We were looking to get some “time in the boots” before taking on the Queen Charlotte track in early spring and decided to complete a winter walk along Spirits Bay in Northland, New Zealand.
We decided that the round trip was probably about 16km and of course we had to get to the beach from the Bay of Islands which involved a somewhat longer car trip than anticipated. Closer to 2 hours than the 1.5 hours we had planned.
You follow the road to Cape Reinga but about 20km before the Cape you turn off onto the road to Te Hana and then the road branches again before reaching Spirits Bay. There is a Doc camp site at the eastern end of the beach.
The sand has a high proportion of ground shell and against the brilliant colour of the sea is stunning to look at but extremely hard going to walk along. We found that there was a track of sorts behind the beach that followed a tidal marsh as you got further west. When we walked along it in July, the water had flooded the path in many places which required some interesting detours through the low dunes.
At the western end of the beach you can link up to a track that takes you onto Cape Reinga. However, the sea outlet from the marsh runs out here and if you got your tides wrong I suspect it would be a swim across rather than a paddle.
We had lunch at the western end and just soaked up the beauty and solitude of the place before making the return journey. I would certainly rank it as one of the more special places that I have visited.
Spirits Bay got it’s name from the Maori Chief Tohe