Ahipara is a beautiful little beach settlement anchoring the southern end of 90-Mile Beach. Gumdiggers had their boom years a century ago, but these days Ahipara’s glory stems from surfing and beauty. Surfing fame for Shipwreck Bay arrived in 1966 when “Shippies” was featured in the legendary Endless Summer surf movie (towards the end of the movie—minute 117—the boys road-trip through the North Island. See it!).
Little-known is the viewpoint perched on the 200m bluff that backs Ahipara. This undeveloped viewpoint doubles as a hang-glider launch, and as such you’re able to drive right up to the edge—if your car is rugged enough. The view is superb! It sweeps from Shipwreck’s golden dunes all the way up 90-Mile Beach. Watch surfers smack the endless lefts below, then watch the high tide completely cover 90-Mile. On a clear day Te Paki’s dunes shine while the hills of Houhora Heads, Puheke Hill, and Whatuwhiwhi dot the northern flatness. When in Ahipara, don’t miss this view!
Shipwreck Bay Dunes. From Shipwreck Bay an intriguing route leads around the western point and out to the faroff Reef Point baches. The route’s “intrigue” is that the locals have improved the rocky reef with cement in the low spots…making it drivable at low-tide. Amazingly, a 2WD car can manage 4km on the rocks and wetsand…but beware, the wetsand ends suddenly at the giant dunes and soft sand begins. Every day, once the tide begins to recede, this around-the-point route is super popular with surfers and fishermen.
Walking the route is easy enough, and if you round the point on a rising tide you’ll probably have the entire stretch to yourself for a few hours until the tide goes back down and the the parade begins anew. Why walk out here? The DUNES man, the dunes! Adventurers gotta climb the massive steep dune face. Atop is an otherworldly landscape of petrified sand, petrified Kauri gum, and petrified wonder! Find your own Kauri gum…make your own varnish! Rarely-seen jaw-drop beauty up here…nuff said.