Where: North of Auckland, New Zealand
When: February for the Fishing Contest and hip beach parties
Happenings: Wreck and cave diving, surfing and shellfish
Remember to Bring: Top party ‘togs’
Where it’s at
The region described as the Northland reaches from just north of Auckland, up to the far tip, known as Cape Reinga. The biggest town in the area is Whangarei, and a string of beautiful beaches run northwards from its northern suburb of Ngunguru. Just up the coast is Tutukaka and from here you can easily take trips out to the world famous Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve.
The Poor Knights Islands are a divers’ paradise, and one of Jacques Cousteau‘s top ten dive sites. There are over 50 dive spots around the islands, which boast very deep, clear waters, with many underwater arches, caves and tunnels, full of surprisingly colourful sea life. The combination of a rich supply of nutrients in the water and a sub tropical current attract large numbers of different species, particularly on the walls of the tunnels and caves. Some of the many treats to be seen here are the large fish such as gropers, moray eels and largestingrays. There are also a couple of wrecks off this coast, deliberately sunk here to create an artificial reef, and adding to the sense of the place as a diver’s playground. However, all visitors must remember that this area is a marine reserve, and therefore nothing must be left behind or taken away from the seabed or reefs.
For those who prefer to keep their holidays above water, there is always the amazing Ahipara, the Maori name for 90-mile beach (actually 90km, the mistake was a result of a misunderstanding between the French and English). This unusual beach is on the western side ofAupouri Peninsula, and is considered by many to be New Zealand’s most impressive beach. It also has something to offer everyone – the large, dramatic waves make it a great place to surf, and it is one of the cleanest places on earth, with sparkling clear waters, and ideal for all water sports. It offers some truly spectacular sunsets, and a natural theme park in the form of dunes to be explored, you can even gather shellfish at low tide, and barbeque them on the beach.
When to Go
The whole area has a subtropical climate, with wonderful balmy evenings in summer, making November to early April the most popular time to come, though the winter is still mild. February is probably the best time to visit 90 Mile Beach, both for the weather and the Annual Snapper Fishing Contest, when the whole place comes to life. Also in February, wild beach parties are held in Waipapakauri, making it the ideal place to come for a good time.
Local area information, including lists of possible activities
Main image: russellstreet, Creative Commons Attribution Licence
By Guilia Vincenzi