Gorgeous Northland is the ultimate summer destination. Some love relaxing at the tropical-like islands generously sprinkled around Paihia. Others, armed with their backpacks and hiking boots, prefer to explore all the tracks around Whangarei or less popular (but oh so wonderful) Mahinepua Harbour and Whangaroa Harbour. Some dive into local history in Kerikeri or drive all the way to see Tāne Mahuta – New Zealand’s oldest and largest
What to see at the northernmost part of New Zealand?
A trip to Northland’s furthest end normally includes three main attractions: 90 Mile Beach, Cape Reinga
So, if you want to visit all three, don’t plan to see anything else this day, leave your hotel early and get ready to be back late! Oh, and pack your lunch and snacks! This part of the country is quite wild and the nearest cafe/store is before the sand dunes. We felt hungry after exploring Cape Reinga, so had to drive all the way back to grab food and then back again to sand dunes (and then back again haha. Ask us about good planning!)
How far is Cape Reinga?
Because Cape Reinga is known as ‘the northernmost tip of New Zealand’, many people think it’s so remote and unreachable, it will take you many hours to drive there. Well, actually you can easily drive all the way up to Cape Reinga, visit the other local points of interest and return back to the town where you’re staying in just one day!
We drove to Cape Reinga from Kerikeri, which is 192 km or around 3 hours. Many people prefer to stay in Kaitaia – 111 km or just over 1.30 hours of driving. I know there are also bus tours departing daily from Paihia (213 km).
Cape Reinga is a special place in many aspects. I’ve already mentioned its geographical position, which definitely makes it very attractive for tourists, but what’s also really breathtaking about this place is seeing Tasman sea and Pacific ocean collide, creating colourful waves and whirlpools.
It also has sacred meaning for Māori people, as it’s believed to be the place where the souls of deceased leave the Earth to join their ancestors.
If you have a car, driving all the way up to Cape Reinga first is a great idea, as you’ll have this entire place to yourself. Tour buses normally don’t arrive until
What to do at Te Paki sand dunes?
You can also rent sandboards ($10-$15) here to slide from the top of sand dunes all the way down. Some of them are almost vertical – I couldn’t
P.S. You’d better have a special set of clothes for this experience with you. Sandboard or not, sand will be everywhere 🙂 So, it’s nice to get changed.
Can you drive at 90 Mile Beach?
Yes, you can! And it’s so much fun and is an absolutely surreal experience, especially on a sunny day, when you can’t tell sky from water, water from
For your own safety, keep closer to the
90 Mile Beach is one of the longest beaches in New Zealand and, of course, a MUST TRY BEFORE I DIE experience. And even the fact that in reality, it’s not 90 miles long can’t make it any less amazing. The beach, in fact, is only 88 km (or 54 miles) long. Though no one knows for sure, why is it called ’90 Mile Beach’, there is one legend, that this beach was discovered back at times when people were still riding horses.
In order to reach 90 Mile Beach, look for signs saying there is car access to the beach nearby and pick the one that suits your road trip plan. There are 4-5 of them along the beach. The first one when driving up is at Ahipara and the top one is right where the sand dunes are (but you’ll have to cross the stream, so it’s weather dependant and also not for every car).
Another option is to take a bus tour – buses drive to Cape Reinga along the 90 Mile Beach and even make a few stops along the way, if I’m not mistaken. Bus tours will cost you around $155-$200. But it won’t give the flexibility of exploring the region at your own pace.
To wrap up the day
On a hunt for a perfect dinner spot after an amazing trip up North? Fish
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