Ninety Mile Beach on New Zealand's far northwest coast stretches from Ahipara Bay in the south near Kaitaia to Scott's Point near Cape Reinga at the northern end. It is actually about 58 miles in length. It got its name from an estimate that the early farmers in the area used when bringing their cattle to market – they figured they could drive their livestock 30 miles per 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 also a road and can be driven, when the tide permits, for its entire length using appropriate 4WD vehicles. Once clear of the village of Ahipara, one 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, its 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.