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Ninety Mile Beach is a beach located on the western coast of the far north of the North Island of New Zealand. It stretches from just west of Kaitaia towards Cape Reinga along the Aupouri Peninsula. It begins close to the headland of Reef Point, to the west of Ahipara Bay, sweeping briefly northeast before turning northwest for the majority of its length. It ends at Scott Point, 5 km south of Cape Maria van Diemen.
The name Ninety Mile Beach is a misnomer because it is actually 55 miles (88 km) long. Several theories have been advanced for the name, the most common stemming from the days when missionaries travelled on horse back when on average a horse could travel 30 miles (50 km) in a day before needing to be rested. The beach took three days to travel therefore earning its name, but the missionaries did not take into account the slower pace of the horses walking in the sand, thus thinking they had travelled 90 miles (140 km) when in fact they had only travelled 55.
The beach, and specifically its northern dunes, is a famous tourist destination. The dunes, looking very much like a desert landscape, are an unexpected sight for travellers, especially if arriving from the landward side. They are often used for bodyboarding.
In 1932, Ninety Mile Beach was used as the runway for some of the earliest airmail services between Australia and New Zealand. It is still sometimes used as an alternative road to State Highway 1 north of Kaitaia, though mainly for tourist reasons, or when the main road is closed due to landslides or floods.
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June 18th, 2009
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