Last Updated on February 18, 2024

New Zealand is an incredible country that has got just about anything an adventure seeker may wish for, including amazing sand dunes you can surf on.

There are plenty of great sandboarding destinations across NZ, especially in the North Island’s Northland region, where people enjoy sand sledding down the Giant Dunes of Te Paki, the Hokianga Sand Dunes and the sandhills of Ninenty Miles Beach.

Unfortunately, there have been two cases of fatal sandboarding-related accidents in New Zealand, on both Te Paki and Hokianga sand dunes. In both cases, the victim had ignored instructions and warnings to only sandboard down designated areas.

Sandboarding in New Zealand: Te Paki Sand Dunes
Sandboarding at Te Paki Sand Dunes. Photo courtesy of Bernard Spragg.

Te Paki Sand Dunes – Cape Reinga, Northland

The iconic Giant Sand Dunes of Te Paki (also known as Pukenui Sand Dunes) are enormous mountains of sand located about 15km southeast of Cape Reinga, in the northern extremity of Ninety Mile Beach.

The site, with over 10 square kilometers of golden sand, is the most popular spot for sandboarding enthusiasts in the country.

Sandboard rental

Sand boards and sand sleds (toboggans) can be rented directly on the spot, and there is no time restriction for the rental. Price is around $15 NZD, there is no entrance fee to the park.

The dunes can get quite steep, the staff at the sandboard rental point will also provide smaller sleds for kids and advice on which smaller hills the little ones can ride safely.

90 Mile Beach & Ahipara Sand Dunes – Kaitaia, Northland

The southern portion of the aformentioned Ninety Mile Beach is another popular sandboarding spot in Cape Reinga, in the western coast of North Island.

The coastal dunes are not quite as big as the Te Paki dunes up north, but they make for plenty of sand surfing fun.

Located at the southern end of Ninety Mile Beach, the Ahipara Sand Dunes offer a remarkable landscape where fine, white sand stretches as far as the eye can see.

As you traverse these undulating hills, the ever-changing patterns and textures of the dunes captivate your senses, offering a surreal and ethereal experience.

Hokianga Sand Dunes – Opononi, Northland

The Hokianga Sand Dunes are located in is a secluded area surrounding the Hokianga Harbour, also known as the Hokianga River, which is only accessible via boat ride with the Hokianga Express (where you can also get your “boogie board” i.e. a bodyboard for sand dunes).

The golden steeps are made of the most fine sand and fall directly on the water, so you can “surf” on both sand and sea at the same time!

You can reach Hokianga Harbour by car from Whangarei. The journey it’s approximately 2 hours long.

Bethells Beach Black Sand Dunes – Lake Wainamu, Auckland

Bethells beach in Lake Wainamu offers some unique sandboarding opportunities in Auckland, allowing you to surf on black sand dunes!

Lake Wainamu is located in the Waitakere Ranges, approximately a 1 hour drive from central Auckland.

You can swim in the lake itself which is surrounded by steep mountains of black sand. You may want to bring your own sandboard or rent a boogy board on the way.

Sandfly Bay – South Island, New Zealand

Sandfly Bay is one of the few sandboarding spots in South Island. Located in the Otago Peninsula, it’s a visually stunning place with steep dune crashing onto the sea.

Wildlife including yellow-eyed penguins and sea lions can be found there, while the coastal dunes offer some sliding fun if you bring your own boogie board or sand sled.

And where else can you sandboard that there are penguins around?

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