Rarawa Beach is pure white silica sand, crystal clear turquoise water, and a quiet that seems out of place. While gentle waves and the occasional squawk of a nesting bird disrupt the silence, there is an innate peacefulness about this stunning beach that enhances its tranquillity.
Somewhat isolated and well off of the main road, we think of it as a place for relaxation and reflection. We know it, and so do the dolphins frequently seen frolicking in the waves.
While Rarawa Beach claims to have a busy season, we last arrived in December, at the height of the season, and were alone on the beach, as we have been on past visits.
We have been told it’s a popular place for swimming, surfing, and fishing, but we have never seen it.
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What is white silica sand?
White silica sand consists of well-rounded sand composed of almost pure quartz grains. It’s not common on New Zealand beaches. In fact, the sand from this region is used for glass-making in Whangarei and Auckland.
The stark white of the silica sand dunes was impressive, and on a blue sky day, sunglasses cut the glare Personally, I loved to walk along the beach as the white silica sand beneath my feet makes the oddest squeaking noise.
But even more unusual, and never quite explained to us, we didn’t leave footprints on much of the beach. Take a look around Jeff’s feet. This is the number one reason we added it to our list of unique things to do in the country.
What to do on Rarawa Beach
Like many New Zealand beaches, swimming, surfing, fishing, kayaking, and bird watching top the list of the things to do.
While we have only seen gentle waves on the days we have visited, we know they must get much larger as the beach was a host to the National Scholastic Surfing Championships in 2011.
The white sand against the blue sky also makes it a photographer’s paradise.
Birdlife on Rarawa Beach
The beach is home to many native bird species.
Importantly, Rarawa Beach is a nesting ground for the endangered Northern New Zealand dotterel and several species of oystercatchers. The nesting season runs from August to March, through the more busy summer season. Although, the photos on this page were taken during December, and as you can see, we were alone on the beach.
It is important not to disturb nesting shorebirds, and give them a wide berth should you come across them. If you hear them squawking, you know you have come too close.
Where is Rarawa Beach?
Located on the eastern shore of the Aupouri Peninsula, it is often overlooked for the more iconic ninety-mile beach or for sandboarding on the giant dunes along the western shores on the way to Cape Reinga.
Rarawa Beach is in the Paxton Point Conservation Area at Te Paki, although on the opposite side of the peninsula from the well-known Te Paki Sand dunes. (Despite their name, the sand dunes are actually located in Cape Reinga.)
Getting to Rarawa Beach
Getting to Rarawa Beach is easy with your own vehicle. Although, be aware that the final four kilometres of your drive will be on a gravel road.
The drive from Kaitaia will take approximately 45 minutes.
- Follow SH1 north through the Aupouri Peninsula until you pass the town of Ngataki.
- About 3 km after entering the town, pass Ngataki School, then turn right (signposted) onto the Rarawa Beach Road. This is a 4 km gravel road that will bring you to the beach.
Final thoughts on Rarawa Beach
- Bring insect repellent. Rarawa Beach attracts many mosquitoes.
- Even though it is white, the sand can get very hot in the summertime. Bring sandals just in case it is too hot for you.
- If you like tent camping, there is a Department of Conservation Rarawa Beach campsite.
- The stark white hills seen in the distance while driving up north are actually the dunes of this beach.
- Rarawa Beach is one of the recommended stops on our favourite North Island itinerary around the top of the Island. Even if you just stop by for a look, it’s worth the effort.
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- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
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Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
*World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
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Have you walked on white silica sand?
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I wonder why footprints don’t show when you walk along the beach? Very interesting. Have a wonderful day Rhonda and stay safe my friend.
A lovely beach – the white sand looks like snow!
I’ve never seen sand that white before. I initially thought it was snow!
White beaches look beautiful
Wow, this place looks beautiful! I really cant wiat to visit NZ after all this madness is gone!
Whoa, this place is awesome! What I wouldn’t give to see that up & close & for real! Great photos & thanks so much for sharing.
I didn’t know it existed, I’ll have to put it on my bucket list.
This looks like the perfect place to spend a quiet day. I enjoyed our artful photos.
Typo: I obviously meant I enjoyed YOUR artful photos!
