TRAVEL NEW ZEALAND. PART 2 - THE FAR NORTHWEST COAST

The northern most tip of New Zealand is unique! It is the meeting place of two oceans and is not to be missed. To the west and separating it from Australia, 2000km away is the Tasman Sea. On the east is the southern Pacific Ocean. The line at the meeting of the seas, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean is clearly visible at Cape Reinga.

To travel from Auckland, get onto the northern motorway and head over the harbour bridge that connects Auckland City to its North Shore. Staying on the main road, you head north to the town of Warkworth which is at end of the motorway. There are two routes from Warkworth to Cape Reinga. The main highway goes all the way to the cape and in 2010, the last 19 kilometers of road was paved, making the entire journey much more pleasant.


Prior to the 1950's, New Zealand was known for its corrugated roofs on many of its homes and its bone shaking corrugated roads.

If your plan is to get to the very tip of New Zealand quickly and then meander your way slowly south, take the main highway for the shortest route. Accommodation in the Cape Reinga area is readily available. If you are camping, there are a number of good camp grounds in the area with a tourist information centre at Waitiki located 20 kilometers from Cape Reinga and a one hour drive from Kaitaia, the most northern large town with a population of around 5,000.


There are many areas to visit in Northland; one of the most impressive being Ninety Mile Beach on the west coast. Stretching from Scott Point at the northern end to the small town of Ahipara at the southern end, Ninety Mile Beach is a beautiful stretch of sandy surf beach with huge sand dunes as its eastern backdrop.

The beach is actually 58 miles long and is designated as a highway. Be warned though; car rental companies do not allow their vehicles to be driven on the beach which is actually best driven with a four wheel drive. The beach got its name from early farmers who actually just guessed its length and the name stuck. The sand dunes are a favorite spot for the sport of sand surfing.


This beach coast area is home to beautiful sunsets and is a popular surfing spot and known for great surfcasting fishing, land-yachting and shellfish gathering. Here, you can learn the ‘Tuatua Twist’. Standing in the water at low tide and twisting your feet in the sand until you feel the telltale hard edges of a Tuatua shellfish, a local seafood delicacy. me old ship wrecks are still visible at Shipwreck Bay near the town. You can also visit the Ahipara Gumfields Historic Reserve. In the 1800s these gum fields provided work for over two thousand people and boasted three hotels and many shops. Kauri gum was used to make jewellery, keepsakes, and small decorative items and like amber sometimes included small insects and plant material.

Kataia is a good base for exploring the region north of the town. There are many very good B&B's in in and around the town as well as hotels and motor lodges. If you are a low budget traveller and find accommodation with cooking facilities, there are several supermarkets in the town. Kaitaia also boasts an excellent visitor information centre providing maps and guide books on the many hiking trails and magical view points in the northwest area of Northland.

The Northland climate is subtropical with warm humid summers and mild wet winters and has an average of 2000 sunshine hours annually. If you enjoy hiking, good shoes are advisable as is rain gear. The tail ends of tropical storms occasionally reach Northland but hurricane force winds are very rare. However, other storms of tropical origin affect Northland about once or twice each year, mainly between the months of December and April which are the down-under summer months.


Next post. Northland's east coast.

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© 2011 BY Shanique Byrd