On the way to the remote outcrop of Cape Reinga, in the outer reaches of Northland, sit the large and impressive Te Paki Sand Dunes. Sink your toes into the pristine white and golden sands and bring a sandboard to zoom down the slopes.
The Te Paki Sand Dunes can reach up to 300 feet (100 meters) in height and are surrounded by one of the most diverse ecosystems in New Zealand.
Get ready for a good workout as you zigzag up the shifting sands. Wear light shoes or even go barefoot to allow the sand to flow over your feet and not weigh you down.
The award for your efforts comes at the top. Gaze around from your lofty vantage point and take in the desolate but beautiful natural scenery laid out before you. From this high up you can see that the dunes are part of a larger expanse of wetlands, hill country and coastal cliffs. The dunes, rugged rock formations, native grasslands and forest are home to many rare and endemic species of flora and fauna.
Experience the thrill of speeding down the slopes of the dunes on a sandboard, a short board just like a boogie board but with a base better suited to sand. Try different dunes for longer or shorter rides and steeper or gentler slopes. Protect your exposed limbs, watch out for other boarders and any obstacles at the bottom of the dune, and you can’t really go wrong.
Delve further into the dunes by heading down the four-wheel-drive track to Ninety Mile Beach. This can be done on a daytrip to the dunes with a suitable operator from a number of Northland towns or with your own vehicle if it can handle the terrain. Check local conditions and plan your route in advance to ensure minimum impact and a fun experience.
Entry to the Te Paki Sand Dunes is free of charge. Free parking and toilet facilities are available at the base of the dunes. Rent sandboards in the nearest towns. Guided sandboarding experiences are often part of the organized group tours to Cape Reinga.