Head north in search of New Zealand’s sensational surf and discover the wild, desolate black sand beaches of the ‘Winterless North’.
Get amongst the big west coast swells powering in from the Tasman Sea – endless lines of rollers stacked to the horizon. When the ‘Old Man’ southerly bluster is pushing up the waves, the place to be is Shipwreck Bay, Ahipara (16 kms west of Kaitaia). This surfing mecca at the southern tip of the famous Ninety Mile Beach has one of New Zealand’s best left-hand point breaks. It was featured in the ground breaking 1960’s surf movie ‘The Endless Summer’, and has never looked back since then as a popular surfing venue. The bay performs well on all tides and given big swells, can produce exhilarating rides several minutes long.
Mukerau Beach is 2 kms west of Shipwreck Bay and offers waves, which are usually twice as big. Access can be tricky through gaps in the many reefs but if you’re amped up and carving in the ‘supertubes’ section, you can pull off kilometre long rides. From Mukerau Beach the west coast stretches over 200 kms down to the Kaipara Harbour with many uncharted beach breaks awaiting exploration. Access can be difficult to these untouched bays and headlands and often requires permission to cross farmland.
Half way up the Ninety Mile Beach is a prominent reef called The Bluff (64 kms from Awanui), which has excellent beach breaks on both sides. The prevailing southerly swells produce the best waves on the north side around mid tide. Entry off the outer rocks needs care, as there are numerous rips. Camping is available but access from the beach to the campsite and inland to Te Kao is via a soft sand track only negotiable by 4WD vehicles. If you have time cruise up to Scott Point for some challenging beach and point breaks.
At Cape Reinga view the spectacular merging of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Consistently good beach breaks exist at Spirits Bay and Tapotupotu Bay where camping is permitted. As each flawless summer day dawns you will hear the sweet music of white water surging up the beach.
Northland’s scenic wonders are there for you to savour, both on and off the water.