The famed North Cape of New Zealand is located northwest of Auckland- the ‘foot’ of the ‘boot’, so to speak. Beautiful sandy beaches, countless islands of all shapes and sizes, friendly little towns, and more than it’s fair share of surprises, the North Cape is definitely worth a few days during your trip to New Zealand.
The North Cape is located just north of Auckland, making it easily accessible from the country’s primary gateway city. There are shuttle services, guided tours, bus routes, and hop-on/hop-off options for exploring the North Cape- it all depends on your budget and travel style.
Things to do in the North Cape
- Visit the Bay of Islands- a water-lover’s wonderland, the Bay of Islands is a spectacular destination for sailing, sport-fishing, scuba diving, and just about anything else one can do on the water. Take a day cruise, spend the night on one of the innumerable islands, or just relax one of the countless beach- the Bay of Islands does not disappoint.
- Check out 90-Mile Beach- a stretch of beach that runs for- you guessed it- 55 miles along the West Coast of the North Cape. A recognized federal highway, 90-Mile Beach is famous for surf-fishing, swimming, and sunbathing.
- Sandboarding- at the north end of 90-Mile Beach rise massive sand dunes, formed over eons of wind blowing in off the ocean. Bodyboarding down these dunes has become a huge tourist attraction, day-trippers hurling themselves down the dunes at breakneck speeds. The only downside- the hike up to the top of the dune...
- Visit Cape Reinga- a spectacular spot marking the separation of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Cape Reinga is also the traditional gateway to the afterlife for the spirits of the dead in Maori mythology. An remarkable place, for many reasons.
- Stand in awe in the Waipoua Forest- located near the tiny town of Hokianga Harbour, the Waipoua Forest is New Zealand’s largest kauri tree forest, and well worth a visit. Introduce yourself to Tane Mahuta- ‘Lord of the Forest’- and Te Matua Ngahere- ‘Father of the Forest’- two of the oldest living trees in the world. Thousands of years old, the massive kauri trees were nearly harvested out of existence in New Zealand’s early years, but this forest managed to escape the saws, thus preserving some of the most impressive trees in the world.
- Take your sun cream- and, if you’re prone to seasickness, your Dramamine- on your Bay of Islands cruise. The sun in New Zealand is STRONG, and even if the weather is fine, the seas can pick up very quickly.
- Take the twilight tour through the Waipoua Forest for a unique perspective of being in the forest at night, and some great insight into the traditional meaning and importance of the forest to the native Maori inhabitants.
- If you do a day trip up 90-Mile Beach to Cape Reinga, take a change of clothes, as you may get wet and/or sandy at some point along the way.
- When booking your Bay of Islands cruise, make sure it goes to the Hole in the Rock- a unique rock formation out in the bay. Awesome photos...
- If you decide to do the sandboarding, DON’T FALL OFF YOUR BODYBOARD. Ouch.