Ripiro Beach



NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group


Pop quiz: how long is 90 Mile Beach? Don't scoff — the answer isn't as evident as it seems. Although 90 Mile is often thought of as Aotearoa's great stretch of long white sand, at 66 miles (107km), Ripirō Beach is longer than its incorrectly named northern neighbour, which is only 55 miles, or 88km. Ripirō Beach is New Zealand's longest drivable beach, and off-roaders in the right 4WDs can cover all 107km from Poutō to Maunganui Bluff. Access is dotted along the shoreline, including at Glinks Gully, Baylys Beach and Ōmāmari. Avoid heading too far along to Maunganui Bluff unless the vehicle is suitable, as it gets increasingly rocky. It's also important to check the tides; access is best two hours either side of low tide. This stretch of sand is known as the Shipwreck Highway. On a blustery day, stand before the white-capped water, wind rearranging hair and sandblasting every inch of exposed skin. Imagine what it was like to face Mother Nature at her worst from the ship's deck. Depending to whom you chat, either 113 or more than 150 boats and many crew and passengers have found their end here. The wooden remains, scattered along the beach, are often mistaken for driftwood. Rumours of a Portuguese ship being discovered near Poutō suggests that navigators were in the area as early as the 14th century. Ripirō also holds many secrets regarding New Zealand's history. Scientists have spent years here uncovering glimpses of the past beneath the dunes. Layers of ash, lignite and kauri reveal a history that dates back potentially 60,000 years and shows evidence of what was once thick kauri forest. Look carefully when exploring this area, not everything may be as it seems.