More about our tours...
Visit Pouto’s historic 1884 lighthouse, from Baylys beach along Kaipara's scenic Ripero beach on a 3 to 4 hour tour. Enjoy amazing views of the ocean, fascinating shifting dunescapes, native bush and all that the wild west coast has to offer.
Step out of your comfort zone and take a 4WD adventure along Kaipara’s Ripiro Beach – the shipwreck highway. Leaving from the popular Baylys Beach, drive along the sand and experience many of the area’s hidden treasures, as you travel to the historic lighthouse at Pouto. Built in 1884, this lighthouse is New Zealand’s oldest, wooden three-story lighthouse and boasts beautiful coastal views of the Kaipara Harbour, also known as The Graveyard. Over 150 ships have seen their last days in this area and old shipwrecks are often exposed by the shifting sands.
Our tour often comes across unearthed shipwrecks, seals and other wildlife. You will see buried Kauri forests and local shellfish beds.
This is a wonderful opportunity to get off the beaten track where few are lucky enough to venture. Explore the fascinating dunescape with its native bush backdrop as you travel up to the lighthouse with its world class views from the dunes, across the harbour and out to sea.
According to local iwi the full name of the beach is Ripero Waka Te Haua, In reference to an unfinished waka. This waka travelled the length of the beach in its unfinished state. Ripero beach is 107km long, backed by high golden sand dunes. Ripero beach is New Zealands longest driveable beach and is longer than the more famous 90mile beach at north cape. It is just as spectacular! see many varieties of sea birds and feeding holes of bi-valva Tuttua and the endangered toheroa shellfish along the way.
New Zealands oldest wooden lighthouse stands 3 storys high, testament to the once busy passage of sailing ships carrying timber from the regions ancient kauri forests.The lighthouse is situated on the last outcrop of sandstone and is 278 feet above sea level. Built in 1884 by Mr. D Scott and first operated 1st of December that year. The cost of building the lighthouse keepers was 5571 pounds. To accommodate the lighthouse keepers two small cottages and tool sheds were built nearby. The lighthouse was automated from 17th November 1947. It is now under the historic places trust.
New Zealand’s largest and most treacherous harbour, known for its dangerous entrance and many sandbars has claimed many ships. Names such as The Graveyard and the Valley of Wrecks play tribute to a seafaring history that has left over 150 shipwrecks buried in the surrounding dunes and sandbars. In 1839 the first ship went down, the Aurora, a full-rigged ship of 550 tons. Often, certain tidal and sand conditions unearth remains of wrecks both offshore and along the beach. This was once New Zealand’s busiest harbour with sailing ships transporting the region’s valuable and sought after kauri timber and gum to the world. Many of the areas salvaged
shipwrecks are on display at the Dargaville Museum.
Remains of a 63,000 year old fossilised kauri forest are seen here often in the cliffs or along the beach. It is called lignite,and came into being by shifting sands and then the encroaching ocean which buried the forest. This lignite is visible in the cliffs as a dark black layer. Sometimes, in the more recently-formed lignite you will see kauri leaves and the wood grains.
Seals, active shellfish beds often squirting water up out of the sand, many varieties of sea birds and even the odd whale have been spotted along the way on our tour to the lighthouse!