Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga is a remote place, even from Kaitaia it’s quite a stretch to get there as the road is anything but straight and flat – not what you’d expect on a sandspit. You can see it on a day tour from Paihia, Ahipara or Mangonui, with the advantage that the buses drive on 90 Mile Beach and you can concentrate on the scenery and highlights. If you can spend a whole day exploring on your own (I’d recommend Ahipara as a base) you may not drive on the beach as it’s dangerous or even prohibited in a rental car, but you’d be able to really enjoy the remoteness and peace of the stunning sights up there.

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The lighthouse, great to see it with no one else around…
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Approaching the tip of New Zealand

Because of the distance I wouldn’t say that it’s a must to see Cape Reinga, but if you’ve been to Bluff and like lighthouses, want to see what sandboarding is about and drive on 90 Mile Beach, then of course you will love it.

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View from Cape Reinga – theres an old Pohutukawa tree on the right cliff where Maori tradition thinks the souls will plunge into the ocean to travel to the legendary home of the ancestors, Hawaiiki
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Another view of the cape
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Cape Maria van Diemen to the west
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Not far from Cape Reinga is beautiful Tapotupotu Bay with a DOC campground
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The estuary of Tapotupotu Bay
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On the way up, here at Waipapakauri, the famous 90 Mile Beach!
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The West Coast is in general very wild and nearly always too dangerous for swimming
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Also at Waipapakauri, 90 Mile Beach looking north
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The Te Paki sanddunes, a great contrast between soft desert sand, the New Zealand bush and sea views from the top
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During summer you can usually rent boogieboards to go down slopes like this one or dare to test the ‘Psycho Drop’… People have killed themselves here!
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Weathered Te Paki sand
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Pretty big sand dunes!
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Rarawa Beach is NOT on the bus route as far as I know – one of the whitest beaches on earth! Pure silica sand and too bright to look at, it also squeeks when you walk on it – more than most in Northland!
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Rarawa Beach looking south
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We travelled with two penguins and they loved it, too!
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A scene from Houhora, halfway up the Aupouri Peninsula
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Ahipara is a great base for Cape Reinga trips because it’s at the end of 90 Mile Beach, with a gorgeous bay called Shipwreck Bay. Here’s how the locals launch their boats.