Kaitaia is known as the gateway to the far north – it’s the last major town before you reach the top of New Zealand. From here you can take a tour to Cape Reinga and along Ninety Mile Beach (although the beach is classed as a road, rental car companies won’t let you drive their vehicles on the sand for safety reasons). Around Kaitaia you can sample wine at the country’s northernmost vineyard and visit the regional museum to learn about gum digging and Maori history. There’s also a Maori cultural centre, where you can try your hand at weaving and carving. Local adventure activities include 4WD tours of the gumfields and horse treks. Functional facts: Approx. population 5200, i-SITE Visitor Centre, good range of shops and services.