Top of the North

With icons like Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga, the very top of New Zealand offers breath-taking scenery and memorable experiences.

Te Hiku o Te Ika Nui a Maui | Top of the North

The sheer beauty of the top of New Zealand will astound you. Rangiputa is a tropical paradise with white sands and palm trees. Discover the pure quartz sand at Parengarenga Harbour, and sand board down the huge Te Paki Sand Dunes. Reaching the iconic lighthouse at Cape Reinga is a must-do, but what takes most by surprise is the journey itself - is as exciting as the destination; some arrive early to sit and watch the sun come up. Te Hiku o Te Ika nui a Maui = The Tail of the Great Fish of Maui

  • Hidden gems
    • Kaitaia’s Te Ahu Centre is visually spectacular – the atrium’s ‘stingray’ floor and pou (carvings) will inspire
    • Climb the (steep) ‘Dukes Nose’ for spectacular views of Whangaroa Harbour
    • See 40,000 to 150,000 year old ancient buried kauri forests exposed at Gumdiggers Park
    • Claiming biggest ice cream status in the country at the Te Kao local store, try their six-scooper!
    • Stunning Maitai Bay with its crystal-clear waters and scenic campsite
  • Dining
    • Casual seaside dining at the world-famous fish shop in Mangonui is a must do when in Northland; you can watch the fishing boats arrive with their fresh catch of fish
    • Across the bay on the Karikari Peninsula Carrington Estate offers regionally sourced nature to plate dining as well as estate wine. 
    • There are a range of cuisine options in Kaitaia, and many eateries dotted around the top of the north such as North Drift Café in Ahipara.

      Food, Wine & Markets  
  • Shopping
    • You will find many art, craft and gift shops off and on the beaten track
    • Kaitaia is a large service town with supermarkets and retail outlets
    • In Doubtless Bay shops are mainly centered on the Mangonui waterfront, Coopers Beach and Taipa and offer crafts, clothes and gifts

      Markets Shops & Galleries
  • Getting there
    • Kaitaia is approximately four hours’ drive North of Auckland
    • Kaitaia Airport is 15 minutes’ drive from Kaitaia and 25 minutes’ drive from Ahipara
    • Approximate flight time is 60 minutes from Auckland - taxis and rental cars are available

      Transport options
Te Hiku o Te Ika / Top of the North

Must dos

→ Journey to the top of NZ and witness two oceans collide
→ Sandboard down the giant sand dunes at Te Paki
→ Take a coach trip along Ninety Mile Beach
→ Dine over the water at world famous Mangonui Fish Shop
→ Take a water taxi to explore eroded volcanoes at Whangaroa

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Towns & Villages

  • Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach

    Witness the meeting of two oceans at Cape Reinga – a spiritual place for Māori where the spirits of the departed leap to begin the voyage back to their final resting place in the ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.

    Ninety Mile Beach is a fabled strip of sand that is really only 55 miles long; it is actually a highway with a 100km speed limit! We recommend a coach tour from Kaitaia or Paihia so you don’t have to worry about dodging waves or getting your wheels stuck in the sand. Watch the surfcasters reel in their catch, stop and dig for tuatuas (shellfish) and sand board down giant dunes at Te Paki.

    The picturesque settlement of Houhora Heads is long, narrow, and has a mostly sheltered harbour, great for camping alongside. 

     

  • Kaitaia and Ahiparapara

    Kaitaia is the main service centre of the ‘Far North’ from where many tours to Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach depart. The Te Ahu Centre reflects the rich and diverse local cultures of Māori and Dalmatian ancestry, and hosts an i-SITE, museum, cinema, and a stunning atrium with a grand entrance of pou (wood carvings) outside.

    Lake Ngatu is a recreation reserve north-west of Kaitaia, with a freshwater dune lake, and family-friendly 4km loop track which is popular with both locals and visitors. 

    Just 14km to the southwest of Kaitaia is the seaside town of Ahiparapara, at the south end of Ninety Mile Beach. During the late 19th century, the area was known for kauri gum digging. Te Kohanga Shipwreck Bay at the southern point of Ahiparapara contains a number of wrecks visible at low tide and is a popular surfing spot. 

  • Doubtless Bay and Karikari Peninsula

    Be enchanted by Mangonui, a truly colonial fishing village faithfully depicting yesteryear - it has some wonderful historic buildings to be discovered when walking the Heritage Trail. Waterfront dining is almost guaranteed here, with restaurants, art galleries, gift shops, and accommodation lining the aptly named Waterfront Rd. 

    Rangikapiti Pā stands watch over the Mangonui Harbour entrance and provides stunning views over Doutbless Bay. The bay is a beach paradise encompassing the settlements of Coopers Beach, Cable Bay, Taipa and Whatuwhiwhi to name but a few, with safe, sandy beaches that are popular with families, and home to spectacular beachfront accommodation. 

    Once an island, the stunning Karikari Peninsula connects to the mainland at historic Lake Ohia. 18km long Tokerau Beach which is a surf-casters dream and beach settlement Whatuwhiwhi frame the western edge of Doubtless Bay. On the other side of the peninsula, the white sand beaches of Karikari, Puwheke and Rangiputa mark the eastern shores of Rangaunu Bay. Quirky Rotopotaka Lake, also known as Coca-Cola Lake for its unique peat-stained colour, is a popular swimming spot, but the Karikari Peninsula is most well-known for iconic Maitai Bay. The picturesque and sheltered beach is perfect for swimming and snorkelling and the campground can be booked for overnight stays. 

    For those who prefer to leave the tent at home, a 3000-acre estate awaits down the road, complete with championship golf course and winery. Extensive wetlands nearby support breeding populations of numerous birds, and besides birdwatching, activities in the area include horse riding, kitesurfing and more. 

  • Whangaroa Harbour and Matauri Bay

    Whangaroa is known as the Marlin Capital of New Zealand and fishing in general is popular here. A harbour tour will give you an insight into the history of the towering volcanic rock outcrops, formed as water eroded the volcanic debris of 20 million years ago.

    A water taxi and shuttle service is available for pick up from Wairakau Stream/Lane Cove walking track and return to Totara North. Several other waling tracks can be found around the area including the Mahinepua Peninsula Track, and great beaches line the coastline, including the popular holiday spot Matauri Bay. World-class golf course and luxury lodge Kauri Cliffs overlooks the sea here. 

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