Air NZ's top 10 picks for Kaitaia

Surfing thrills in giant northern sand dunes

Just north of Kaitaia, New Zealand’s northern most town, an exhilarating, any age and all ability sport is taking hold in the giant Te Paki sand dunes.

Dubbed ‘sand surfing’, the sport involves taking on the sandy monsters – the highest of which can reach 2000 metres – with nothing more than a board and hurtling down at adrenalin rushing speed.

Local expert, Rose Lazarus, who runs a Maori eco-tourism company in the area, says with a few technique tips and safety advice, the sport is within anyone’s reach.

“Sand surfing is a sport for all ages, sizes and fitness levels and everyone gets the same thrill and excitement as well as the buzz of ‘we did it’.”

Beginners tend to ride the boards on their stomachs while the more advanced can tackle the descent standing up. Whatever your stance, you are well advised to keep your mouth closed to avoid a gritty after taste.

The Te Paki sand dunes are just one of the many attractions in the region and Kaitaia is natural base to explore this extraordinarily beautiful and mystical part of New Zealand. Sand surfing aside,

Our top 10 picks include:

  • 90 Mile Beach – this unbroken  stretch of white sand is actually closer to 90 kilometres in length (64 miles and 103 kilometres to be exact) and is an inspiring spot to explore independently or on a guided bus tour, quad bike expedition or horse trek

  • Cape Reinga – see the Tasman Sea meet the Pacific Ocean at the northern tip of New Zealand which is also home to a landmark lighthouse

  • Far North Regional Museum – explore the area’s intriguing mix of Maori and Dalmatian ancestry

  • Golf – the Kaitaia Golf Club at Ahipara is a highly regarded 18 hole all season links course running parallel to 90 Mile Beach with magnificent views out to the Tasman Sea

  • Rarawa Beach – a great spot for diving, snorkelling, fishing, sea kayaking and bird watching (a breeding spot for the Northern New Zealand dotterel and Variable oyster catcher)

  • Gumdiggers Park – an over 100 year old Kauri gum digging site worked by Dalmatian and Maori gum diggers. From 1870 to 1920 gum digging was the major source of income in Northland

  • Ancient Kauri Kingdom -  see the making process and buy products made from  45,000 year old Kauri logs extracted from local farmland

  • Game fishing

  • Vineyards – the region is home to New Zealand’s two most northern vineyards, Okahu Estate and Carringtons Vineyard

  • Tua tuas – have a go at gathering the popular shell fish, tua tua, from the sands of 90 Mile Beach. They are eaten raw, baked in the shell, minced for fritters or made into soup


Air New Zealand flies to Kaitaia from Auckland linking it with 25 other destinations on the domestic network. For information and to book flights to Kaitaia visit