Ahipara is at the southern end of 90 Mile Beach. It’s home to incredible sunsets and it has one of the best left hand surf breaks in New Zealand. This unspoiled sandy beach is also popular for surfcasting, land yachting and shellfish gathering. You can learn to do the ‘Tuatua Twist’, which involves standing in the water at low tide and twisting your feet in the sand until you feel the telltale hard edges of tuatua. These shellfish are delicious made into fritters or simply steamed open.
Shipwreck Bay, to the left of the township, is aptly named. At low tide some of the wrecks are still visible. Above Shipwreck Bay is the Ahipara Gumfields Historic Reserve, where you can see relics from the kauri gum digging days and remnants of ancient kauri forests. In the late 1800s the gum fields supported two thousand people, three hotels and numerous shops. Bullock teams carted the gum to waiting ships at Shipwreck Bay.
The subtropical town of Ahipara is a relaxed place. In the Maori language, Ahipara means ‘sacred fire’, in reference to a fire that was kept constantly burning by the local Te Rarawa people. Visitors to Ahipara can enjoy quad biking, walking in the gumfields and horse riding. Sliding down the huge sand dunes on body boards (known as dune surfing) is awesome fun.