Water Nomads New Zealand | Location Feature Northland


Featured Location

The area around Doubtless Bay in the Far North District offers some of the best windsport opportunities in New Zealand.  

While it is super busy during summer with people on holiday, boating, fishing and swimming, it calms down over winter. Though winter is possibly not the right word for it, as Northland is also known as “The Winterless North”. Even in the colder months from May to September, temperatures rarely drop below 10 degrees (at night), with the average temperature during the day being around 20 degrees Celsius. The water temperature is very similar with about 16 degrees Celsius (that’s similar to Dunedin/Christchurch in summer).

We like it in Northland during winter because of its mild climate and the wind being more reliable than in summer. In summer, you will find some sea breezes, but they are often not very strong. In winter the wind is more frontal, so you get a good blow with every depression going across, from West and East (Easterlies tend to be wet, Westerlies are usually sunny with the occasional shower).

Towards the eastern end of Doubtless Bay is Coopers Beach. A nice sandy beach which can be good fun in a westerly wind. Launch at the playground for good parking and a public toilet. Coopers Beach is more suitable for advanced riders as the water can get pretty choppy with some nice swells further out in the bay (beware of the reef though!). There are often some waves on the inside which make it a bit trickier to get out. If you go further to the right, it gets easier.

Coopers Beach offers a small selection of shops, restaurants (there are a few more nice ones in Mangonui) and good accommodation choices. A great place to base yourself!

Map of Doubtless Bay, Northland

At the western end of Doubless Bay you can find the Karikari Peninsula sticking out like a soar thumb. It offers a variety of wide open sandy beaches, which are perfectly exposed to the wind from nearly any direction.

There are a coupe of small settlements on Karikari Peninsula, Rangiputa on its Northwestern tip, and Whatuwhiwhi at the northern end of Tokerau Beach. Apart from a gas station with a small dairy in Whatuwhiwhi there are no shops on the peninsula. The Carrington Estate offers upmarket accommodation, and the Carrington Winery across the road has got a reputation for good food. More basic accommodation is available at the Reef Lodge or the Holiday Park in Whatuwhihi.


Great flatwater sailing / winging in the lagoon, close to the entrance. If you want a bit more excitement, get out to the channel and you will find great standing waves, especially with the tide running against the wind. But be aware, the current is pretty strong around the harbour mouth, don’t get caught out or you get swept out to see at an outgoing tide!

Good to know: In a WSW wind, it’s often windier in Rangiputa than anywhere else in Doubtless Bay!

Wind directions: Anything from the west

Tide: any tide. Watch out for the current at outgoing tide and for the sandbar in the middle of the bay at dead low tide. Foilers may prefer a short mast if the tide is extra low in the lagoon.

Skill level: Any skill set. Super safe bay where you can land anywhere and walk back to where you came from as long as you don’t get out in the channel. If you tack upwind into the harbour you find a nice sandbar for speed runs at low tide. 

Rigging area and launching: Grassy rigging area, white sandy beach to launch from. Toilet block (longdrop) available.

Rangiputa, Northland
Rangiputa Beach at low tide
Tokerau Beach on a light wind day
Tokerau Beach:

A long curved shallow beach on the east side of the Karikari Pensinsula. This beach catches any wind coming from the East, with generally more wind and waves at the southern end of the beach and less at the northern end. With several access points along the beach, this makes it an excellent choice in any Easterly wind regardless of your skill set, just pick the conditions and wind direction (in relation to the beach) that you like.

Good to know: You can drive along the beach with a 4WD if you want to pick a spot away from the usual access points or for downwinders. 

Wind direction: Anything from the east

Tide: Any tide

Skill level: Pick the conditions you like along the beach (beginners will be happier at the northern end).

Rigging area and launching: Grassy rigging area and sandy beach to launch from. Toilet block at Ramp Road and at Simon Urlich Road.

Puheke Beach

Maitai Bay:

Stunning beach with a basic DOC campground. Can get some nice waves, but the wind rarely gets in because of the high cliffs around it. Still worth a visit just for the scenery (see title picture). 

Karikari Beach and Puheke Beach:

Beautiful North facing beaches with fine white sand. The beaches are relatively steep and can get a nasty shorebreak. Not the best place to windsurf / wing as the wind never really comes in (or it is too onshore), but can be nice for a surf in the right conditions.

If you want to see more pictures from the area, check our:


Planning to travel to Northland? Contact us, we are  happy to help with advice, or book on our Northland Surfari Trip for an even better insight and great company!

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