If you'd booked your tickets 80 years ago on yeoldegrabaseat.co.nz, your plane might have landed on a flat strip of the nearby Ninety Mile Beach - that's how they used to do things in 1932. These days though, Kaitaia has a dedicated airport and it's a good thing too: those giant sand dunes are hard enough to climb without having to lug a big overnight bag.
As any pub quiz bore will tell you, Ninety Mile Beach is actually closer to 60 miles long. Those pioneers might not have been much chop with a ruler but they sure could pick a pretty spot to set up camp. Quad Biking is a great way to explore the ancient kauri forests and to tackle those massive dunes. When you've reached the top, jump on a boogie board and slide back down like you're Richard Dean Anderson in the opening credits of MacGyver.
Kaitaia is New Zealand's northernmost town, and the best place to base a trip to Cape Reinga at the top tip of the island. Maori believe the cape is where spirits leap off into the underworld; if it's true they'll really appreciate the new sealed road, which replaced the gravel track in 2010 and will make that last 19km stretch to the afterlife a lot more comfortable for any spirit not fortunate enough to be driving an SUV.
On the way home, stop for a drink at the Waipapakauri Hotel: there's enough historical stuff on the walls that you can claim you're doing it for educational purposes. If you get a taste for it (the history not the beer) you can find out more at the Far North Regional Museum, part of the impressive Te Ahu centre due to open fully in December 2011. The good news for your friends: Te Ahu has a mainstream movie theatre too.
For cheap flights to Kaitaia use the farefinder below, or visit grabaseat.co.nz the home of cheap airfares to Kaitaia.