About Ninety Mile Beach
This famous Far North beach will capture your imagination and your heart.
Where is Ninety Mile Beach?
Just below Cape Reinga on Northland’s west coast, Ninety Mile Beach (also known as Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē) is a long sandy beach that appears to stretch on forever. It runs from Scott Point in the north and sweeps down the coast past the town of Ahipara to Reef Point at its southern end.
Ninety Mile Beach History
The name isn’t accurate at all, by the way. Ninety Mile Beach is actually around 55 miles (88 kilometres) long. The story goes that the early European settlers named it because they knew their horses could travel up to 30 miles in a day. So if the trip along the beach took them three days, it must be 90 miles long, right? Unfortunately, they didn’t account for the slower pace of travelling on sand.
The Māori name for the beach, Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe, is much more appropriate. It means ‘The Long Beach of Tōhe.’ Tōhe was a highly-ranked chief in the Ngāti Kahu iwi (tribe), who lived in Spirits Bay (Kapowairua) to the east of Cape Reinga. He travelled south to visit his daughter and named many places along his way.
Back in the 1930s, the first airmail services from Australia used to land on Ninety Mile Beach, but it’s no longer used as a runway.
What to do at Ninety Mile Beach
On Ninety Mile Beach you can take stunning photos, surf-cast, or kick off your shoes and dig for pipi (a native shellfish).
The most important thing to do when visiting Ninety Mile Beach is to look around and take in the amazing views. Watch the sand stretching out into the distance in every direction, marvel at the giant open sky above, and gaze out towards the empty sea.
Ninety Mile Beach is an official New Zealand highway. However, most rental car agreements don’t cover driving on this beach due to the risks. We reckon driving on its sands and navigating the tides is best left to the professionals!
A Cape Reinga day tour includes time on Ninety Mile Beach – your driver guide will drive along the beach while you enjoy the view and take photos. You’ll also stop on the beach so you can experience the sand underfoot, and the salty breeze in your hair.
Cape Reinga day tours also include a stop at Te Paki Stream, at the northern end of Ninety Mile Beach. Here you’ll find gigantic golden sand dunes, perfect for surfing down on a body board! Again, we recommend sand surfing under the instruction of your driver guide as there are some risks involved.