Most of the beaches in the North are accessible with dogs for most of the year. Summer restrictions apply on many beaches, however, including a number of remote and quiet ones which are more-or-less deserted in the absence of dog-walkers! Limitations vary, but typically cover the period from (about) 20th December to the end of February, and ban access between the hours of 09.00 and 17.00. It's important to check locally to find out the rules on specific beaches.
The beaches in this area are often excellent for dog-walking because they are long and not too intensively used. The main hazards to look out for are vehicles, which are not always driven carefully or responsibly, and the inevitable scatter of broken glass and abandoned fishing tackle. Fortunately, the problem of toxic sea-slugs, which has caused a number of dog deaths in the Huraki Gulf, has generally not extended into this area.
The beaches themselves vary, and each has its own character. On the west coast they are typically long, relatively straight and rather wild. Large breakers and surf-swept sand are the norm. Throughout much of the year, these beaches carry piles of storm debris, which may look unsightly at times but often gives interesting insights to what goes on out there on the sea, and where the tides come from. Beach configuration also changes rapidly. On the west coast, therefore, beach walks can be long tramps.
On the east, in contrast, the coastline is more indented, while onshore winds are less fierce, so we often discover ourselves in a quiet and sheltered sandy bay. Walks on these beaches tend to be varied but relatively short.
Beaches in Kaipara Harbour, and similar localities such as the Hokianga, are different again. Almost enclosed and protected from the open sea, these provide placid beaches, usually of shingle and shells, interspersed with muddy saltmarsh and mangrove. Because these beaches are rarely used for swimming, summer restrictions are often less severe.
Subject to these restrictions, therefore, most beaches offer opportunity for interesting dog-walks. Opposite is a list of some of the longer ones, but there are many more to discover....