What a beautiful beach. – Margy
Lydia C. Lee
I think I’ve already said this to you after the Orcas, but we are now hatching plans to go to NZ (in our Tasman bubble!). So these posts are GREAT!!
Picture perfect!! I love any and all beaches but this one is beautiful!! Good to know about the mosquitoes!!
Ryan K Biddulph
Looks gorgeous to me. Definitely a different kind of beach in New Zealand.
I absolutely love NZ!! Have been there twice now in the last two years and am already planning my third trip (well, not yet of course…). Never made it further north than Paihia though so this is a new place to explore 🙂
What stunning beaches! I can’t resist white sands! Thanks for the great guide!
I’d so love to explore New Zealand someday! Your photos are so pretty!
Amila @ Leisure and Me
Beautiful beach with white sand.Its interesting to know that there are no footprints on silica sandy beach…
I love visiting New Zealand but unfortunately I wasn’t on the trip when my husband visited those beaches (I opted out as he was planning to spend endless hours talking to long lost cousins *yawn*) Not sure if he made it to that particular beach but I hope we can go together next time. The sand looks like snow!
Beautiful pictures, so peaceful!
JM Illinois U.S.A.
I’ve couldn’t believe that footprints aren’t left in this sand at this beach. Interesting?
JM, Illinois U.S.A.
I first thought this was snow…….well not. I love that you have a zoom camera to take such great photos, love the nesting bird!!
Have a great Year!
Very nice, seems like a wonderful place. Would be great to spend a week there just relaxing.
Happy New Year!
L. Diane Wolfe
How gorgeous. I bet the light really glints off the sand.
If I didn’t know it is summer in NZ that sand dune could be mistaken for snow on a mountain. What a lovely looking beach.
We’ll be up that way again in a few weeks–it is quite amazing to see.
It’s beautiful! I love the pic of the dune with grasses because it reminds me of summers on Long Island beaches. Thanks for all the great pics! (How come you don’t make footprints when you walk?)
PippaD @ A Mother's Ramblings
Wow! What a beautiful beach and photos. I’ve never been, but I’m putting it on my bucket list!
Julie Kemp Pick
What gorgeous photos and it’s incredible that you didn’t make footprints in the sand! Years ago my mom
had shag carpeting, and I had to rake the carpeting to cover up all the footprints. Fantastic shot of the oyster
catcher too. Happy New Year to you and your family, Rhonda!
Incredible photography!!! I thoroughly enjoyed looking at them. Thank you so much for visiting my blog when I was on holiday. Happy New Year 🙂
Gorgeous scenery. I love the white sands.
Ruth - Tanama Tales
Didn’t know about this beach. New Zealand is full of surprises.
I’d rather be looking at white sand than white snow… lol
I just finished reading a a science fiction book called “Aurora.” At the end, returning starfarers had a hard time adjusting to earth and visa versa. The last part is about the survivors from space joining a group that was restoring beaches after their catastrophic loss following massive future global warming. The restored beach they visited at the end looked just like this in my mind’s eye. – Margy
I have never seen such beautiful white sand before! The last photo really captures the tranquility and beauty of this beach.
I would love to be there, how beautiful and breath taking it is.
Hi Rhonda – what gorgeous sand and amazing photos – fantastic you don’t leave footprints … and the red bill of the oyster catcher – lovely … while the first shot totally appeals. Wonderful bird watching and chilling out paradise … I had to check out that silica sand is the sand for glass … cheers Hilary
How lovely and I’ll bet it’s warm too. Great shots as always.
Have a fabulous day Rhonda. ☺
Teresa from NanaHood
Love all beaches! That is beautiful!
Gorgeous! I wish I lived closer to the ocean. 6 hours is to far away!
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Didn’t leave footprints? Now that’s wild.
Lovely to be reminded of the beauty of this spot. Heading that way in March net year.
Beautiful beach, I love the Oystercatcher too. Beautiful series of photos. Have a happy week!
Tanja (the Red phone box travels)
It looks almost like snow!:)
What a beautiful place love the white sand it looks like snow heheh!
Have a sandytastic day Rhonda 🙂
It’s a gorgeous spot. Guess you have the perfect spot next time you go camping.
I went to this beach and camped over night with my partner.We also camped at spirits bay further north .
spirits bay I felt was even more. Beautiful
oh i miss northland, loving your photos…