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Tapotupotu Bay to Cape Reinga, Northland

The walk to Tapotupotu Bay passes the spectacular Sandy Bay. Photo: Matthew Cattin
5km return
Cape Reinga
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Too few tourists venture past the Cape Reinga lighthouse which is a pity; the track leading to Tapotupotu Bay is one of the finest coastal walks in the country. 

From the car park, a steady downhill ridge leads to the deeply set Sandy Bay, known for passing whales that scratch themselves on a rock protruding from the bay. Swimming here is a must – the water is turquoise and the sand a blinding white – but beware the currents which drag out to sea. 

From the beach, it’s a steady and exposed climb, with over-the-shoulder views of a unique angle of Cape Reinga. The track continues east through windswept mānuka bush offering dizzying views down steep clifftops, before descending to Tapotupotu. This north-facing gem offers safer swimming and a DOC campground, though mosquitoes seem compelled to keep this paradise pristine.