Imagine the heart-pounding thrill of sandboarding. With the wind in your hair as you tear down the giant sand dunes, you have only your toes to slow you down.
Sandboarding is sand surfing on your belly, head-first while you fly to the bottom of the dunes, laughing and smiling all the way.
The giant Te Puki Sand Dunes reach up 100 metres, with the longest run nicknamed “Devil’s Hook” offering a 350m long metre “surf” down. And it’s fast, as some of the slopes exceed 45° (estimated).
It certainly was faster than the sand skiing we did in Morocco.
A destination on its own, Te Paki is also a frequent stop of travellers heading to Cape Reinga at the northern tip of the island. Sandboarding is one of many popular adrenaline-pumping adventures on New Zealand’s North Island.
Sandboarding in New Zealand
What can I say about sandboarding? I would have said I am too old (like I implied about my surfing in Raglan), but then I learned about the 89-year-old who gave sandboarding a try. It turns out he loved it.
Safety is the responsibility of the rider. The basic guidelines are to find a smooth slope with a gentle curve at the base and a good run off with no rocks, plants, or people in the way.
Our girls and their friend had a blast riding down. Our daughter sandboarding New Zealand style, full speed ahead. Her friend used her feet to slow her down a bit. To our surprise, both girls ended up with little sand in their clothing and NO sand burns.
Jeff and I took the conservative approach. Enjoying an interesting mix of the sand and the vegetation as we walked up to the best spot for photos.
Where are the Giant Sand Dunes?
Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes is on the Aupouri Peninsula, near the top of the island. It’s only about 17 km from Cape Reinga. Off of the main road, they are well signposted and easy to find.
- Follow the road to the dunes, and you can hire a sandboard right there.
- Many people visit as part of an all-day bus tour that also drives on the 90-mile beach to Cape Reinga.
- We drove to the giant sand dunes as part of a loop around the top of the North Island.
90-Mile Beach, sand dunes, Cape Reinga tour from the Bay of Islands
The most popular way to explore the top of the island is an all-day tour from the Bay of Islands. Our favourite tour drives along 90-mile beach, visits Cape Reinga and its lighthouse, talks about local Maori legends, wanders among 2,000-year-old Kauri trees, and of course, includes a sandboarding adventure.
While we could do it all on our own, it feels safer, smarter, and more fun to be on the bus for the beach drive. Reserve your all-day tour from the Bay of Islands here.
Rent a sandboard when you arrive
You can hire (rent) a board from Ahikaa Adventures, which has a small trailer overflowing with boards right at the parking area for the dunes. I don’t think they ever run out.
They even have toboggans for little ones. (Minimum age is up to the parents). Board hire is available in the summer from 9.30 am until at least 6 pm and in winter from 10.30 am until at least 4 pm. The owner stays later if people keep showing up.
Sandboarding needs smooth, sleek boards, and the average beach boogie board just won’t get the speed you want, nor will it hold up to the coarse sand.
Practical information about the Te Paki dunes:
- Entering these New Zealand sand dunes is free.
- The general advice is to be sure to lock your car here, as you would in all tourist destinations.
- There is no time limit for the board rental, but most people only last about an hour as the walk up is quite tiring.
- Sandboarding is generally done barefoot, which works out well, as you need to cross an ankle-deep stream to get to the dunes.
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- Campervans or Motorhomes: we use Campstar where Albom Adventures readers get a 3% discount
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Are you ready for some sandboarding?
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We loved sand boarding at Te Paki Dunes! We brought our 5 young children and this was the highlight of their trip! I loved that there are so many levels of hills, so even our 4 year old could slide down. Remember to bring lots of water when you visit. We also found that some cheap protective goggles made the trip down much more enjoyable!
Hi. We are planning on renting a camper van and go to cape Reinga. Is it ok to drive there in a CV? Then we were thinking of going to Te Paki for sand boarding. Same question there, is it ok to drive there in a CV? How far is it to walk from parking to sand dunes?
The roads are paved all the way up the North Island (to Cape Reinga). And, there is parking on the road at Te Paki. You can get quite close depending on how busy it is.
Oh no! We totally missed this corner of the North Island when we visited! This looks soooo fun though. How fast did you manage to get zooming down the dune? Was it a little scary, or just really funny!?
This looks like SO much fun! I have never heard of sandboarding. We have plenty of surfboarding here in San Diego, but this looks similar and exciting!
Esha M Dutta
I had no idea about sandboarding but seeing your lovely pictures I can see it must have been great fun! Seems like everyone had a blast.
I’d love to do that someday!
Have a lovely week!
Looks like fun… except climbing to the top to go down again!!
Lydia C. Lee
I love sandboarding – we do it up near Newcastle (Australia). So much fun and suits all ages. A little scary the first time…
Looks like great fun!
omg THIS IS A MUST. IT’S GOING ON MY BUCKET LIST RIGHT NOW! Oh wow, thank you so much for sharing your fun pictures and they are totally GREAT! WOW! This thing to do is definitely going on my bucket list things to do before I die! HAVE A ROCKIN’ WEEK!
This looks so cool! I had no idea that NZ had such high sand dunes. I guess I’m just used to associating it with being wet and green, but wow! I can’t wait to take my own kid to do this when she’s old enough. Thank you for sharing, Rhonda.
Claudia Willison| ImagesByCW
Sandboarding looks pretty darn’ exciting – I’d definitely be game to try it.
Oh my, this is looks like too much fun! Adding to my ever growing list of things to do in New Zealand!
You have to go all the way to the top of the North Island for this one.
indah nuria Savitri
I would definitely like to try as well. It looks super fuuun 🙂
This looks amazing! The second photo is fantastic! x
I had never heard of sand boarding but wow! What an idea. Would love to try it out someday…we do have a few sand dunes here in Dubai 🙂 Have a great day!
