Ninety Mile Beach is a long beach (actually 58 miles or 93 km long) in the Far Far North of New Zealand. Legally a road, it is used for sightseeing trips to Cape Reinga, and the high dunes at Te Paki are used for sandboarding.
Ninety Mile Beach stretches from Ahipara Bay in the south near Kaitaia to Scott Point near Cape Reinga at the northern end. It got its name from an estimate used by early farmers when bringing their cattle to market – they figured they could drive their livestock 30 miles (48 km) a day and it would take them three days to make the trip from the top to the bottom of the beach. Thus the ninety mile name.
The beach is legally a road and, when the tide permits, it can be driven for its entire length by appropriate 4WD vehicles. Once clear of the village of Ahipara, you can count on one hand the number of man-made structures on the entire length of the beach.
There is extensive forestry situated beyond and eastward of the primary dune line. This adds to the beauty and mystery of the beach. In addition, a large herd of wild horses, estimated at over 300 head, live in the forest and can oftimes be seen, not only in their forested habitat, but on the beach as well.
Close to its northern end, the shallow Te Paki Stream joins the beach. The stream may be traversed by appropriate vehicles. At the far end of the stream is an extensive and very beautiful sand dune system. Visitors often climb the steep sand hills or toboggan down them.
Some refer to Ninety Mile Beach as the "mother of all beaches". Once one experiences it, it's easy to see why.
The easiest place to drive onto the beach is at Waipapakauri, towards the southern end, but north of Kaitaia. Other places to drive onto the beach are, from the south, Ahipara (at the southern end), Hukatere Hill and Te Paki Stream. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for some of these.
Daily sightseeing tours are operated by many companies and include sandboarding at Te Paki Stream and a visit to Cape Reinga. The tours depart from two locations: Paihia/Kerikeri or further north at Kaitaia/Ahipara/Awanui. The tours departing from the Kaitaia region will be cheaper:
- Departing Paihia
- Departing Kaitaia
- Sandboarding. Take a boogieboard or hire one to slide down the massive sand dunes at Te Paki Stream, towards the northern end of the beach.