(part 2) Some tours bring tourists towards 90 mile beach by drive along Te Paki stream ,this access is a sand based stream bed 3km in length located between sand dunes. .All the sandy road around Te Paki sand dune and 90 mile beach is suitable for only 4 wheel drive ,most car rental companies do not insure to drive on the beach. It could get stuck in the sand with no help and many vehicles got stuck before.Becuase some of these area is real quicksand ,.. in the old days they lost horses here. Now you'll be fine to walk across it, but if the car or bus stop moving, it'll sink into the sand up to its axles very fast .So it’s better to join the tour for this, the bus drivers know the tide times, areas to avoid, the best access and exit points, and how to navigate the streams which run onto the beach, most of the time they did it successfully.Or if you have 4 WD and want to try it ,try to stay in the hard packed sand and stayed far away from the ‘too wet’ sand by the water, and the dry sand by the dunes which is where most people get in trouble.And it’s better to check the tide timetable. Keeping track off the hour is necessary. Staying off the beach between 1 hour before and 1 hour after high tide would ensure your safety.It means you have about 3-4 hours during low tide that there is plenty of wet sand exposed by the low tide to drive on.
Apart from Te Paki stream access route ..the turn off to 90 mile beach is by ‘Hukatere’ hill access point which is identified by a dome shaped hill. It provides an easy access on and off the beach.
And ‘Waipapakauri’ ramp which is used by private car and tour bus , and is safe all year round. It is about 20 km from Kaitaia and is the most reliable access to 90 Mile Beach.
There’s another route ‘The Bluff’ ,50 km north of ‘Waipapakauri ramp’ ,this access is a private road,to be used only in case of emergency. A short section of loose dry sand could cause problems for 2WD..
Driving on this perfectly straight and flat beach is a super-fun do-it-yourself adventure but I had a 2WD rental car so I didn’t do the drive on the beach but just walk along the beach for a while.At that moment there’s nobody on the beach cuz it’s quite late afternoon ,all the tour already rush to go back before sun set.They drive really fast on the way back ,I treid to follow them but finally had to let them go.Can’t beat their speed.
I drove along ‘Hukatere’ hill access to ‘90 mile beach’ .It’s about 10 km. along this road….only the beginning of the road is paved ..the rest is gravel.You can park quite close to the beach.The beach stretch really far ..far..to both directions.I think it really deserve its name.When I was there ..almost nobody around..,it’s quite good feeling …can see only the trace of vehicle tyre.I saw one seal on the beach but unfortunately he’s dead…I don’t know what cause this and how long did he die ...poor him.
( part 1) 90 mile beach - official name 'Te Oneroa-a-Tôhç'. It stretches from just west of Kaitaia,Ahipara bay towards Cape Reinga along the Aupouri Peninsula. It ends at 'Scott Point' , 5 kilometres south of 'Cape Maria van Diemen'. The beach is actually just 55 mile long ( 88 km.). Some time ago the beach was used as the runway for some of the earliest airmail services between New Zealand and Australia,and it is officially a ‘public highway’ and sometimes used as an alternative road to State Highway 1.
There are many tour operator from Bay of Island area like Paihia ,Russel bring tourists to this area .Most of the tour provide similar service .They’ll bring you to Cape Reinga,Te Paki sand dune for sand boarding ,drive on the beach of 90 mile beach or let you pick some pipi clam on the beach ,and visit ‘Puketi Kauri Forest’ an Ancient Kauri Kingdom and real Kiwi fish 'n' chips as lunch that some tour are included in the price but some not.The tour price range from 45 - 120 $ The cheapest one may be from ‘Kaitaia’ which is close to 90 mile beach .
(part 3)( I’d like to write a bit more about the Te Paki sand dune)…Because of the very strong wind make strong wave action that drives the sand ashore and as it dries out at low tide it can be blown on shore.The power of strong westery wind blowing in from Tasman sea have pushed the dunes inland for about 5 km. and reach the height of about 100 m. The accumulating sand nerarest to the sea is called a ‘foredune’ and behind this are ‘backdune’.The backdune are protected by the wind so they tend to be more stable .
Every dune has a windward side and a slipface. A dunes windward side is the side where the wind is blowing and pushing material up, in this case is the wind from Tasman sea. A dunes slip face is simply the leeward side. A slipface is usually smoother than a dunes windward side.
I didn’t do the sandboarding here, cuz already did some from middle east countries and in Perth ,Australia. So I just walked up and down .The way up is hard cuz the sand are loose ,when you walk up 30 cm. you’ll slip half way back down ,it seems like the walking in not progress at all,that’s make us quite exhausted.I saw a young guy just ran up very fast and arrive the top very quickly…like a mountain goat ..awesome..!! I tried to do the same but no…. it’s definitely not .. so I just enjoy my pace and enjoy the touching soft sand by bare feet.How nice….
