To Cape Reingato
You’ll be hard-pressed to find more dazzling seascapes than those on your way to Cape Reinga. The cape is situated at the top of Aupouri Peninsula, which features famous Ninety Mile Beach and three magnificent harbors: Parengarenga, with silica sand so white you need dark glasses; Houhora; and Pukenui. The Cape Reinga Lighthouse stands above the battling currents of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Private cars are not allowed on Ninety Mile Beach, known as Te Oneroa a Tohe to Maori, which can be hazardous because of tidal sweeps, quicksand, runoff channels, sand holes, and plankton buildup. Leave the driving to the experts: Take one of the numerous coach tours to the cape, and you’ll be able to make the return trip down the hard-packed sands, stopping first at the mountainous Te Paki sand dunes and quicksand stream.
Note: The round-trip from the Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga by private car takes about 7 hours—and that’s not allowing for decent stops en route. A day tour from Kaitaia is a more reasonable alternative. I’d strongly advise you to spend an extra night and stay at Doubtless Bay or Kaitaia so you can do the area justice without feeling rushed.
From Paihia -- You can take the family-oriented 11-hour Cape Reinga day tour with Fullers Great Sights Bay of Islands (tel. 0800/653-339; www.dolphincruises.co.nz) for NZ$121 adults and NZ$61 children ages 5 to 15. A barbecue lunch costs around NZ$25 per person. Awesome Adventures Maritime Building, Paihia (tel. 0800/653-339 in NZ, or 09/402-6985; www.awesomenz.com), is less formal, attracts a younger crowd, and stops to eat at a fish-and-chips shop. It costs NZ$118 for a full day and is less likely to have children on board.
From Kaitaia -- Go with a full-day excursion from Sand Safaris Cape Reinga Tours, 221 Commerce St., Kaitaia (tel. 0800/869-090 in NZ, or 09/408-1778; www.sandsafaris.co.nz), or Harrisons Cape Runner Tours, 123 North Rd., Kaitaia (tel. 0800/227-373 in NZ, or 09/408-1033; www.harrisonscapereingatours.co.nz). The cost is NZ$55 to NZ$60 for adults, NZ$25 to NZ$35 for children 14 and under.
From Mangonui -- You can do a 4 day tour with Paradise Connexion Tours (tel. 0800/494-392 in NZ, or 09/406-0460; www.paradisenz.co.nz). They offer a range of activities within their tailor-made tours, including winery visits.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.