Sweet Northland Beaches


New Zealand has some fantastic beaches. They’re plentiful, pristine, and varied. On the way north we saw calm, sheltered bays. On the way back south towards Auckland we visited two much more spectacular ones. The first was Rarawa Beach, a long strip of black and white sand with shallow water and small but powerful waves.


Like many other beaches in New Zealand this one has a massive stretch of sand, 50 meters or more from the high water mark to the edge of the water, perfectly flat. The sand at these beaches tends to be constantly compacted and a little wet, no wispy yellow clouds dogging your steps.


When we got there, no one was swimming. Of the half dozen or so people there, not a one seemed interested in touching the water. We’ve been to beaches that look great but have massive “no swimming” warnings, we hoped this wasn’t one of them.


In we went, boogie board serving its purpose fantastically. The issue with the beach, as it turns out, is that the water is very cold. Not instantly numb cold, but uncomfortably cold. I always hesitate at the first submersion, Natalie jumped right in. After getting out the chill persisted. Even with the bright sun, the wind was just strong enough to keep us mildly shivering until we towelled off and got in the car. Which I guess explains why no one was swimming.


A quick shower and a bit of driving later, we were presented with a view of forever. The landscape in New Zealand does this a lot. Not so far after that, we got to see how the country handles logging.


At first it seemed like any other logging site, but bigger. Huge swathes of countryside laid bare, devoid of trees, grass growing in small patches. Any logging site looks a bit sad to me, a manmade scar on the land. With good practices though, the land heals, more trees grown, and the logging is sustainable.


This site looked abandoned. There were none of the usual markings of a next harvest – neat rows of tiny trees. Weirdly, piles of sun-bleached logs lay all over the place. Natalie, who knows more than I do about trees, noted that the remaining logs must have been there a long time to get that bone white, even in this weather.


We’re not sure what the context was here, but for a country as obsessed with its nature as New Zealand seems to be, something feels amiss. Our best guess was that the logging company finished up, and left the useless logs on site.


We continued south and wound up at the southern end of Ninety-Mile Beach. Though the beach is only fifty five miles in actual length, it may as well be five hundred as viewed from any one point. It goes on forever in either direction.


The thing to do on this beach is drive. It’s legally a road and any 4×4 can go down it. The drivers here tend to go pretty fast so it’s good to keep an eye and ear out. The other thing to do here is stare at the sky and surf. This is one of the best looking shorelines we’ve seen. The sky and the surf are enchanting, espectially near sunset.




The sand here is a shiny¬†brownish-black and much of the beach is covered in a thin film of water. It’s a lot of fun to walk on, but flip flops have a habit of getting suctioned¬†down making it hard. The water has a tendency to bury lots of pretty shells under just a thin layer of sand. We spent a good hour beach combing and looking up at the ever-shifting cloudscape.


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