Ninety Mile Beach Aerial

Ninety Mile Beach is one of New Zealand’s most iconic beaches and one of the most spectacular beaches in the world. We do, however, need to get this one out of the way straight away – 90 Mile Beach is not 90 miles! Shock horror. Ninety Mile Beach is in fact just 88 kilometres. That’s just a smidgen under 55 miles so it’s not even close! 54.7 Mile Beach doesn’t have the same ring to it though does it?!

Why is it called Ninety Mile Beach?

According to the Fullers Great Sights website, “The story goes that the early European settlers named it because they knew their horses could travel up to 30 miles in a day. So if the trip along the beach took them three days, it must be 90 miles long, right? Unfortunately, they didn’t account for the slower pace of travelling on sand.

So, there you have it. An early clerical error has left us with the name Ninety Mile Beach and it’s a place that is visited by thousands every year.

The Maori name for Ninety Mile Beach is Te Oneroa-a- Tōhe, meaning ‘The Long Beach of Tōhe’. Tōhe was a highly ranked chief in the Ngāti Kahu iwi, who lived in Spirits Bay (Kapowairua) to the east of Cape Reinga.

What’s so special about Ninety Mile Beach?

Ninety Mile Beach is a special place and it attracts people for a wide variety of activities. There are so many things to do at 90 Mile Beach and that’s one of the things that makes it so special. From the spectacular sunsets to the world-class surfing break, there is a bit of something for everyone at Ninety Mile Beach and it is an absolutely must-visit destination on any trip north.

Ninety Mile Beach Sunset

Many people tag a stop off at Ninety Mile Beach to their road trip to Cape Reinga and this is a good call, however, try and allow a few hours to truly explore some of the awesome things to do up at Ninety Mile Beach.

Ninety Mile Beach is officially a highway, however, we don’t recommend taking your private vehicle onto the beach and you are not allowed to take rental vehicles onto the beach. The majority of traffic on the beach is the tour buses that are well-equipped to deal with the sand and saltwater and if you did want to experience the pretty unique experience of driving on a highway beach, then there are some great tours that will include this option that depart from both Paihia and Kaitaia.

The beach has also served as a runway in the past for the first airmail planes to come over from Australia, however, it is no longer used for that purpose.

Things to do at Ninety Mile Beach

OK, on to the main business and some of the best things to do at Ninety Mile Beach. Here are some of our favourites.



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New Zealand is a country packed full of amazing surfing beaches and Ninety Mile Beach is right up there with the best of them. The beach enjoys some of the finest left-hand surf breaks in the country and some say the world and that makes it a paradise for surfers from around New Zealand as well as international visitors.

With 88 kilometres of beach to choose from, there is no shortage of space for surfers to enjoy their own little piece of paradise. As well as the world-renowned left-hand breakers, there are lots of other options that would suit surfers of all levels.



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With 88 kilometres of beach to work with, it is no surprise that surfcasting is one of the most popular activities on 90 Mile Beach. From the regulars that fish the beach every day to those that come once a year for the annual five-day fishing competition, Ninety Mile Beach is a great place to catch yourself some snapper.

The annual Ngāi Takoto Ninety Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza attracts fishermen from all over the country, however, it is the locals that tend to fare well thanks to their knowledge of the holes and hollows and the rips and tides. Last year, a local angler from Ahipara bagged the $2,000 prize for the heaviest fish on day one of the five-day competition with a snapper weighing in at 6.6kg.



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One of the most popular activities at Ninety Mile Beach is sandboarding. As well as being famous for being one of the longest stretches of beach in the country, Ninety Mile Beach is also home to some massive sand dunes which it turns out, are perfect for whizzing down on a bodyboard. Sandboarding is a very cool thing to try at Ninety Mile Beach if you have never done it before and another adventure activity to tick off your list in New Zealand.

If you are on a guided tour to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach, many of the coach tours bring bodyboards with them, however, there is a good spot to rent them at Ninety Mile Beach or you can bring your own. Then it’s a case of how many times you can drag yourself to the top of the massive dunes to enjoy the 10-second rush of whizzing back down! Not only is it a fun activity, but it’s also a total body workout. Winner.



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If surfing and fishing are not your thing, it’s definitely worth taking your togs and having a swim anyway. The beach has plenty of safe swimming areas and it’s the perfect way to cool down – especially if you have made the trip all the way from Paihia either in your car or on a bus – you will be glad to be able to cool down, especially during the summer months.

Take a stroll

If you fancy a stroll along the beach, the views are spectacular and you might also want to take a small spade and try digging for pipi – a small shellfish that can be added to fish stews. The beach is a great place to have a stroll and take some amazing photos. If you have spent the day up at Cape Reinga, Ninety Mile Beach also serves up some of the best sunsets in New Zealand. Grab a picnic and climb one of the dunes to watch the magnificent sunset over the Tasman – at least you will know a quick way to get back down the dune!


Ninety Mile Beach is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations and can be combined with a trip to Cape Reinga. Self-driving is a great way to explore the area at your own pace and enables you to stop off whenever you want. If you don’t fancy the additional drive from Paihia in the Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga, however, the daily bus trips are a good option and they allow plenty of time to explore Ninety Mile Beach in their itineraries.