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.