90-Mile Beach (A7)

Ninety-Mile Beach drive, Far North New Zealand.

GPS Waipapakauri: -35.040077 173.167533

GPS Hukatere: -34.898751 173.084670

GPS Te Paki: -34.549017 172.757835

Driving on 90-Mile Beach is prohibited by most all rental car agencies.  But if this is not you, then the long drive on this perfectly straight and flat beach is a super-fun do-it-yourself adventure.  Beware though, like any true adventure, this one has an element of danger too…but that’s what makes it fun and a minr challenge.  The first major trick to successfully driving the entire length of the beach is to avoid driving on any dry, soft sand.  For a 2WD car/van dry soft sand is a death sentence.  You need to time the drive withing 3 hours of low tide so that there is plenty of wetsand exposed by the low tide to drive on.  You need to drive on the third of the beach nearest to the water–the wetsands.  Often before driving on any NZ beach (with my 2WD, rear-wheel drive Toyota vans)a try to collect some planks of wood—1×4, 2×4 or anything like that, just in case of making a mistake and driving into soft sand and digging in the tires.  If this happens, STOP IMMEDIATELY—do noot spin your wheels and hope that you’ll “pop out”.  You won’t…and you’ll only dig yourself in deeper.  The smart thing to do is get out, get out your planks (or go collect some driftwood planks along the beach) and dig out your back wheels and put the planks under them to give your tires some rampways to help get traction to roll you up out of your hole (and hopefully downhill a bit back onto hard-packed wetsand).  Carpet or floor mats from your car can help with this too.

Many cars and 4WD utes whiz along 90-Mile beach all the time (especially in that 6-hour low-tide window), so if you get really stuck, dig out your tires as best you can and just wait.  Every driver of 90-mile will be willing to help, especially if you have shown the proper efforts to help yourself before they arrive.   Go for it!

90-Mile Beach overview

90-Mile Beach overview

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Waipapakauri ramp area at 90-Mile beach.

Waipapakauri ramp area at 90-Mile beach.

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The paved ramp at Waipapakauri which descends onto the wet hard-packed sand

The paved ramp at Waipapakauri which descends onto the wet hard-packed sand

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Waipapakauri pavement ending onto the wetsands of 90-Mile Beach

Waipapakauri pavement ending onto the wetsands of 90-Mile Beach

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A 2WD sedan car on 90-Mile Beach

A 2WD sedan car on 90-Mile Beach

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Some folks exploring the beach immediately in front of the Hukatere Hill access point

Some folks exploring the beach immediately in front of the Hukatere Hill access point

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Wicked van accessing 90-Mile Beach at Hukatere Hill.

Wicked van accessing 90-Mile Beach at Hukatere Hill.

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Hukatere Hill area of 90-Mile Beach

Hukatere Hill area of 90-Mile Beach

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A view from 90-mile Beach over to the dunes of Ahipara

A view from 90-mile Beach over to the dunes of Ahipara

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My van in front of "The Bluff" on 90-Mile beach.  The Bluff is the only rocky feature the entire 66-mile length of the beach and it is the tidal "pinch point", meaning that as the tide rises this is the toughest place to get around whether you are headed north or south.  At mid-tide the waves begin a wash up to the rocks of the Bluff.

My van in front of “The Bluff” on 90-Mile beach. The Bluff is the only rocky feature the entire 66-mile length of the beach and it is the tidal “pinch point”, meaning that as the tide rises this is the toughest place to get around whether you are headed north or south. At mid-tide the waves begin a wash up to the rocks of the Bluff.

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Walk up onto the Bluff for a look-around up and down 90-Mike Beach

Walk up onto the Bluff for a look-around up and down 90-Mike Beach

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Waves bashing The Bluff on 90-Mile Beach

Waves bashing The Bluff on 90-Mile Beach

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The 4WD route around The Bluff

The 4WD route around The Bluff

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December 29, 1936 The Bluff inscription

December 29, 1936 The Bluff inscription

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Tour bus zooming along 90-Mile Beach.  There are about a dozen of these per day, all driving  the beach near low tide

Tour bus zooming along 90-Mile Beach. There are about a dozen of these per day, all driving the beach near low tide

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Cautionary tale on 90 Mile Beach

Cautionary tale on 90 Mile Beach

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Same car, one year later (2010)

Same car, one year later (2010)

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After your drive on 90-Mile Beach, it's smart to stop at The Kauri Kingdom in Awanui and use their $$ carwash to spray off the underside of your car from the salty sands

After your drive on 90-Mile Beach, it’s smart to stop at The Kauri Kingdom in Awanui and use their $$ carwash to spray off the underside of your car from the salty sands.

 

The pay carwash at Kauri Kingdom

The pay carwash at Kauri Kingdom

 

 

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