Cape Reinga Daytrip

Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
Trip End Aug 16, 2006

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Up at 6am for what should hopefully be the last early morning whilst we're in New Zealand, after today it's lie-ins all the way for us (which I think is what backpacking should be all about!). Today we were going on a daytrip to the most Northerly point of the New Zealand mainland. We were greeted by a very tall and shoeless driver called Murray, as he pulled the coach up outside our hostel at 7.15am. For the next thirty minutes we had a quick tour around the hostels and motels of Paihia, before going North, through Keri Keri. We think we drove past the road where my ex next door neighbours live, but that could possibly be incorrect as it was early in the morning and we went past the road sign very quickly.

Our first stop was yet another forest that contained some Kauri trees, they were nowhere near as large as the ones that we saw the other day, but they did have a lot more of them then any other forest that we've visited. Fortunately the Kauri tree is now protected from being felled, but since they take 2000 years to reach maturity, it's going to be a long time until this legislation sees any noticeable results. To keep the Kauri theme going, we then visited a Kauri museum/gift shop/cafe, where Lynne treated herself to some replacement Kiwi figure socks, as the last ones got lost before she even had the chance to try them on.

We then drove for a little while further before going "off road" and driving on a section of the Ninety Mile Beach. Although it is safe and legal to drive on, the beach does claim quite a few cars each year who either get cut off by the incoming tide or drive on a section of the sand that is far too soft to support their car. As if to prove this, before we'd even driven onto the main section of the beach, we saw a van stuck in the sand. So at Murray's instruction, we all leapt off the bus and helped to push the wheels out of the rut that they had got stuck in. A little further down the beach, we saw one of the smaller tourist coaches stuck, for some strange reason he had gone into a muddy section of the sand dunes and couldn't reverse back out. Super Murray and his crew of intrepid passengers came to the rescue yet again, although this time it was a bit more of a struggle to get the coach unstuck. I was convinced that it would suddenly manage to reverse back out and leave all the people pushing to fall into the mud. We also got to see a Mercedes car that had got stuck in the sand and had been completely corroded by the tides of the sea.

For about thirty minutes we drove along the beach, before pulling off the main section and heading into some massive sand dunes, where we had the opportunity to do some sand boarding. So far I have tried to avoid any form of heart racing activity whilst in New Zealand, but I thought that I'd better have a go at this to save face. By the time I got to the top of a very steep dune my heart was already racing because it was such a hard climb. Murray then held onto our board, whilst we knelt in position and then pushed off down the dune. The dune was very steep and with only my feet for brakes, I shot off down the embankment, just about managing to hang onto the board and not go into the river section that began just after the end of the sand dune. I even went back up to do it for a second time, managing to smile this time because I knew Lynne was filming on the video camera!

Next we drove to the Northern most point of the New Zealand mainland, Cape Reinga, which is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. As a result it's a fairly dangerous stretch of coast, so as a result there's a big solar paneled powered lighthouse. We were very lucky with the weather today, because although it did rain quite a lot, every time we got out for a stop the rain vanished and the sun came out. The lighthouse section reminded me a bit of Land's End in appearance, especially since they had those signs that let you know how far you are away from certain towns. We were 9735 nautical miles from London and 1066 nautical miles from Sydney.

As the tide had by now come in, our return journey was by road and we got to pass through some more green, hilly, sheep covered countryside (which seems to be New Zealand's trademark landscape). The rain now came down with a vengeance and the skies got incredibly dark, so we couldn't really see that much out of the coach windows. At one point we stopped at a small town where some people had pre-ordered fish and chips from the local chip shop. Even though Lynne and I weren't hungry, it was torture to sit there and be surrounded by the smell of chips and vinegar.

By the time we got back to the hostel we were exhausted, so we ate a cobbled together meal and talked to the friends that we'd made since we'd done this leg of the trip. Before going to bed for some well earned sleep after a long, tiring day.
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