Experience NZ: New Zealand’s Best Kept Secret

I know what you’re thinking. Aaron…what kind of pathetic self enclosed hermit crab are you? Right up to this point you’ve focused on how to get a Working Holiday Visa and what has actually led you to New Zealand but nothing actually about New Zealand itself. What a newb!

Well, I’m about to rock your boat mes ami. I’m going to drop one of New Zealand best kept secrets and guess what? Its on the North Island.


I know right? You look at any travel brochure about New Zealand and you get tons of enthusiasm about places like beautiful Milford Sound, Queenstown and the Bluffs in the South but not a peep about the North. Well I’m about to give the North some loving. Keep your pants on Kim Jong Un.

Hokianga – Opononi/Omapere

Just to give you a visual the place I’m talking about is here:


Yeah, just a 3.21 hour drive no biggie. We were based in a little village called Kaihu where we stayed at a fancy “glamping” site called Highfield Forest Retreat. You can read about my glamping escapade here.

Opononi/Omapere are twin coastal cities that boasts one of New Zealand’s finest Sand Dunes, fishing sites, white sandy beaches and some pretty decent fish and chips this side of Auckland. In the surrounding areas you can find some perfectly rounded boulders at Koutu at low tide as well as a crap ton of oysters you can harvest. Remember to bring a chisel, hammer and a bucket! God knows the Chinese and locals do.

Let’s start with our trip! We were lucky enough to be going on a spectacular day. There are various marked vantage points along the way to stop your car and take pictures of the sand dunes and beaches of Opononi (be sure to keep a look out!). Here are a couple of my pictures.

Stunning. Even more so in person. Follow me on Instagram @thefrugalaccountant for more.

After stopping every 2 seconds for photographs we finally made it to Opononi with the intention of trying some sand dune body boarding. It sounds as cool as it actually is.


There was a bit of a problem, however, the sand dunes were actually separated from the coast by a fairly large body of water and are actually quite secluded as there are no roads or paths that lead there, even on the northern side of the dunes.


How do we get across?

Being the super organised adventurist I am (not really), I set out to find information at the local information centre. They said that a local company takes people across for $27 p.p round trip… which included the body board rental. Both my inner accountant and Chinese heritage started frothing at the gash.

The boat leaves every 30 min on the hour and we have to be at the docks 5 minutes before departure. They don’t wait so DONT BE LATE! They usually run from 10am – 3pm and is very weather/popularity dependent on that day so I’d advise checking with the information site first to see if they are running before running over to the docks to wait for them.

So there are a few payment options. You can be super prepared and buy your ticket in advance from the information centre like a good little accountant or you could be super irresponsible and make everyone wait for you while you make your payment by either EFTPOS (debit card) or cash while you board the boat.

IMG_20161230_105332 (1).jpg

You can stay on the dunes as long as the last ferry ride (they will tell you when you ride over as its weather and popularity dependent). Having a really small bladder and possibly early stages of prostate cancer (self diagnosed), I always make sure I know where my washrooms are at at all times. Unfortunately, I was so elated at the prospect of sliding down copious amounts of sand I forgot to ask. Womp Womp… no washrooms on the sand dunes, as can be expected but there is a bit of foliage at the top of the hill? mountain of sand? for you to do your business, number 1 only of course. Girls… sorry.

When we arrived at the sand dunes the main hill was already quite busy with a crap ton of people. We like going to path less travelled so we started out trip upwards into the mountain of sand.

The sand was vast. Largest sand dunes I’ve ever seen (no I’ve never been to the middle east and yes I know its bigger – but this is New Zealand bitch).

I had a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) on the way up after watching how unbelievably awesome sliding down a huge hill of sand into the ocean was but I was a bit of a chicken shit, so I wanted to start small. I am reluctantly putting up a vid of Nicole and myself sliding down a small hill. Please don’t judge us.

I just realised that I cant upload videos on here cause I have a free subscription. So please click Nicole and Aaron to see our pansy ass video of both of us sliding down a baby hill via my make shift YouTube channel. I’ll put some music on to make the video more palatable.

God, look at that I even used my feet to slow myself down. Not even funky porno music could save my video, I’m pathetic. Anyways, here’s a couple more pictures of sand because you haven’t seen enough!

img_20161230_113114Top of the sand dune mountain/hillimg_20161230_120412img_20161230_112552



We spent about an hour and a half on the dunes. You could honestly spend the entire day as we only covered a fraction of it. We wanted to make more time for the other activities we wanted to do like go to Bayly’s/Ripiro Beach which is the longest beach in New Zealand which I cover it in my next blog

I know what you’re about to ask …”Did your pansy ass ever make it to the big kid slope?”. The answer is yes I did haters! But we were in such a hurry that I only got to go once and then had to hurry on to the ferry as it had just arrived on shore. Unfortunately, Nicole wasn’t able to capture the epicness that ensued while I slid down that magical hill of sand and into the glistening blue ocean water but believe you me it was awesome. Here are some pictures of other people sliding down that magical hill while I scoot away on the boat, tears gushing down my face with arms flung out in desperation to cling on to that magical sandy hill of magic and delight.


Luckily, we got ice cream afterwards otherwise I would have been crying and moaning like a teething 2 year old with chicken pox. New mothers know where I’m at.fist-bump-it.pngAnyways, insert cheesy line about travelling and niceties about New Zealand here. Insert question to invoke discussion here and thanks for reading.

No but seriously tell me about experiences you’ve had in New Zealand or anywhere in this beautiful blue … green… yellow? planet of ours. Let’s compare notes.

The adventure ain’t over yet. My next blog will dive into the glamping portion of my trip as well as Bayly’s/Riporo Beach and the most protected and the largest Kauri trees in New Zealand.




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