Northland's Kauri Coast Take a back road.....see where it leads

Turn left at Brynderwyn for the Kauri Coast & Hokianga and wind your way around the shores of the mighty Kaipara Harbour to the famous The Kauri Museum at Matakohe. Just after the riverside town of Dargaville, take a left turn to Baylys Beach for your first encounter with the wild Tasman Sea.

Twin Coast Discovery Highway
Lots to see and do on the Kauri Coast
Kai Iwi Lakes

Enjoy a freshwater dip in the nearby Kai Iwi Lakes, and then disappear into the deep green of the Waipoua Forest – home to Tane Mahuta, the largest Kauri tree in the world (over 2000 year's old!). As you exit the forest, the touring route climbs steeply to suddenly reveal the majestic beauty of the historic Hokianga Harbour.

Ripiro Beach

Ripiro beach is a gazetted highway and the standard rules of the road apply. It is possible to drive along its hard sands two hours either side of low tide, 4WD vehicles are recommended. It is suggested that you ask locals about the conditions before venturing on to the sands.

Magical Sunset Ripiro beach

According to local Iwi, the full name of the beach is Ripiro Waka te Haua, in reference to an unfinished canoe (waka). This waka travelled the length of the beach in it's unfinished state.

This 107Km long beach is backed by high, golden sand dunes and is the site of many shipwrecks, including a French man of war. Ripiro Beach is New Zealands longest driveable beach and is longer than the more famous 90 Mile Beach at North Cape. It is just as spectacular with many great activities on offer.

Best fishing in New Zealand

You can drive all the way from Pouto in the South to the Maunganui Bluff in the North, however before you head out please check the tides. This is an awesome scenic trip during which you will see many varieties of sea birds and feeding holes of the endangered Toheroa shellfish. You can actually pick bi-valve Tuatua all year round if you are lucky and provided you stay within the quota. You may see sand yachts, trail bikes, hang gliders, dune buggies, 4-Wheel Drives, jet skiiers, surfers, kite fishermen and long liners, hoping to catch kingfish, kahawai or snapper. There are likely to be fishermen netting for mullet or flounder, and some fortunate people have seen seals or sea lions.

Lot's to do 

You can drive off the beach at any of the small coastal settlements - Glinks Gully, Chadwicks, Mahuta Gap, Chases Gorge or Omamari, and drive along the coastal roads bounded with purple heather bushes for miles

Ripiro Beach


Ripiro Beach

There are 113 shipwrecks recorded on the Kaipara Coast and local residents know of 153 wreck sites. The first in 1839 was the Aurora, a full-rigged ship of 550 tons, and the last recorded was the yacht ASKOY II in June 1994.


A factor confusing Captains of ships approaching the Kaipara was that there are very few distinguishing landmarks on the North Head from which to take a bearing and many ships were wrecked coming over the Graveyard. L Alcmene a three-masted, 36 gun, French Man Of War, was wrecked at Baylys (main entrance from Dargaville onto Ripiro Beach) in 1851.

Painting of the wreck of L'Alcmene in the Dargaville Musium Artist unknown

The L'Alcemene perhaps is one of the best known of the ships to have wrecked on the Northland west coast. Built in 1834 L'Alcmene was a French Corvette. She was a three-masted vessel carrying 36 guns on board. Her Commander was Captain le Compte d'Harcourt. According to a report in the Southern Cross dated 17th June 1851 L'Alcmene was on her passage from Hobart to Hokianga. On June 3rd 1851 the L'Alcmene became becalmed thirty miles from shore. For four days she had drifted nearer and nearer to land. On the fourth day a westerly blew up and despite all efforts, she ended up entangled in the breakers, just off Bayly's Beach south of the notorious Monganui Bluff( itself a noted graveyard for many an unfortunate ship) and north of the equally dangerous Kaipara Harbour entrance.

Canon from the wreck of L'Alcmene in the Dargaville Musium

Local amateur historian and former Curator of the Dargaville Museum, Noel Hilliam, located the wreck in January 1977 after many years of searching and a number of the salvaged relics are now on display in the Dargaville Museum and a comemoration plaque has been errected as a lookout on the road to Baylys

Dargaville Museum

Harding Park (PO Box 166)

Dargaville, New Zealand

Phone: +64 9 439 7555

Fax: +64 9 439 7133

Free Phone 0800 23 46 36
Created By
Kauri Coast Visitor Information Pod
Ken Cashin, Liz Clark, Jim Brack Ken Cashin, Liz Clark, Jim Brack

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