Ninety Miles Beach and Cape Reinga
It’s not really 90 miles long, nor is it New Zealand’s longest beach (that would be Ripiro Beach a little further south), however – when talking of the famous 90 Mile Beach in the Top of the North , you would be forgiven for thinking so as you set sail and blast down the beach on a Land Yacht.
If wind power is not your thing, then perhaps a 4W bike would be better- complete with a tour around famous Shipwreck Bay reef-point and onto old Kauri Gum fields where pioneers came to make their fortune with this buried gold. Panoramic views of an endless coast will include a lone fisherman casting his line off the beach, a local digging for Tuatua (shellfish) for a feed, or a surfer testing his skills against a perfect lefthand surf break.
But the best fun of all has to be surfing of another kind particular to this part of paradise – Sand Dune Surfing.
The legs and heart are pumping to get you up giant golden dunes in order to experience that few seconds of sheer exhilaration. Relive childhood memories of tobogganing in the snow, but, there’s no snow here – all activities are under the sub-tropical sun in New Zealands warmest region – Northland!
Cape Reinga, Northland
A region of cultural and spiritual significance. It is the northern-most tip of New Zealand, where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Oceans meet. In Maori mythology, this is the place from where spirits depart for the after-life.
Visitors to New Zealand during summer will see New Zealand’s Christmas tree – the pohutukawa, fringing northern beaches and clinging to seaside cliffs. The trees have masses of stunning crimson flowers and have cultural significance for Maori. At Spirits Bay in Northland, Cape Reinga (the far north of the North Island), an old pohutukawa is said to be where spirits leave on their journey through the underworld after death.
Ninety Mile Beach
The ninety Mile Beach is actually only 55 miles / 88 km long. It is terminated by rocky volcanic headlands, Scott Point to the north and Reef Point to the south. Between the two points is a beautiful arching beach of white sand facing the Tasman Sea. The origin of the name is uncertain, for the beach measures only 55 miles. It can be used as a motorway at low tide and, provided the sudden watercourses which seam the sand are crossed slowly and proximity to the waves avoided, the surface can be used with confidence. The beach is backed throughout its length by a belt of sand dunes up to 4 miles in width and up to 469 ft in height above sea level. The sandhills are highest in the north and gradually decrease in height to the south, where they are about 200 ft.
On the eastern fringing of the dunes there is a series of lakes of which Rotokawau, the most elevated, is 130 ft above sea level. The most important of these lakes are Waiparera (115 ft), near Waiharara; Wahakari, near Te Kao, and Ngahu (118 ft), near Waipapakauri, where speedboat regattas are held. From the south the beach is approached by wooden ramp near Ahipara, and at a distance of about 11 miles a ramp provides access from the beach to the inland village of Waipapakauri. At a distance of 18 miles, near the mouth of the Waihi Stream, is an outcrop of lignite interbedded in the consolidated sand. At a distance of 22 miles is Hukatere, where a pack track across the sand dunes leads to Houhora, about 10 miles away. About 40 miles from the southern end is the Bluff, a patch of ellipsoidal-shaped submarine lava flows with bands of quartz, and connected to the mainland at low tide by a sand platform. Mauve-flowered ice plants are abundant here.
At a point 12 miles further up the beach the mouth of Te Paki Stream is reached. Its stream bed provides access to the hinterland, north to Cape Reinga, and south to Kaitaia.
More articles about: the Northland Region, New Zealand
Destination Northland; Tourism New Zealand; travel1000places.com
Text ‘Ninety Mile Beach’ is by Robert Findlay Hay, M.A., B.E.(MINING), Scientific Officer, New Zealand Geological Survey, Otahuhu.
An excerpt from ‘NINETY MILE BEACH’, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 11-Jul-2005 (public domain)