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Pingao on dunes, Ninety Mile Beach, Northland

The shifting dunes of Ninety Mile Beach make up some of the largest areas of active sand dunes in New Zealand. The sand, carried up from the coast further south, moved onshore by waves and currents and then blown inland by the prevailing southwesterlies, has been continually added to these huge dune fields for many thousands of years — a process which continues to this day. In some places the dunes are higher than 150 metres, presenting a Sahara-like scene that is in striking contrast to the green landscapes of much of the rest of New Zealand.

The northern end of Ninety Mile Beach, around the Te Paki Stream area, has some of the largest and most extensive active dunes. This photograph is typical of the scenery in these parts: little or no vegetation, huge expanses of rippled sand and a never-ending play of sunlight and fleeting cloud shadows on high golden-brown slopes stretching away into the distance.


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