Stage 11: Northland Ninety Mile Beach

map-stage10February 10-15, 2005 Near the end of our holiday, we decided to rent a car for a few days! We’d spent more days than we originally planned on our North Island cycling tour, leaving us a short on time to cycle the Northland. Also, going from Auckland to the Northland would have involved a lot of cycling on busy, narrow roads. After calling around (all major rental companies such as Budget and Hertz had absolutely no cars available at all!) we found a small Honda at a local rental place.

ninety-mile-beach1Ninety Mile Beach isn’t ninety miles long. It is closer to sixty miles, but it is a spectacular beach nonetheless. There are several points where you can access the beach; these pictures were taken around Waipapakauri, near the south-end of the beach.
ninety-mile-beach2One of the big attractions of Ninety Mile Beach is that you can drive your car on it—providing the tide is out. It seems a bit odd to me to travel all this way to see this beautiful piece of nature so you can drive you car on it; as if we don’t spend enough time in our cars.

paihia-bay-of-islandsView of the Bay of Islands from Paihia. We spent several days in Paihia, a touristy town, that made a good base to see the area. The Bay of Islalnds is rich in history. Waitangi, near Paihia, is where the first treaty between the British and Maori was signed.

hakianga-harbourThe mouth of Hokianga Harbour seen from the inside of the inlet, looking out to the Tasman sea. The shoreline here is marked by big sand-dune, like the one in this picture. Sliding down these hills on crazy-carpets is another big past-time for tourists.

hakianga-harbour2Inlet from the Tasman sea to Hokianga Harbour — Near Omapere on the west coast of the Northland.

On our way from Paihia to Auckland we took highway 14, which runs along the west coast of the Northland. We stopped in Opononi for morning coffee and shortly after saw a sign to a lookout. We followed the road and were surprised with this great view over the mouth of Hokianga Harbour. A great sandbank at the mouth of the inlet created a wide stretch of surf.

tasman-seaThe beach on the Tasman Sea side of the inlet. The waves were bigger than this photo suggests.

kauri-tree1One of the oldest Kauri trees still standing, in the Waipoua Forest Park on the west-side of the Northland. Kauri trees were once plentiful in New Zealand, but they were actively harvested and only a few old trees remain. Because of their long straight trunks, the trees made excellent timber for ships and buildings. This tree is estimated to be about 800 years old. Its trunk is five meters in circumference, and up to the crown of branches is about 21 meters in height. The crown of branches adds another 25 meters or so to the overall height.