Once we are on the top we will forget about the tiredness ..from there you could see sand for miles it didn’t feel like we are in New Zealand but could be somewhere in the middle of a desert, except for the fact that the ocean was visible in a small distance.The wind up there really strong and the sand still being blown away all the time so the foot print of those people who just walked there had already been wiped out ,I can see only my own foot print.
There are many tour operators bring tourists here and let people who would like to try sand boarding do the activity ,and I heard that some of them provide sand board for their customer too.But joining the tour I guess you won’t have much time to toboggan many rounds,probably only one time and that’s it .But if you are fit enough and prepare to do it ..so go first and run up like a mountain goat : ) then you may be able to do another round cuz I’m sure that there’ll be someone in the group that can’t walk fast and you have to wait for them anyway.I didn’t walk zigzag but just simply straight up ..took my time..when I walked down also fun ..kind of slide down by my body .
And it’s better to take off shoes and keep them in the car cuz you have to wading across Te Paki Stream to the dune.
There’s compost toilet but no water ,they provide only antiseptic gel.There’s some benches but no food or snack for sale ,you may buy some drinks from the sand board rental but may be limited.
( part 2) As I wondered how this giant sand dunes are here, so I studied a little bit about it.
Dunes normally form when wind blows sand up and away and grow as grains of sand accumulate.But I still wonder where these sand came from and if answer is ‘from the beach next to it’ ,if so.. why the whole ‘90 mile beach’ doesn't has sand dune like here?,...cuz I think it’s a long stretch beach..no curve ..no hidden bay or roks to obstruct the wind..to make 'only one part' that has such a big sand dune.
After studying more that.. the dune formed by the large amount of loose sand from less vegetation area like near coast line or dried river bed.And of course that area must has strong wind to blow the sand and small particles up ,and some obstacles caused the sand to lose momentum and settle .That obstacle can be anything such as a small rock or some trees so this must be the answer for me that why this area are different from the rest of ‘90 mile beach’… 'The very first obstacle underneath these dunes’…might be different than other area, so they formed these giant dune as we see today.I don't know what is under but I guess it could be a small hill or series of rocks that made the dunes started to form for may be.. thousand of years ago.
The 'Te Paki' sand dunes are devided into 2 parts by Te Paki stream .If you are from Cape Reinga ..it’s about 15 km. to the turn off from SH 1 into Te Paki Stream road and is about 4 km. more to the dune.The first ¼ part of the road is good but the rest is gravel as seen in the picture. There’s car parking right at the foot of the north dune. This place has a history of car break ins,so lock your vehicle well.The time I was there ,at least somebody stayed in their vehicles so I didn’t feel worried much.
( Part 1) The Te Paki Stream sand dunes, just 17 km.south of Cape Reinga, is a natural sandboarding free fun park. The Te Paki Sand Dunes are the largest in the Southern Hemisphere . I didn’t expect to see such a massive sand dune like this in New Zealand.The country are lucky that has many wonderful natural things (like .. sand dune, high mountains , snow peak mountains, nice warm beach and even glacier...in one such small country like this.
Before I was there I can’t imagine how this sand dune will be, because the surrounding is so green with some stream pouring around and especially there’s humid from 2 oceans nearby. What I can imagine before was some small dune that can occur from strong wind bring up the sand to form some mound or small dune ,but this one ..when I came to see it in real ..what a surprised ..of how massive they are.
Try to toboggan down the sand dunes .There are few sand board for rent along the way driving to the site.The farer from the dune.. the cheaper = 10 $ .The day I was there ..only one sand board rental at the site and cost 15$ ,..cash only,and available from around 9.30 am.
Some may say that they don’t allow you to BYO sand board but actually you can.Some rental may say boogie board don’t slide ..? ..I don’t know ..you can try it if you have one ,or otherwise rent from them cuz they have sandboard that claimed to be the fastest sandboard …try?
(part 2) In this tip I’ll write a bit more details about the whole track and the map on the linking sections of the ‘Te Paki Coastal track’.The map also shows camping area.From my pic. it's quite small,I hope you can see it well.
1-Kapowairua – Pandora = 9km. 3 hrs.
2-Pandora –Tapotupotu = 9km. 5.30 hrs.
3-Tapotupotu- Te Rerenga Wairua = 5km. 3hrs.
4-Te Rerenga Wairua - Te Werahi beach = 2km.
5-Te Werahi beach-Twilight /Te Werahi loop track junction = 3km. 1 hr.
6-Twilight/Te Werahi loop junction -Twilight beach = 5km.1.30 hrs.
