At the top of New Zealand: Northland

white Silica beach

A benefit of being married to a Kiwi is that I get to visit New Zealand at a leisurely pace, discovering one area each time we go down under

This New Zealand summer we toured Northland, more specifically the “Far North” of Northland on the North Island. As the name suggests it is the top of the country with relatively good and warm weather, lots of farms, a large maori population, it is where the country as we know it now was founded, and it is beautiful! The first piece of New Zealand mainland you see (if the weather is good) as you travel the Asia to NZ route to Auckland and is called Aupouri Peninsula, which is where this tour starts…

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga Lighthouse

cape reinga 

First stage : A spiritual stop at Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga is the furtherest north you can go in New Zealand (at least symbolically because it’s not exactly true due to some small islands off the coast) and is the meeting place of two powerful seas. It is a sacred place for the Maori people because this is where souls of people depart to the after life. The stroll around the light house is very enjoyable and you can also head down towards Te Werahi beach to admire the view.

Te paki northland

Second stage : Sport at Te Paki

Not far from Cape Reinga you can find little Namibia in New Zealand: the Te Paki dunes. We took our sledge and Little G on our back (it was difficult for him to walk up due to the sand) to the top of these large dunes for the slide down. The climb is exhausting and we didn’t last long before needing a rest on a nearby beach.

Henderson Bay

Third stage : Alone on a secluded beach in Henderson Bay

After the Te Paki exercise, we headed to Henderson Bay. Most of the beaches in this area are totally empty but are not alway easily accessible but Henderson Bay is empty and accessible. … look nice? It is, but the water is really chilly!

Fourth stage : A wild horse safari

In the pine tree forest of Aupouri that lies along 90 miles beach live 300 wild horses. Horses have been roaming here for about 50 years. We got really lucky the day we were there and managed to get close to some of them on foot and even Little G managed to stop talking not to scare the animals…. this was a first!

90 miles beach

Fifth stage : A public highway … that is not always open due to the tides

After seeing the wild horses, 90 Miles Beach was next on the itinerary (90 miles beach is a road in New Zealand… but rental vehicles are not allowed to take it). We went there, had a look but didn’t stay long… It’s impressive but wasn’t our preferred beach is the area.

Great Exhibition Bay

White Silica Beach

cape reinga

Sixth Stage : A white world

The next day we headed towards the white silica beach in Great Exhibition Bay: a huge beach only accessible with a local Maori guide. My Kiwi went fishing and not only caught a snapper, it was one eyed! (much like New Zealand rugby supporters). The fish was really good to eat! The kids fell in love with the maori grandmother that was along with us on the trip and I became a pro at collecting shells on the beach that were to be dinner for some her friends and family…. all of this at a incredibly beautiful location  all to ourselves! A special experience on this New Zealand trip.

Now it is time to leave this part of the country and our charming hosts at the B&B and drive towards the Bay of Islands.

Go and visit, this area of NZ is really worth it.

White Silica Beach

Voyagista’s tips

  • The road is now sealed all the way to Cape Reinga so it is much easier to drive but make sure to fill up your petrol tank at Hourora. Better to get to the Cape first before all the groups coming from Bay of Islands arrive go up to Cape Reinga early in the morning and then make stops on the peninsula on the way back down. At Cape Reinga we didn’t do any big walks but there are some worth exploring.

  • 90 Miles Beach is worth a look but remember rental cars are not allowed to go on the beach.

  • Don’t forget your sled for Te Paki dunes – if your accomodation doesn’t lend you one there are some for rent at the dunes.

  • We stayed in a very nice B&B in the area, Hourora Lodge. I recommend you to go and spend a few days there instead of staying in the Bay of Islands and making the trip

  • To access Great Exhibition Bay, the B&B recommended us a guide. You can get the name from the B&B or ask me.

Question – Why was 90 Miles Beach called  this when it is known to be only 55 ? Go to the Voyagista facebook page to see the answer!

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