It might be a New Zealand thing, until you grab a board and get it going in Dubai.
Great action shots! This place reminds me of White Sands, New Mexico, USA. I’ve gotta ask, do you get sand burns? Thanks for visiting my blog. I really appreciated the comment you left.
I haven’t been to White Sands, although we did spend about a month touring New Mexico. There were no sand burns, as the girls ride on a board and keep their legs up.
This looks awesome! We are heading to the S. Island this weekend for 6 days. Hopefully, we’ll be able to return and focus on the North side another time. 🙂
There are loads of adventurous activities to do on the South Island.
I had no idea people went sandboarding and skiing! What fun.
I don’t think they sand ski in New Zealand, but I am pretty sure there is somewhere in Australia you can do it. We did it in Morocco.
This looks AMAZING! As a Canadian, we take sliding very seriously. …but on sand…without toques, mitts, snow pants, 3 sweaters, heavy boots and someone needing to pee??? Love it!
LOL – I am not sure the sand would solve the pee problem.
I have never tried sandboarding and it looks so much fun!! 😀
The pictures are amazing!
You, I know, would love it. Although not a good activity in one of your adorable sun dresses.
what a hoot! we only have snow to board on here! Cheers!
We don’t get snow this far north, but we do if we head south – but not now, it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
It looks fun, but the idea of sand either getting in my mouth or eyes would be something I would be worried about!
Oddly, all the sand seem to blow behind them, so they didn’t get any in their eyes or mouth. However, all three of the girls wear glasses.
Amazing images, that looks like a lot of fun
New Jersey Memories
That looks really cool, but I must admit that I’m not brave enough to try it. I’d be the photographer on the side, too. Good thing that the girls had fun!
There was plenty of room for both of us on the rock I stood on.
That sounds like a really exciting activity. I think my kids too would love it if they were given the chance to try 🙂
I hope they get a chance. Our teens loved it!
This looks amazing, I visited 90mile beach and Cape Reinga on a day trip, but we never did sandboarding… I hope I have time to get there and do it before leaving NZ, it looks so exhilarating! 🙂
We did it all in a day trip also, but we ended it by watching the sunset over 90 mile beach, so it was a long day.
I’m so jelly!!!! That looks like ridiculous fun!
It looks like fun. I’d be willing to give it a try, but someone would have to push me (as in talk me into it). We have sand dunes in Colorado, further out west in Nebraska, and in South Dakota. They are fun!
The girls big smiles agree with you.
Great action shots – the activity looks like a lot of fun!
Have a Beautiful Day!!
I must be really out of the loop because I never heard of sand-boarding before – and it looks so cool! Great pics, as always. Have a lovely week! 🙂
It might be purely a New Zealand thing. We are the adventure capital of the world.
I’d try it. I was thinking the sand would get kicked up, but it doesn’t look like it happens from the front end.
The sand really only got kicked up when their feet touched. Most of my photos looked a lot less “cloudy”, but I think these look more interesting.
Looks amazing and fun! Would love to try out that sometime! We’ve been in Nicaragua and did the volcano boarding and that was such fun, too!
I never heard of volcano boarding. What are you sliding on, and what is the terrain like. I imagine so many rocks, that it seems really dangerous.
Hi Rhonda – what an amazing experience for the kids – they look like they were having so much fun! My mother and I went in Namibia on the singing dunes … but we didn’t have boards … just our bottoms! But it was fun – I rolled down in the end – but was full, full of sand! We were driven up though … but it’s hard work walking on the sand and on the dune …
Great fun – cheers Hilary
Didn’t it hurt sliding on your bottoms as the sand rubbed agains your legs an arms. I am sure you were more full of sand than we were, although we all had a mist covering us.
That looks like so much fun!
Paul F. Pietrangelo
It sure looks like a lot of fun but wouldn’t your underwear be full of sand after your finished? Ha,ha,ha.I love the smile your daughter has as she went down the hill.
Have an enjoyable Tuesday Rhonda. See ya.
The girls say that their underwear was not a problem 🙂
Awesome photos! I’ve been to to this part of the world and sadly didn’t slide down the sand dunes!
No matter what you did up on this peninsula, I am sure it was interesting and fun. I love the cape and probably will never slide down the dunes.
Oh! how exciting love these photos I wished I could do that haha!
Have a dunetastic week Rhonda 🙂
I wish I could do it too, but I am a wimp when it comes do going downhill quickly.
Wouaff WONDERFULL shot, greetings from Belgium
ye-heyyy, this seems like such a fun! great shots!
Well something must be sandblasted here. Nice pics. I like them
LOL – when the wind blew we all felt a bit sandblasted 🙂
Hi Rhonda! Wow, that looks like so much fun! And fantastic pictures!
Serenia from Squidoo
Is this beach connected to or have anything to do with Ninety Mile Beach? Because that is supposed to have some wonderful sand dunes as well.
I cannot believe that I never ever got to Cape Reinga, or Ninety Mile beach despite my living in NZ for some 33 years!!!! I now in my 50’s.
The farthest north I ever got to, as far as I can remember, was BOI and Waitangi.
Yes, you are correct, this is up near Cape Reinga, and from the top you can see 90 mile beach. This was my third trip up north and the first time I made it too 90 mile beach (photos and story coming soon)>
Looks like something for the young to do indeed. I’m pretty sure I’d hurt myself at my age. Back in the day I would have given this a go though.
Have a fabulous day. 🙂
Apparently it’s for everyone, but like I you I am happy on the sidelines.
Alex J. Cavanaugh
That looks like so much fun. I would do that!
I am sure you would, even mini Alex could enjoy this one 🙂
The girls had a blast.