Distance: 35 km
· Time: 4 days
· Grade: Easy / Moderate
· Higest point: 285 m
Day One: ~10 km, 4 hrs
You are dropped off about 2km from Ninety Mile Beach at the back side of the sand dunes, from here you will hike out to the water along the stream, and then turn and follow Ninety Mile Beach to its end, about 2km more. The next portion you climb into a coastal hill, following the stairs up, and their are small posts marking the trail, which is well maintained for the most part. Follow on the hill for about 2km, then back down to a nice little beach (Twilight Beach). Continue along the beach, till its end.
Here was the first time I think I got lost. On the map, there is a trail that heads inland right towards the end of the beach, I saw trail markers maybe 200m from the end of the beach, at about the right spot, and assumed that was the trail heading inland. I continued on and couldn't really see a trail at the end of the beach, but there was a very small water runout, that looked like it had been walked before. Needless to say, this took me into a martian-type landscape, but I continued until I finally saw the trail markers, and traversed back to them. I don't think I went the correct way, but I made it, just continue up hill until you see the markers, or try the marked trail!
From here you will tramp over some rolling hills down towards the old lighthouse, which is about an 1 1/2 return from the trail, branching off before you round Herangi Hill (looks like a sand volcano). I didn't take it, but it looked like a really cool place to go explore down near the water. Continuing on, you will pass behind Herangi Hill, and then drop down to a small stream, which is a good water source, and where I camped the first night. My guess is that quite a few people camp here, as it is only an hour hike from the Cape Reinga parking area, but for me, I had the whole beach to myself.
Day Two: ~15km, 6 hrs
Day two is the most difficult day, going from the hills and back 3 times, but it also has the best views. Departing in the morning, you will cross a few km of beach, and then hike up the hill to the lighthouse. There is water and restrooms at the lighthouse, and if you want to send out a mid-tramp letter, their are post boxes!
From the lighthouse area, you will descend steeply to Sandy Bay. This place is gorgeous! I would highly recommend camping here. I was very jealous of the solitary camper who was packing up his tent as I tramped by. It is a very small beach, about 30m wide, in a little inlet, with hills rising above it on both sides, beautiful little hideaway. If you are after a super short night out, park at the carpark, and cruise down to this hideout.
Continuing on, you will climb back into the hills for another 1.5km. Here the trail was pretty overgrown, and also quite steep, but you shouldn't have a hard time finding it. After this segment, you will descend to the Tapotupotu campground. This is a full on campground, so in summer, I would run as fast as possible from this place, it looked like there was room for a couple hundred tents or campervans, and I was suddenly glad it wasn't summer yet. Past the campground, you cross a stream, and head back up the hills. There are two trails departing from here, the one you will want is straight up the hill. If you pass the water faucet, or the gate, you are on the wrong one. This portion climbs steeply into the hills, but has some great views, and at some points you are right over the water, with a hundred meters straight down to the water. After a while, you will reach the summit, and then descend on to a road as you go along a ridge for about 2km. There is a deceptive trail, that I was convinced was the trail, but had a bad feeling about, it heads straight north, and is wide enough for a 4x4, but don't turn of the trail until you see a sign pointing you to Pandora! At the sign you do a switch back and hike almost back in the same direction, and on down towards Pandora. There is a lot of space at Pandora available to camp at, and a few sources of water. A good place to sit down and enjoy the sunset.
Day Three: ~9km, 2.5hrs
I was walking pretty fast for this section (see Appendix A), but essentially you just cruise around Spirits bay, which is a whole lot of beach, if it had been warmer, I probably would have stopped, and jumped in, and just taken my time. The campground and pick up are at the end of the beach, and this is where I just hung out for the rest of the day, and was picked up the next morning.
Hazards Tracks may be slippery in wet weather, and larger streams may be un-crossable: you may not be able to cross some streams at around high tide and you may need to wait for the tide to recede. Take care when climbing around rocky headlands. The best time is at low tide, because when the tide is up, large waves may wash up the rocks and climbing may become difficult or even dangerous. Cell-phone reception is virtually non-existent. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. There are plenty of mosquitoes and sandflies. Do not leave valuables in your car, and do not leave your vehicle unattended while undertaking the tramp, as vehicle break-ins occur.
Managed by Te Paki Field Centre, phone: 09 409 8427 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 09 409 8427 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Cape Reinga and Te Paki are located at the northernmost area of New Zealand on the small, narrow Aupouri Peninsula, approximately 60km north of Kaitaia. Just follow SH1 north. From Te Paki onwards, follow Cape Reinga Road. Cape Reinga Road is an unsealed road and gets very busy over the summer months. Please drive slowly and take extra caution.
You have vehicle access to:
Kapowairua – turn off SH1 at Waitiki Landing on to Te Hapua Road and then Spirits Bay Road.
Tapotupotu – the turn off from Cape Reinga Road to Tapotupotu is signposted.
Cape Reinga – follow SH1 and Cape Reinga Road until you reach the tar-sealed car park.
Te Paki Stream – turn off Cape Reinga Road at Te Paki on to Te Paki Stream Road.
This stunning coastal walkway traverses a variety of beautiful and unique landforms, and offers spectacular views of the cape region. The walkway follows the coastline of Te Paki, and runs from Kapowairua / Spirits Bay on the East Coast, past Cape Reinga, Cape Maria van Dieman and Te Paki Stream on the West Coast. From there, you can continue along 90 Mile Beach all the way to Ahipara.
The walkway is made up of interlinking track sections, which lead you across dunes, idyllic beaches, dramatic headlands, swamps filled with birdlife and pasture. Along the way, you have access to areas of historic and archaeological interest in the Te Paki Farm Park.
The walkway is made up of interlinking track sections, which lead you across dunes, idyllic beaches, dramatic headlands, swamps filled with birdlife and pasture. Along the way, you have access to areas of historic and archaeological interest in the Te Paki Farm Park. You can attempt the whole walkway or choose just one or several track sections that suit your time available, fitness level and areas of interest. Track sections range from 30 minutes to several hours duration. Track categories vary between Walking Track and Tramping Track. Trampers need to be self-sufficient.
Include diving, snorkelling and fishing
Opportunities for outdoor recreation are endless, from enjoying the stunning views, bird watching and tramping to all kinds of water sports. The East Coast is generally more sheltered with sandy bays suitable for water sports and rocky headlands where fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving are popular. The West Coast is more wild and exposed than the East, with spectacular golden sand dunes. You can explore the area on your own, or there are a good number of tourism operators offering specially designed tours.
Places to stay
Kapowairua (Spirits Bay) campsite, Tapotupotu campsite. “Freedom/leave no trace” camping is available along the trail, it is free, but there are no facilities provided. The independent traveller reviews speak for themselves!
For further information: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/northland/kaitaia-area/cape-reinga-coastal-walkway/