Best bits your only guide to a great holiday
Fascinating dangerous currents and shifting sand bars continuously moving with the surging ocean and high tides beguile visitors. The Kaipara Harbour is an adventure. It is not uncommon to find ancient fossilised embedded kauri logs up to 50,000 years old exposed by wind and sand. The coast is a variable treasure trove of shipwrecks. The sand exposes wrecks and then hides them again in the shifting sands. Journey along the Kaipara Harbour beaches with the Tasman sea stretching endlessly on one side, and rolling sand-dunes, cliffs and native grasses on the other side.
The beach has a variety of activities with swimming at the bottom of the list. A wild surf ocean beach directly exposed to the Tasman sea is a brilliant place for sand yachting, hang gliding from the cliffs, surfing and shore fishing. There are a number of tour operators offering horse trekking and 4WD tours of the longest drivable beach in New Zealand. For visitors hankering after a geology exploration the beach is a treasure. There are shipwrecks, fossilised ancient kauri trees, kauri gum in lignite rocks and evidence of the changing climate through the millennium. The beach is home to a permanent community with a cafe, toilets and convenience stores.
Baylys is a superb beach for winter walks with plenty of driftwood to forage among sea deposited finds. A community created walk between Baylys Beach and Chases Gorge is a fun expedition for all age groups. There are sweeping views of the majesty of Ripiro Beach and a mini Grand Canyon to look for embedded fossils in the rock faces. The loop trail is possible via the beach if there is a low tide.
The walk starts at the reserve behind the beach. Baylys Beach has a well known cafe, a favourite of the intrepid surfer with its classic fish n chip inviting visitors to picnic on the beach complete with wind whipped sand (possible) as a dressing for the fried food.
Over 107km of drivable beach sand is the longest beach road in New Zealand. The sand is consistently moving on Kauri Coast beaches. The beach is rideable 2 ½ hours either side of low tide (check Pouto tides) as the low tide exposes the hard sand. Ride in either direction
Locals advice riding into the wind to make your return easier. Glinks Gully entrance has toilets, parking and vehicle access to the beach. For other points of access check with the local visitor centre for up to date information.
MAUNGANUI BLUFF BEACH
Maunganui Bluff beach is an amazing example of the wild and rugged west coast of Northland, New Zealand. The austere coast faces the Tasman Sea and standing on the beach looking to the horizon there is no land for over 2,000 kms until you reach Australia. Maunganui Bluff Ocean beach is another walking beach where the crashing waves are a constant reminder of the power of underwater currents. The beach is not a safe swimming area. The rock formations are a drawcard for geology buffs. Aranga beach has eroding remnants of the Waipoua Shield Volcano. The basalt lava flows and dikes’ distinctive flows are very visible. It is strongly advised to be careful under the unstable cliff faces and to visit only within 1 – 2 hours of low tide.
Traditionally the area was a rich source of seafood with mussels and other crusteau offering a constant source of nourishment. The clean gold sandy beach stretches north to Pouto Point and the lighthouse. Swimming is not recommended.
For surround sound views of the landscape there is a Department of Conservation walk up the Maunganui Bluff. The well marked DOC track to the summit starts at the end of Aranga Beach Coast Road. For the less enthusiastic walkers try the first section of the walk for some rewarding views of the beach.
Families who want a paddle there are safe and stunning Kai Iwi Lakes
POUTO POINT AND SHIPWRECK COAST
Finding the entrance to Kaipara Harbour without distinguishing landmarks took its toll on nineteenth century mariners. There are 112 confirmed shipwrecks with undoubtedly more.
The located shipwrecks are in shallow water, buried in the shifting sand dunes known as the Valley of wrecks or The Graveyard.
The beautiful remote Omamari beach is the site of the only, and still unconfirmed, wreckage of the SS Turakina, which was destroyed in a gunbattle with the German gunboat the Orion in the Tasman Sea in August 1940.
TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION
The Kauri coastline continues onto the Hokianga harbour and the contrasting landscape of the ocean beach of Ripiro and the quieter waters of the Hokianga are detailed in Hokianga Harbour beaches and walks.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDES