This is a pilgrimage for Maori who hold the tip of New Zealand sacred. This is where they believe the spirits of their deceased loved ones gather to be sent away in peace. Regardless of your beliefs, it's a remarkable thing to stand on the top of the North Island where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. Take a full day tour including Ninety Mile beach.
90 Mile Beach
As private cars aren't insured to drive on Ninety Mile Beach - even though it's an official highway, it's best to take a bus tour. (They also know how not to get stuck in the rising tide.) I took a Great Sights tour and there were boogie boards for all of us to zoom down the sand dunes. It's a breathless five minute walk to the top and 16 seconds to get down. Best tip: keep your mouth closed!
Mangonui fish and chips
This is a local gem that is well worth starving for. The fish and chip shop/café stands on stilts in the harbour and is frequented by hundreds of hungry souls from far and wide. Their fish is freshly caught and you can eat at wooden tables and chairs under the awning on the veranda or take it down to the beach.
The west coast is home to Tane Mahuta, the tallest Kauri in the world at 51.2m and estimated to be 2300 years old. Putting that into perspective, he was a little ricker when Jesus was born. But what is even more special about this forest are all the mighty Kauri that are dotted everywhere you look, standing like sentinels on the side of the road and hiding further in. Walk the track to see the oldest Kauri discovered in New Zealand, Te Matua Ngahere and you're going back to Bronze-age man.
This 506-hectare property just out of Paihia was purchased by Lord and Lady Bledisloe and donated to New Zealand in 1932. Take the wooden walkway from the new visitor centre through native bush down to the iconic Treaty grounds. See the giant waka displayed under an open-sided Marae-style roof. Step into Te Whare Runanga to see floor to ceiling carvings from every tribe. Tour Treaty House, built in 1833 and used as a shearing shed before it was restored. And above all, take time to enjoy the stunning view.