The area north of Auckland is full of rolling sand dunes, beautiful stretches of beach and uninhabited islands. It’s great if you have your own transport as it means you can see all those little things that you usually miss out on a bus.
Bay of Islands
The drive here is breathtaking. We stayed in a little town called Paihia, our hostel rented free kayaks so we took them out for a day to explore the little islands just off the coast. You can also pay for a boat cruise, swim with dolphins, scuba dive or just relax on one of the many beaches.
90 Mile Beach
This beach is actually only 55 miles long. But you can drive on it. Which is awesome! They recommend hiring a 4×4 but, as you can see, our little rental car made it without getting stuck too much! It’s a fun experience, the next step up is driving around Fraser Island in Australia!
If you’re driving yourself you need to make sure you don’t miss this last gas station before heading up to Cape Reinga. We drove straight past it, realised what we had done a while later and had to turn around for gas, and a place to stay. We came upon a little place in Pukenui Lodge Motel and Backpackers, we payed $20 for our own little bungalow right on the water! It definitely costs a lot more than that now, but it’s a great little place to spend a night.
Te Paki Sand Dunes
Ever heard of sand boarding? Well this is a good place to try it. All you have to do is rent a body board in the nearest town and walk your butt up each sand dune you want to slide down. Some are nice and easy, some are a lot steeper, but it’s really good fun, and doesn’t hurt too much if you bail… Even if you’re not keen to sand board it’s an awesome place to explore.
This white silica sand beach is a great place to stop for a bit, even if the weather isn’t so great. It’s a decent beach break if you fancy a surf, and there’s a campsite nearby if you have your own camping equipment.
It’s technically the northwesternmost tip of the country, but it feels a million miles away from anything, 100km from the nearest town, Highway 1 extends all the way to the end. The Maori name Te Rerenga Wairua means the ‘leaping off place of spirits’ and Reinga is the word meaning ‘the underworld’, it is the point where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld.
You can view the full album here.