Ninety Mile Beach is not your typical exotic tourist attraction, but rather a long stretch of majestic coastline waiting to share its secrets with the adventurous. Don’t be fooled by the name either, because this stretch of wild coast is nowhere near 90 miles in length, 90 kilometres (55 miles) would be closer, but it still remains an awesome stretch of sand.
One possible explanation for this misnomer dates back to when missionaries travelled the length of the beach by horse. They knew a horse could travel 30 miles in a day, and as it took them 3 days to make it from end to end, the beach must have been 90 miles long. However, the horses would have been slower on the sand.
This fascinating beach tracks the west coast of Northland’s Aupouri Peninsula, on the North Island in the Land of the Long Cloud, following the coastal contours starting from Ahipara in the south, right up to the northern-most tip of New Zealand at Cape Reinga. The former is the popular start point for specialist vehicle expeditions, and is some 9 miles west of Kaitaia on National Route 1. Basic camping and Bed & Breakfast facilities are available in Ahipara, where visitors forsake the creature comforts of big city life in exchange for the great outdoors.
The most popular pursuits along 90 Mile Beach are driving, biking, blokarting (land yachting), fishing, horse riding, surfing and sand surfing on the huge dunes. You can swim too, but safety in numbers please, and keep in mind that there are no lifeguards along these shores!
If you are planning to drive along the coast here are some driving guidelines:
* Check rental agreement exclusions carefully
* Keep a full tank of fuel and take drinking water
* Approach streams slowly and engage low gear
* Look at tide timetables and set off 3 hours after high tide
* No night driving, don’t get lost and stay close to your vehicle
Enjoy the ride!