Northland’s unmissable landscapes is amongst the best North Island has to offer and making the trip north from Auckland will be one you won’t regret. Containing famous destinations such as the beautiful Bay of Islands, Ninety Mile Beach and Te Paki dunes, this is one region of New Zealand that you shouldn’t miss off your itinerary.
Northland’s Unmissable Landscapes
Take a ride along Ninety Mile Beach
Doubling as a highway, Ninety Mile Beach is actually a misnomer – it’s about two-thirds the distance it claims to be. That shouldn’t put you off visiting Northland’s unmissable landscapes, however, as the drive over the compacted sand will give you one of the best views in the country. Go on an organised tour, or at least put your vehicle in the hands of an experienced driver, as the incoming tide has caught out many an unsuspecting tourist. Having made the trek north, carry on up to dramatic Cape Reinga, the point at which the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide.
Go sand boarding on the dunes at Te Paki or Hokianga
North of Ninety Mile Beach, the dunes grow steadily to reach heights of up to 140 metres and lose their carpet of vegetation.
Te Paki is the favoured spot for those wishing to get an adrenaline rush hurtling down the dune towards the ocean. It’s easy to find a tour operator who’ll kit you out with a board and some sage advice not to open your mouth until you reach the bottom. Best of all, if you bring your own board it’s free. Three hours further south, you can repeat the whole experience by taking a water taxi from Opononi wharf to the Hokianga dunes.
Northland’s largest remaining stand of kauri trees
The Waipoua Forest, located on the west coast of Northland, is one of the best places in New Zealand to spot kauri forest. Declared a sanctuary in 1952, Waipoua is where you’ll find the ancient Te Matua Ngahere, which has the distinction of being the kauri with the largest girth. Take a scenic drive along SH12 to see not only kauri but also rimu and northern rata. Or stretch your legs on a walk through the forest to see some of the most famous trees, not only Te Matua Ngahere but also Tane Mahuta, nicknamed Lord of the Forest, and the Four Sisters.
The spectacular underwater world of Poor Knights
There’s nothing poor about the scenes that reward the diver or snorkeller at Poor Knights. These renowned areas impressed even Jacques Cousteau and a plethora of tunnels, arches and underwater cliffs richly reward visiting explorers. Rikoriko Cave is found there, the largest sea cave in the world. Sponge gardens and watery fields of kelp draw a multitude of fish, shellfish, anenomes and sea urchins; when the water warms up, they’re joined by swathes of stingrays.