellington
A slightly controversial choice but god, Makara Beach is a hidden gem. Nestled amongst a gazillion of farms (yep, there’s farms in Wellington), it is a stony beach perfect for questioning life’s meaning… Trust me, listening to ‘Song For No One’ will certainly cause this but Makara holds plenty of hidden places to cry. Make sure you’re ready to lose a little bit of hearing though as windy Wellington lives up to its reputation here. You will to need to put your Airpods on full volume to hear Shawn’s soft vocals here. But with the best views in the city, a little bit of loss hearing never hurt anybody! Anything for Shawn, right?
9. Monster ft. Justin Bieber
Oriental Bay, Wellington
Mendes and Bieber unveil to us their most vulnerable takes on fame in ‘Monster’. And if you’re a Wellingtonian, you’ll know that a trip to Oriental Bay will give you a real taste for stardom. You just see absolutely everyone you know there. But it’s a classic for a reason. It’s easier than becoming TikTok viral to get there and it’s also a damn lit beach. And if you don’t feel like being a celebrity for a day, go to Beach Babylon to enjoy Oriental Bay away from the fans (also for a fantastic milkshake).
Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park
Let’s hope you don’t take too much inspiration from this beach and legally listened to Wonder! Located right in the heart of Abel Tasman National Park, there’s no better location to match ‘305’, a song right from Mendes’ heart than Torrent Bay. The numbers “305” reference the area code for Miami, aka Camila’s home aka I’m not crying, that’s just saltwater. BYE. Time to get back into the ocean.
11. Always Been You
Wharariki Beach, Puponga
In his Netflix documentary, In Wonder, Shawn describes trying to write about love as, “I think it’s like when you see a moon or stars and you try and take a photo of it with your iPhone and then you just can’t, it just doesn’t look good.” The same can go for Wharariki Beach, if you don’t know it, you will most definitely have seen photos of it. Ignore the weird photos of horses, it’s much more than a site for cowboys… Anyways, you NEED to experience it with full 20/21 (simply had to because we’re going into a new year, oops) vision.
12. Look Up at The Stars
Shipwreck Bay, Ahipara
Just around the country from the country’s longest beach, Ninety Mile Beach, this surf beach is perfect for your summer road-trip. Want a cool story to return from summer with? Shipwreck Bay has all name all over it, ditch the tourist trap of Ninety Mile and tell everyone all about how you saw real shipwreck. No need to even exaggerate because at low ride, you can spot old wrecks! No other way to be the main character than to listen to the guitar solo on this track here. Slight tip though, sharks have been spotted here so… Maybe don’t look up at the stars while swimming!
13. Piece of You
Hot Water Beach, Coromandel
If you can’t have Shawn Mendes write a song about how hot you are, the only solution I guess, is to dig yourself a hot pool? Let me introduce you to Hot Water Beach… A Coromandel goodie and most certainly the cure for all your summer sadness over ‘Piece of You’ not being about you. We can’t all be Camila Cabello here. But we can all definitely have a hot girl summer in New Zealand, something the rest of the world (still in lockdown) wish they could do. This is an absolute must-do.
14. Can’t Imagine
Castlepoint Beach, Waiarapa
There’s no better way to end than with Castlepoint. Wonder is an album all about a young person starting to truly find themselves and well, ships need lighthouses for navigation. Castlepoint Beach has one of the most dramatic and beautiful lighthouses in the country. PLUS, can I just mention that dolphins are a regular here? We unfortunately can’t visit the lighthouses Mendes used in navigating his identity on Wonder… But this most certainly will make do.
Shawn Mendes’ Wonder is out now, listen to find your next beach getaway. And well, just because, it’s damn good.