Northland’s unmissable landscapes

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: Northland Sand Dunes New Zealand
Northland Sand Dunes: Photo (c) albertpalenshoots

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.

Northland's Unmissable Landscapes: All alone on 90 Mile Beach New Zealand
All alone on 90 Mile Beach: Photo on Flickr by Niklas Morberg / CC BY-NC 2.0

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.

Northland's Unmissable Landscapes: A hint of the past, Northland Sand Dunes
A hint of the past, Northland Sand Dunes: Photo (c) albertpalenshoots

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 unmissable landscapes. Sandboarding at Te Paki
Sandboarding at Te Paki: Namastê / CC BY 2.0

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.

Tane Mahuta, Waipoua Forest Northland New Zealand
Tane Mahuta, Waipoua Forest: Photo on Flickr by itravelNZ / CC BY 2.0

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.

Fishy camouflage in the Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand
Fishy camouflage in the Poor Knights Islands: Photo on Flickr by taquiman / CC BY-SA 2.0

About JuliaHammond


Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

Other posts by the Author

One Response

  1. Ninety Mile Beach: A Challenging Drive - Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] early European settlers reached Ninety Mile Beach, in New Zealand’s Northland, they had no way of measuring distances accurately.  Instead, they estimated, based on […]


Leave a Reply