7-Twilight beach – Scotts point = 6.8 km. 2.30 hrs.
8-Scotts point – Te Paki stream = 7.7 km. 3 hrs.
From Te Paki stream you can continue on the track further to Ahipara (southern part of 90 mile beach) which is about 83 km. and is in the part of Te Araroa trails.( You can read about Te Araroa trails from my ‘Cape Reinga’ part 6)
Pic. 2,3 You’ll see the area around walking trails number 4 and 5 which is from Cape Reinga to Cape Maria Van Diemen.
Pic 4.Taken from a closer lookout point to ‘Te Werahi’ beach. These area always have strong wave as you can see the white water.
Pic 5.The area on the right side of Cape Reinga (Pacific side) The small bay on the right of the picture with little turquoise color is ‘Sandy Bay’ a small bay between Cape Reinga and Tapotupotu bay.
(part 1) In this tip I’ll write about ‘Te Paki Recreational Reserve’ that offers a wide variety of tramping opportunities including ‘Te Araroa trails’ and the ‘Te Paki Coastal Track’ which is made up of a series of interlinking section that range from 30 min. to several hours .Some of the other tramps are accessed from SH 1 and link into parts of Te Paki Coastal tracks and Te Araroa.
‘Te Paki recreational reserve’ are made of around 0.23 sqkm. of public conservation land.Te Paki Coastal track which is in this reserve follows the dramatic coast line of the north and west and traverses a variety of beautiful and unique landforms including huge sand dunes.The track follows the coastline from ‘Spirits Bay’ (Kapowairua) on the North Eastern Coast, past ‘Cape Reinga’ (Te Rerenga Wairua) and ‘Cape Maria van Dieman’ , and finishes at ‘Te Paki Stream’ on the West Coast. From there, you can continue along ‘90 Mile Beach’ all the way to Ahipara.
I didn’t walk any tracks here but try to find some information for you .The distance and time walking from Cape Reinga to Tasman side .. ‘Te Werahi’ = 2 km. , 45minutes ...To Twilight camp = 13 km. ,4hr.30 min… To Te Paki stream = 25 km. ,9 hours.
And to the Pacific side from Cape Reinga..to Tapotupotu Camping ground = 5km. 3hrs...to Pandora camp = 14km. 8.30 hrs... to Kapowairua (spirit bay ) campground = 23km. 11.30 hrs.Some tracks may be limited during high tide.
You can attempt the whole track or choose one or several track sections that suit your fitness level and areas of interest.
This is the sign board inform details about ‘Te Paki’ coastal track which is a part of ‘Te Araroa'(meaning .. ‘A long pathway’) Te Araroa is New Zealand's trail which is a continuous 3,000 km. walking track from Cape Reinga to Bluff... Te Araroa purpose is to be ‘The world’s best walking trail’ and ‘New Zealand icon’. The project was started around 1975 that the 'New Zealand Walkways Commission' is formed. One of its goal is a New Zealand-long ‘scenic trail’. And in 1994 .. ‘Te Araroa Trust’ is formed after a newspaper article by Geoff Chapple supporting the New Zealand-long trail. There were new tracks opened during those years and private land owner ,communities and councils enroute gradually co-operate the project. In 2011 ..Te Araroa officially opened by the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae on 3 December… the publication Te Araroa ‘A Walking Guide to New Zealand's Long Trail’ is released.
Most of Te Araroa’s through-walkers will start their long journey at Cape Reinga.To walk all the way to Bluff ..we may need 3 to 6 months but they also offer section tramps lasting anything from a few days to a week or more, and many attractive day or overnight walks. There are many different kind of trails.We can experience New Zealand’s tombolos, its volcanoes, its range and mountain uplift, its rivers, lakes and valleys.
This is the entrance gate to the cape ..try to be quiet while walking through it and listen to ‘the whistling sound of Maori music’ . If I close my eyes and imagine about their belief .. ‘the leaping place of the spirit’ .. the sound was so much in harmony with their belief…it sounds so wafting…..blow away...............
The speaker for the music sound are hidden well on the wall ,if you have chance to be there ,try to see where they are.
And as this area is sacred , so drinking and eating beyond this point is not permitted.I heard that walking down to the tip of the cape itself also prohibited .
The Cape Reinga’s lighthouse was built in 1941 . First lit was during May ..same year.It was the last ‘attended’ light house to be built in New Zealand .It replaced a lighthouse at the cape ‘Maria Van Diemen’ near by ‘Motuopao Island’( south-west of Cape Reinga) which had been built in 1879 and was too difficult to access because of rough sea.It is one of the first light that shipping observes when arriving from the Tasman sea and Northern Pacific ocean.
