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Monday, May 16, 2016

NZ’s Lesser-Known (Other) “90 Mile” Drivable Beach

Colorful, sandstone unes seen driving on Baylys Beach,
near Dargaville, West Coast, North Island, New Zealand.
While tour busses collect passengers for $50/pop from Kaitaia for the “Ninety Mile Beach” (really, 55 mile) drive from Waipapakauri to Te Paki (or crazies like us who drive it with our own 2-wheel drive vehicle), they’re missing a longer, prettier shoreline a bit further South, also on New Zealand’s North Island’s West Coast.

Hop and a skip from Dargaville (~13km), Baylys Beach is a local Kiwi (or readers of Scott Cook’s excellent “New Zealand Frenzy” North Island guidebook) “secret.” 


Near Baylys Beach, Dargaville, its fame due to the kauri
tree, first for felling it, then as a curator.

It’s an easy-to-drive stretch fringed by brilliantly hued sandstone cliffs, far more dramatic than Ninety Mile Beach’s plain sand dunes.  Ok, unlike the crashing surf we saw the day Wayne drove Ninety Mile Beach, Baylys is a bit tame.   Nor did we get the adrenaline rush of a stream splashing about our car, despite a carefully timed drive on Ninety Mile Beach.  Naw, Baylys was just easy. A ramp from the road down to a nice hard-packed sand beach. Just enough cars about to follow back up to another ramp back to the road at the end.  We did still try to plan our drive closer to low tide.

Lump of kauri gum (sap) "gold of the North" at
a museum adjacent Kiwi House, Whangarei.

We didn’t spend the extra time to enjoy the area more, to explore the nearby kauri* museum, an ode to Dargaville’s historic timber harvesting and gum-digging (kauri sap) lore.  Now Dargaville’s better known as the gateway to those few bigger kauris that managed to not get cut.  (More on our kauri walks in a future post).  We didn’t even do anything foodie-wise to exploit the area’s kumera (sweet potato) capital of New Zealand cachet.  Add those to my lengthening “If I come back to New Zealand, I will…” list of to-dos.



Baylys Beach sandstone blushing as sunset approaches.
*Kauris are a now scarce New Zealand treasure – a gargantuan, redwood-sized tree whose wood’s prized for building, its sap or “gum” a key ingredient for all of stuff.

Baylys Beach was the last stop on our kauri tree exploration day trip.  The sun was setting just as we were leaving Baylys beach behind along with the last of the sand, dirt and gravel roads to head back to Whanagarei.

“So what’s next, then, driving through fire?” Wayne only half joked.

If you plan to visit New Zealand’s most impressive kauri trees, and the idea of an easy literal beach drive with out the mass tourist busses appeals, be sure to plan in an extra hour or two for Baylys Beach, preferably around low tide.   Who knows?  You might like it so much you’ll camp there.

Just don’t tell too many people.  Baylys is pretty sweet just the way it is.

Double pole surf fisher in an ATV on Baylys Beach,
North Island New Zealand.
Location Location
This is a recent retrospective of our April trip to Baylys Beach (S35.950150 E 173 , By the time this posts, we'll be on our way from Opua, New Zealand (S35.18.772 E174.07.485, where this was written and preset to post) to our first major cruising stop this year, to Savusavu, Fiji (S16 46.48  E179 20.17.  Our 2nd longest ever passage, once we clear New Zealand customs (probably May 13th, from Opua), we expect it will take us nearly two weeks to get to Fiji,  at ~1170 nautical miles (nm).

Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles.  This year, from Fiji, we’ll go to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia.  After we arrive in Australia in around November, completing another 4,500 or so miles this cruising season, we plan to sell our boat.  Then, it's back to work, somewhere.