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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


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Ninety Mile Beach is on the western coast of the North Auckland Peninsula. It is terminated by rocky volcanic headlands, Scott Point to the north and Reef Point to the south. Between the two points is a beautiful arching beach of white sand facing the Tasman Sea. The origin of the name is uncertain, for the beach measures only 55 miles. It can be used as a motorway at low tide and, provided the sudden watercourses which seam the sand are crossed slowly and proximity to the waves avoided, the surface can be used with confidence. The beach is backed throughout its length by a belt of sand dunes up to 4 miles in width and up to 469 ft in height above sea level. The sandhills are highest in the north and gradually decrease in height to the south, where they are about 200 ft. In the far south they are fixed by lupins and marram grass, but for the rest they are moving and bare, except for a few isolated patches of scrub. On the eastern fringing of the dunes there is a series of lakes of which Rotokawau, the most elevated, is 130 ft above sea level. The most important of these lakes are Waiparera (115 ft), near Waiharara; Wahakari, near Te Kao, and Ngahu (118 ft), near Waipapakauri, where speedboat regattas are held. From the south the beach is approached by wooden ramp near Ahipara, and at a distance of about 11 miles a ramp provides access from the beach to the inland village of Waipapakauri. At a distance of 18 miles, near the mouth of the Waihi Stream, is an outcrop of lignite interbedded in the consolidated sand. At a distance of 22 miles is Hukatere, where a pack track across the sand dunes leads to Houhora, about 10 miles away. About 40 miles from the southern end is the Bluff, a patch of ellipsoidal-shaped submarine lava flows with bands of quartz, and connected to the mainland at low tide by a sand platform. Mauve-flowered ice plants are abundant here.

At a point 12 miles further up the beach the mouth of Te Paki Stream is reached. Its stream bed provides access to the hinterland, north to Cape Reinga, and south to Kaitaia.

The beach is well known for its snapper fishing and its shellfish, especially toheroas, which have now returned after an absence of several years. But the 100 sq. miles of sandhills that back the beach offer by far its greatest economic potential. Pine forests have already been established at Ngataki and it is proposed to develop progressively the whole area.

by Robert Findlay Hay, M.A., B.E.(MINING), Scientific Officer, New Zealand Geological Survey, Otahuhu.


Robert Findlay Hay, M.A., B.E.(MINING), Scientific Officer, New Zealand Geological Survey, Otahuhu.