The Cape Reinga lighthouse is 10 m. high and 165 m. above sea level .The 50 watts beacon operates on a battery supply charged by solar panels .The original lens rotated around a 1000-watt lamp supplied by diesel-generated power.The light flashes once every 12 seconds and can be seen for 19 nautical miles or 35 km. out to the sea.It was manned during WWII and up until 1987 when it was fully automated and is monitored by computer and Maritime New Zealand staff in Wellington.
Now Cape Reinga is a popular tourist destination and although the lighthouse is not open to public but it is one of the most visited and photographed New Zealand’s lighthouses.
Standing beside the lighthouse is the international sign post giving distances and direction of other world cities. This is a favourite photo opportunity for tourist and is a distinctive Cape Reinga image.
Near the most tip of the Cape ,you’ll see the ‘only tree’ around there ..a gnarled ‘Pohutukawa’ tree, believed to be over 800 years old. According to Maori history, it is from here that the spirits of the dead begin their journey to their traditional homeland of Hawaiki. From this point the spirits leap off the headland and climb down the roots of this tree, descending into the underworld on their return journey.
Normally this tree has beautiful red flower(there are some other colors as well which is yellow and white ), its flower has become an established part of the New Zealand Christmas tradition , because of its blooming is around Christmas time or their summer from November to January with a peak in mid to late December.It can grow up to 25 metres tall with a trunk of up to 2.5 metres wide. This iconic Kiwi Christmas tree, which often features on greeting cards and in poems and songs, has become an important symbol for New Zealanders at home and abroad.But this one at Cape Reinga they said its flowers didn’t bloom for already long time . I think it’s amazing that this tree that can survive on the salty edge of the land where no other can, clinging precariously to impossible rocks and cliffs like this area which has strong wind and waves but still strong enough to stand here for long time.
At the Cape they said you’ll see spectacular swirl of currents cause by the colliding of the 2 oceans.I didn’t see much of that ‘swirl’ but only the very impressive strong wave cause by the strong wind .It’s really strong ..the crash of water against the rocks are so strong ,can see impressive white foamy water splash from rocks to rocks.I enjoyed watching them so much.
If you look well you’ll see the different color of water which is green and blue in line ,it makes me have more feeling of what they say ..“ where the 2 oceans meet” .Not only this.. but they also said that Tasman is male and the Pacific is female ,so this line of different sea color emphasize the feeling of 2 things meet..But actually it’s the continuous ridge of the cape that declining under the sea , and right side(Pacific side ) of the ridge is immediately fall steep down ,the deeper.. the less reflection of the light..the only color that reflect back to surface is ‘blue’ ..the rest of color are absorbed by water ,so what we’ll see this side is deep blue color.,while the left side (Tasman sea) is more shallow, so the sand and rocks under the sea can help reflect more sun’s rays back , so we see more hue of color that reflect to the surface which is not only blue hue but also green hue.
Cape Reinga is the place that I must visit ,just to see and feel the northwestern most tip of the ‘Aupouri Peninsula’, at the northern end of the North Island ,even it’s not really northern most of the country but it made me feel the same .The northern most point of the main land New Zealand is 30 km. more to the east at ‘Surville Cliffs’ and it is about 3 km further north than Cape Reinga.
But the ‘Three Kings’ which are 3 small islands off the mainland marking the official Northern most part of New Zealand. They are said to be the location where spirits heading out to sea would turn back to get one last look at mainland New Zealand before leaving for the afterlife.
At Cape Reinga we’ll see ‘where the 2 oceans meet’.. Tasman sea to the west and Pacific ocean to the east.The official name of Cape Reinga is 'Te Rerenga Wairua' that means ‘the leaping place of spirits’and “Reinga” itself means ‘underworld’ , so all together mean ‘the point where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld’.
By the way ..from the first picture I like the rock shape that curving down and look like a giant dragon crawling into the sea.
(I ‘ll separate ‘Cape Reinga’ tip into few parts as it may be too long in one tip.)
Although more and more people today are using email and other forms of electronics to keep in touch with others, why not do something different, going back to the "old school" way of doming things. Pick up a postcard in Kaitaia of the cape then actually post the postcard from the cape!
Address: Cape Reinga, Top of North Island
Directions: Keep heading up state highway 1 all the way until you can not go any further!
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Tapotupotu and Spirits Bay are close to Rerenga Wairua and provide good surfing with the right conditions.
At Tapotupotu surf on the western end at the low tide and as the tide comes in the surf breaks move along to the eastern end.
Spirits Bay also has good surfing.
Both of these places also have a campground where you can stay and surf.
Address: General Cape Reinga Area
Directions: Tapotupotu turnoff is about 6kms south of the cape and the Spirits Bay turnoff is about 20kms south of the cape.