Reinga and Te Paki Sand Dunes
Tours, Attractions and Events in the Bay of Islands
and Accommodation in the Bay of Islands
and Pictures by Richard Moore
far Far North is an amazing place to spend time exploring.
It is beautiful, spiritual and accessible, yet at times
disconnected from the rest of the world.
are basic and the further north you go the more limited
phone coverage is dodgy, petrol stations scarce and you
should always have food and water in your car as we sometimes
found it a mission to locate an eatery.
Far North’s number one drawcard is Cape Reinga – almost
at the very tippy top of New Zealand – where you look out
to sea and realize that just about everything on the planet
is ahead of you.
can see the oceanic turmoil as the waters of the Tasman
Sea and Pacific Ocean collide off the cape and then become
days this is quite subtle, just a disturbance on the water’s
surface but, in stormy conditions, the crashing waves can
be as high as 10 metres.
The iconic lighthouse at Cape Reinga is small, but powerful,
with its 1000 watt bulb capable of firing its beam 49 kilometres
out to sea.
direction sign lets you know just how far you are from everything.
is almost 2000km away, Tokyo more than 9000km, Los Angeles
10,479km and London a whopping 18,029km distant.
bright yellow boards feature in just about every tourist’s
photo montage but, on closer inspection, the experience
is somewhat marred by dopey visitors plonking stickers on
lighthouse area has had a major facelift and the improved
pathway makes the cape more accessible, thankfully in a
low key way.
also gives you some great views of the ancient pohutukawa
tree that, according to legend, allows spirits to travel
north on their journey to Hawaiiki.
previous journey to Cape Reinga was an excellent a day-long
bus tour around the Far North from Paihia. We got to
see all sorts of key sights – including the giant kauri
Tane Mahuta – as well as zooming down 90 Mile Beach!
also had a brief stop at the Te Paki dunes so people could
whoosh down large sand slopes on boards.
this is the only problem with a bus trip. It is great to
get to see heaps of things in a relaxed manner, but you
can’t get too stay too long in one spot.
had 30 minutes at Cape Reinga and about the same at the
Te Paki dunes.
is why on this trip around the Far North I wanted to drive
and be able to see (read photograph) the places at leisure.
And it was a sensible choice as we were able to spend well
over an hour at Cape Reinga and more than two hours at Te
a blue-sky day the Te Paki dunes are wonders.
first one you see and climb on bus tours is impressive.
My lady went up it first and I followed, somewhat half-heartedly,
because I didn’t want sand in my boots, my camera gear was
heavy and, well, I was feeling lazy.
goodness I made the effort because when we reached the top
a new world opened up before us.
is an amazing sight as huge sand ridges line up before disappearing
into the distance towards the Tasman Sea.
Paki is just so different to most New Zealand landscapes.
These golden mountains put you straight on to the Lawrence
of Arabia set, I half expected to see someone on a camel
riding over the far horizon!
I did see two small figures approaching from the distance
- they were carrying boards.
can hire boards at a little stall near the car park on the
Te Paki stream and it looks an absolute hoot to zoom down
the dunes on them at breakneck speed.
from the occasional whoops of delight from board riders,
the Te Paki dunes area is really quiet.
is a stillness that is similar to being on the giant sand
dunes of southern Morocco.
for nature lovers, the Te Paki Recreation Reserve – which
straddles the northern tip of New Zealand – is one of the
most intact and diverse ecosystems you can visit.
Apart from the giant dunes there are steep coastal cliffs
and expansive wetlands that are home to many threatened
plants and animals.
time in the Te Paki dunes was one of the highlights of our
tour to the Far North, so if you are in the area make sure
you visit them.
do take the time to climb the first sand hill and explore
the stunning landscapes beyond – I promise you’ll be glad