I finally went sandboarding!

Sandboarding has been on my bucket list for a long time. I was stoked when I found out I’d have the chance to finally tick it off my list in New Zealand!

Surprisingly, it took me nearly 3 months of traveling New Zealand to make it to the best sandboarding location—the Te Paki Recreation Reserve in Northland.

Step 1: Rent a sandboard—cheaply!

In order to go sandboarding you need a sandboard (duh!).

Not just any board, mind you. A boogey board won’t do. It has to have a smooth (even shiny) bottom to it.

Some are sold right next to the car park at the dunes for $15. But you can get them for $10 a board from a local at 8970 Far North Road in Te Kao.

This guy intelligently capitalizes on his primo location being just a few kilometers down the road from the Te Paki turnoff. Check out his facebook page here and definitely consider hiring from him if you have the opportunity. His boards sent us cruising down the dunes at top speeds!

Step 2: Climb up the dunes—and up and up.

I immediately removed my flip-flops and threw them into the car before racing to the foot of the first dune.

Trekking up the steep hills, ankle-deep in sand was like what I would expect from a trek through the Sahara desert.

Except it’s much harder than it looks.

The Te Paki sand dunes are MASSIVE. The dunes rise nearly 140 meters above the sea.

Climbing up them takes several minutes. On the way up, I admired the ripples in the sand painted by the West Coast winds.

It’s crazy to think Te Paki was once its own island separated from mainland New Zealand. The dunes created a large “tombolo” or narrow mass reconnecting the land after millions of years of sand buildup from volcanoes further South.

Step 3: Teeter over the edge and slide down.

Once we reached the top, Jono and I positioned our sandboards over the edge of the steepest part. We got the sandboards exactly right for the perfect teeter over the edge.

Then, slowly at first, gravity began pulling us down. My board slid faster and faster until I eventually reached flatter ground and was launched into a tumble.

The experience is reminiscent of sledding on snow. I immediately turned into a child.

Again, again!

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 until utterly exhausted.

One slide down was clearly not enough.

No matter how exhausting the climb up, these dunes are worth repeated treks up and slides down.

We spent a good part of the afternoon here racing up the dunes and back down. Over and over again. An excellent workout and tons of fun!

One of the best parts was the otherworldly scenery.

I couldn’t get over how much it looked and felt like a vast, barren desert. I half expected to see an oasis on the horizon. Instead, I could see the famous 90 Mile Beach and turbulent West Coast seas.

Later in the day, we would be camping and fishing along the 90 Mile Beach. But before we went—I had to take one last slide! :)