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Friday, March 23, 2007

Te Paki Quicksand at Ninety Mile Beach, New Zealand

Ninety Mile Beach (the New Zealand one) is located on the western coast of Aupouri Peninsula. It is just a short drive away from Cape Reinga. Ninety Mile Beach is not really ninety miles long. It is actually only 55 miles (88 km). How did this “error” come about? My guide explained that in the past, cattle were herded along the beach. As cattle would travel about so many miles a day (sorry, I forgot how many) and it took several days/weeks to move the cattle from one end to the other end of the beach, it was deduced that the beach was 90 miles long! Haha……

The beach is quite flat and the sand compact and firm for most parts of it, so even large vehicles like coaches could travel on it at speeds of 100km/hr. However, if you plan to self-drive on Ninety Mile Beach, you will need to be aware that rental vehicles are prohibited from being driven on the beach. Rental car companies will bring to your attention that vehicle insurance cover excludes any loss from driving on this beach. It is because there have been enough instances of visitors driving on to the Te Paki Quicksand streams and having to abandon their cars!

My New Zealand Vacation, Ninety Mile Beach, Photo10420
(click for larger photo)
Car caught on the Te Paki Quicksand streams
Ninety Mile Beach, May 2006

On my vacation in May 2006, my guide pointed out that above car got stuck in the sand just 3 weeks earlier. Any car caught on the quicksand would be completely submerged in just 2 months. Whether it was a rental car or owned, this trip would have cost that driver a hefty bit ! In the photo, you can see the sand dunes which comes right up to the beach.

Instead of self-drive, you could book one of many coach tours which include Cape Reinga, Ninety Mile Beach, boardsurfing on the giant sand dunes and a trip into the Kauri forest to meet the giants! If you book the 4x4 Dune Rider, you may wish to get into the front seat and have someone snap a photo of you in the “bikini”. ;-)

My New Zealand Vacation, Ninety Mile Beach, Photo10482
(click for larger photo)
4x4 Dune Rider, May 2006

On that day, we had the opportunity to walk on the beach, right up to the edge of the waves, to dig for Tuatuas (shellfish).

My New Zealand Vacation, Ninety Mile Beach, Photo10423
(click for larger photo)
Digging for Tuatuas
Ninety Mile Beach, May 2006
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