• Rach Stewart

10 MUST SEE PHOTO LOCATIONS IN NORTHLAND NEW ZEALAND


Top Must See Northland Photography Spots New Zealand

Northland New Zealand is an area I hadn't explored a lot of until a couple of years ago when I was lucky enough to take a trip out to the Poor Knights Islands in Tutukaka. After coming home from that trip with a new appreciation for this epic part of the country, I decided it was time to explore Northland further and set about doing so.


Northland and the Far North sits right at the top of the North Island of New Zealand. The diversity this part of the country is truly incredible from white sandy beaches, to ancient Kauri Forests, to marine reserves teeming with life and we can't forget the northern most point of New Zealand Cape Reinga where the Tasman and Pacific Oceans meet.



There is so much to do in Northland and it is such an underrated part of New Zealand. Northland Photography locations are incredible and I am so happy to have made the effort to visit such inspiring places that sometimes seem to get missed off the standard travel itineraries for our little country.


Let's start from the top and work our way down. I have chosen each of these locations for their photogenic qualities, the awesome experiences you can have here, and although there are many more amazing spots to visit for Northland landscape photography, these are the ones I have personally visited and absolutely loved.



First up ...


1. CAPE REINGA LIGHTHOUSE


It has taken me too long to visit the top of the North Island ... my whole life in fact! It wasn't until July 2021 that I finally got to visit the famous Cape Reinga lighthouse with my partner and fellow photographer Peter May and I am kicking myself I left it so long.


Cape Reinga is the northernmost point of New Zealand's North Island. It is where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet and you can go no further than this point.

Cape Reinga Tasman Sea Pacific Ocean
The Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meeting at Cape Reinga

It is a sacred place to Māori and a significant anchorage for Pacific voyages. The Cape’s famous landmark, Pouakai Rock, is home to seabirds and has been used as a navigational aid for centuries by seafarers from this region.

WHERE TO SHOOT FROM?


The winding footpath that leads to the Cape Reinga lighthouse creates a great leading line and there are many spots to stop and take a photo.

There is also a path that leads up a grassy hill which provides a unique vantage point and view of the lighthouse from an elevated point. You can also watch the Tasman and Pacific oceans meet and form their Criss Cross pattern. From here you can look back onto the stunning Te Werahi beach and gaze far down the west coast.

Te Werahi Beach Cape Reinga
Te Werahi beach from the Cape Reinga walkway

WHEN TO SHOOT?


I shot most of these Cape Reinga photos at golden hour just before sunset. We woke up the following day to shoot the sunrise back at Cape Reinga lighthouse but unfortunately it was grey and windy so we didn't end up taking any photographs there. The lighthouse location will work for both sunrise and sunset however so you can make the most it!


Spend the night at the DOC camp at Tapotupotu Bay and wake up on a secluded beach which we had all to ourselves.

Tapotupotu Bay Cape Reinga
Tapotupotu Bay, Cape Reinga at sunrise

2. TE PAKI SAND DUNES


The Te Paki Sand Dunes are just a half hour drive from Cape Reinga Lighthouse and are a must do stop on your Northland Photography journey!

The Te Paki landscape has been carved out over millions of years from sand build up by volcanic activity in other parts of New Zealand, creating the dunes as they are today. The Te Paki sand dunes are constantly shifting and changing with the wind and weather, so every visit here will be slightly different.

People come from all over the world to sandboard down the Te Paki sand dunes ... why not have some fun while also capturing some beautiful landscape photography!


WHERE TO SHOOT FROM?


There is no specific place I would recommend to shoot on the Te Paki Sand Dunes as all the dunes are equally impressive! Leave your shoes at the car and walk barefoot over the dunes .. explore to your hearts content!

Te Paki Sand Dunes Northland
Te Paki Sand Dunes Northland

WHEN TO SHOOT?


We shot the dunes during golden hour and at sunset. We had explored the area earlier on in the day so we had a bit of an idea of what was waiting for us. The golden light was beautiful at sunset and showed all the patterns and gradients of the sand.


3. MAITAI BAY


Maitai Bay in the far north of New Zealand has been voted one of New Zealand's best beaches and it's really no surprise to see why when you're standing right in front of it. This stunning little bay sits at the top of the Karikari Peninsula and because of it's remoteness it remains unspoilt and somewhere you can have to yourself a lot of the time.

Maitai Bay Northland
Maitai Bay Northland from above

There is a Department of Conservation camping ground at Maitai Bay and you can walk the Maitai Bay Headland track to gain stunning views of both Maitai and Waikato Bays.

Maitai Bay and Waikato Bay Northland
Waikato Bay and Maitai Bay

WHERE TO SHOOT FROM?


Although super stunning from the ground, I found that the views that really gave Maitai Bay justice were from above with the drone. The perspective from the sky really showed off how stunningly blue the water is in the bay, and then the surrounding native forest looked incredible against the water in contrast. You can also see how prominent the curve in the bay is when you are looking from a top down position.

Maitai Bay Northland
Maitai Bay Northland

WHEN TO SHOOT?


To capture the stunning blues of the water and greens of the forest I would suggest shooting during the day preferably the early afternoon. However for golden light on the sand and that early morning glow I would suggest shooting just after sunrise. The weather had other ideas for us at this spot so I was very happy to have the little bit of sunshine we were given!

Maitai Bay Northland
Maitai Bay Colours

4. THE DUKES NOSE (KAIRARA ROCK)


The Dukes Nose (Kairara Rock) is a bit of a hidden gem for many visitors who come to New Zealand. This New Zealand North Island Day hike offers incredible views above the Whangaroa Harbour and beyond, and definitely makes you believe you've been transported to some far off islands in Thailand or South East Asia!

The view from the summit is absolutely stunning with tropical blue water from the Whangaroa harbour surrounding the dense North Island coastal forest and the islands dotted throughout the harbour.


There are a couple of options available in getting to the Dukes Nose:


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