The Northland of New Zealand is a vast expanse of rolling green pastures, windswept sand dunes and sheltered turquoise coves which all help to create one of the most scenic regions of the country. Thrusting northwards to its dramatic terminus at Cape Reinga, the Northland serves as the pointy end of the fishhook the demigod Maui mystically used to pull the islands from the sea. An area steeped in cultural history and natural wonder, one of the most popular visitor attractions in the area is the stretch of coast known as Ninety Mile Beach.
Actually only running for 55 miles (there are multiple theories as to where the “Ninety Mile” portion of the name came from), the beach has become a favorite of visitors to the coast who enjoy body boarding or sand boarding down the towering coastal dunes. Strangely enough, this area of hard packed sand which lies south of the dunes also serves as an unofficial 4WD highway for vehicles traveling up and down the coast. Particularly at low-tide, it isn’t uncommon to see a number of anglers, campers, surfers, or the sparse amount of locals traversing the remote shoreline in an area otherwise devoid of many other roads. The main highway to Cape Reinga runs inland from the coast through the growth of the Aupouri Forest, although guided coach tours which depart from Kaitaia still have a number of spots where they are able to access the western-facing coast.
Like many other locations in New Zealand, Ninety Mile Beach exists in an area where man’s delicate commune with nature is evident around every turn. Wild horses still roam the coastal forests, and diving for paua (abalone) or digging for tuatua (shellfish) in the sand provide culinary staples which fortify the local diet. While the profound silence of many parts of the beach is broken only by wind, nature’s tremendous force can be witnessed just north of Ninety Mile Beach at Cape Reinga where thundering waves crash headlong into each other at the tumultuous point where the Pacific Ocean meets the currents of the Tasman Sea.
An undeveloped, untouched and unadulterated stretch of coast, those looking to commune with nature and step away from the daily grind can find ample room to exhale and wander in this remote and rugged paradise in the far north.
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