It's a part of the country you don't drive through unless you’ve set out to go there. It feels like what there rest of the North Island would have been like 30 years go — untouched, raw beauty.
A must-do for any New Zealander, Northland is a good one to tick off this summer.
Head up through Dargaville and pick up some giant kumara. When you arrive at Shipwreck’s Bay, you’ve reached the main base for 90 Mile Beach. There’s good surf, great fish n chips and a cool camping spot and tennis courts too.
90 Mile Beach, the long vast stretch of beach at the very top of the North Island, is classified as a road — it has a speed limit and drivers must stick to their lanes.
One of the best kept secrets is an old Pa site halfway up the coast adjacent to the main peninsula. If you pay Sammy $10, he’ll let you stay there for as long as you like. It has all you need — fresh water, a hose for showering and two toilets. There’s plenty of pipis from the beach, which Sammy will teach you to cook and flavour.
If the tides aren’t in your favour and you can’t drive along the beach, you can get to the Maunganui Bluff Campground through forestry roads.
The Te Puki sand dunes are a good day mission, BYO boogie board and if you have a 4WD you can drive through the river back to the beach.
Spirit’s Bay is also a good place to visit. It has a great family campground and lagoon and, being on the East Coast, is a slightly friendlier beach.
Cape Reigna is the northernmost point of the country. It’s pretty cool seeing the Tasman Sea meet the Pacific and create a dramatic washing machine effect just off the coast. There’s plenty of walks to do around the coast from the carpark.
Wild Horses hanging out in the campground.
Oddly enough, 90 Mile Beach is only 55 miles long. It’s a different world up there and definitely worth exploring.
Make your way home via Tane Mahuta, New Zealand’s oldest tree.