Until yesterday, I thought that 90 mile beach was the longest beach in NZ. And apparently I’m not alone — if you Google the longest beaches in the world then 90 mile beach comes out in the top 10 just about every time. But not only is 90 mile beach not 90 miles long (it is 55 miles long), it isn’t even the longest beach we have. That prize goes to Ripiro Beach.
I have yet to make it as far North as 90 mile beach but I plan to in the next few weeks. Yesterday we went on a road trip and headed North. When looking for a nice place to stay the night, we accidentally stumbled upon Baylys Beach Holiday Park and Ripiro is just around the corner. The amazing thing about Ripiro is that it is 66 miles long and the entire length is drive-able! You drive to the end of the main road in the town of Baylys Beach and it pretty much ends at the ocean. From there, it’s either a left or a right and you can literally drive for 20+ miles each way.
I wouldn’t recommend driving the beach without a 4-wheel drive vehicle — it was very easy driving for us and you could probably make it but there were a few soft spots in the sand and the holiday park owner said there is nobody to pull you out if you get stuck. Also note that they recommend not driving on the beach more than 3 hours before or after high tide. We arrived to the beach a few hours before low tide which worked out great.
It is still winter here and the beach was pretty deserted. There were a few other drivers on the beach and several fishermen with their kontikis. I was so excited as we got to watch a couple of them launch their kontikis. At one point we saw a seal shuffling along the water’s edge and we witnessed a spectacular sunset.
Ripiro Beach is the site of 113 shipwrecks but we didn’t see them. I read that there aren’t that many distinguishing marks on the coastline which is part of the reason. The Dargaville museum has a lot of things that were found from the shipwrecks and also gives you a nice scenic view of the town as it is up on a hill.
We stopped for dinner in Dargaville after our beach drive. Dargaville is a small town and we were surprised to see that they have a theater — not an easy thing to do in a town with just 4,455 people! The citizens of Dargaville got tired of having to drive to other towns to see a movie so they built the cinema themselves in the war memorial hall. It has 62 very very comfortable seats and a small snack bar and is staffed by volunteers. How cool is that?