Ninety Mile Beach
Ninety Mile Beach was once the stamping ground of a legendary athlete called Te Houtaewa. The tale relates how he ran all the way from Ahipara to the end of the beach in search of his prize, the kumara (sweet potato). He then ran back with the Te Rarawa tribe hot on his heels only this time he was carrying a couple of baskets of kumara. Each year the legend is reenacted in the form of a marathon along the beach.
If accuracy were the goal, ninety mile Beach would be really be called ninety kilometre beach. However when faced with the vista itself the name becomes irrelevant. The scene is idyllic; black-backed gulls, godwits, terns and other birds hunt and squawk to the sound of surf and an otherwise great expanse of silence.
By all claims, the best way to experience the beach is to drive along it and watch the yellow sand dunes stretch into the distance. If you're planning to attempt this in your car, a few safety precautions are necessary. First off, be sure to check that the tide is right, on its way out, if you want to avoid a watery end. Be sure to drive near the water's edge as this is where the sand is hardest. Needless to say you also need to know your car as most vehicles are simply not designed to withstand this sort of treatment. Worst of all, insurance generally will not cover your damages and most definitely not if it's a rented car. If all else fails you can always take one of the many bus excursions available.
There are two entry points to the beach. The one to the south is just 6km north of Awanui, the Waipapakauri Ramp is probably your best option, the northern ramp along the Te Paki is bordered by quicksand so its kinda dodgy territory.