Oceans colliding - sweet as

Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
Trip End Jul 09, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, February 28, 2011

ARGHHHH WWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! - the noise made every few seconds as we flew head first down the gigantic sand dunes....

what a day!!! we had a day booked with the awesumNZ tour company, an early pick up - 7am outside our hostel and we jumped on the tour bus, noticing the extra reinforced huge tyres and space between the bus and the ground.  Our driver was the coolest kiwi dude, as we pulled out of Paihia there was a dead possum on the road (eek!), he was like "ahh dead possum...." then purposefully put the tyres over it and turned round with a cheeky grin..."just to make sure!!", you couldnt help but laugh! as the day went on and the stories were told we understood more and more the kiwi's immense dislike towards possums (and rats, ferrets and stoats!!).

We started the day pulling into a kauri forest (pronouced katy - but remove the "t" and put in a rolling "r"), these are the big wigs of the tree population in NZ, some are thousands of years old.  As they get older, they get wider...unfortunately the settlers liked their timber, english liked the small ones for their sail masts and the Americans found it easier to pop over here, chop a few trees and take them back - rather than sail all around America and up the other side to get the timber from their land (its all on the west coast apparently) and back (the cross country rail network was not yet set up).  The whole of new zealand used to be covered in them, now there is only a small percentage left...but they are huge!!!! the ones we saw today tower over everything in their path, but as much as they are huge, their feet (roots) are delicate, so their are raised boaded walkways which you explore the forest above and below you from. The forest was rather cold, the sun hadnt yet touched the floor and the bird songs were amazing, we all walked around in an awe at the mighty giants.

Next stop a little cafe and tea break before heading up to 90mile beach - a registered state highway how cool!!!! we drove on and the speed went up, and there we were zooming along next to the tasman sea, i've run out of words to describe the blue of the sea here but if you look up the word blue in a theasuras and use all of the words that mean a beautiful clear blue - you would still be no where close.  Its about an hours journey up the beach, slowing down every now and again to plunge through a stream entering the sea, we had a constant commentary from our mad kiwi driver and learnt all about everything, i wish i could tell you it all/remember every second!!! the northland used to be an island, but millions of years of southerly sea currents has joined the main land to the island, dumping tons of sand making the stretch of this huge beach and dunes to the side. We learnt all about the maori folk legends, fishing traditions, ancient political fights that are still in process over the owners of the land between the government and the indiginous population (the maori), and the acutal length of the beach (64.4 miles - the mistake was all to do with cows! fab!) all mixed in with the mad humour that only kiwi folk seem to have flowing through them - what a fascinating country!

A quick stop and some photos, slight terrorising of birds and we madly circled the beach after them before we headed up a stream complete with quick sand (a bus had got stuck the day before, plus a fair few cars that had been lost to it over the years, every now and again a remnent is visable!), the driver was like yea as long as i keep moving we're fine!! haha! on a dry patch we pulled up, stripped off to our swim wear and after a rather humourous safety briefing (more to tell us about what cool injuries he had heard of!haha!) we started the ascent to the top of the most monstrous sand dune I have ever seen!!!!!! bloody hard work, i think of myself as fairly fit, but man was that hard. Every two steps you took you slid back one in the softest sand I've ever walked on, that was steep - probably would be classed as a mountain in England! =P he knelt down next to us and held onto our ankles as one at a time we positioned ourselves on the sand boards before hurling down the side!!! nervous, i was feeling sick - it was a loooong steep steep way down....but it was FANTASTIC!!!! elbows in, knees up and you actually fly!!! the pain of the way up was quickly forgotten in those ten seconds of flying down and I found myself running for another go, another painful ascent and we flew down again - i would recommend it to anyone!!!!

Driving through the gravel roads, winding up, up and up, before we started dropping into the most beautiful bay I have ever seen - i've forgotten the name i need to look it up (the problem with maori names, beautiful but hard to remember!). We dived into the sea, we had sand everywhere!!! with the sea at waist height and above i could still sea my toes!! the surf coming in was so powerful - not being a sea born and bred girl I am always amazed by its power - but you could see the fish in the waves rising up before you. Cleaned off and famished we lunched on the white sands with the cliffs over looking us - picture perfect.

Hopping back on the bus we headed even further north towards the end of the land. On the way we heard the legends of the departure of the spirits, Cape Reigna is the north tip of the land where the maori belief is that when they die their spirits travel north to their, cling to the only tree at the tip - a Pohutukawa (pah-hoot-a-kar-wa), the new zealand christmas tree, it has a wonderful red flower over the christmas period here, lining the coast lines it turns new zealand beaches to fields of red - fantastic - however this particular northern most tree has never flowered, it is believed that the spirits hang there for their final goodbyes before jumping into the ocean and making their way back to the pacific islands, the lands of their ancestors.  We heard that it is not uncommon for groups of mourning families to come here to say goodbye to their loved ones. So its an amazing, breath taking sacred place.  What ever strand of belief you may hold everyone can appreciate the specialness of the place. You can plant your own tree then stroll down the coastal path to the tip, you'l find a lighthouse unbelivable views and ... the meeting of the oceans..

It is here that the tasman sea and the pacific ocean collide.  It is hard to grasp the awesumness of this, the forces are so huge I don't have the vocab to write it.  But you know when the waves crash to the beach as the come inland, imagain that level of power, those waves, but coming from two different sides and crashing together in a line towards the horizon, no where near the land....extraordinary, there are no words.

A scorcher of a day, melting in the heat, bowled over by the views, we piled back in the coach.  Lured in by the water fountain in the car park, the idea of cold fresh water was hard to resist, we had all emptied any remaining water and filled up all bottles with it...a wrinkle of the nose and your taste buds thought it tasted very odd were accompained by the laughter of the driver - "i never drink that!!! haha! there are no natural water supplies here so they only have what lands on the roof, and you know what else lands on the rood - seagulls!haha" - we were not impressed!

We toured back through the forests and savanagh like areas, speed back along 90mile beach, tide on its way in we heard of slightly more terrifying journeys the driver had made along there and legends of the islands we passed - including the tale a big headed maori chief who decided he no longer wanted his heavily pregnant wife on board and threw her into the sea, she made it to an island gave birth to twins, raised them for 12/13years on this rocky outcrop before they were strong enough to make it to land and take their revenge! he told them with far more drama and passion!!

More history of the forests before we stopped in a workhouse of the ancient kauri forests, the alive ones are now protected but you are allowed to dig for them - an entire huge Kauri forest (trees over 3000 years old) are lying flattered under the ground, its thought that thousands of years ago a huge tsunami knocked over the whole of northland forests, protected by the marsh and peat these trees have been preserved - incredible, i got to touch some of them!

Before we headed to the world famous fish and chips of *insert village name - i'll go and find it*, i know that the name means big shark, due to the settlers that found it followed in their boats a huge shark into the bay, on the proviso that he would know where the food was, and sure enough this bay was teaming with fish.  This particular take away joint doesn't have freezers, their fishing boats go out every morning and afternoon and it is cooked up fresh, the fish melted in your mouth and the batter - delicious! the kiwi's take their fish and chips very seriously and there is a national competition for the best in the land.  We heard that on a slow day in fish and chip shop here because it is out on a wharf they are over deep water.  So the men that gut the fish hang fish heads off rope over the water and get their cameras ready...the restaurant is lined with pictures of sharks leaping out of the water for them!! The little village is full of shark stories that have happened in the bay, including one fisherman claiming him and his little fishing boat was dragged around for four hours by a big one before he could detach his line from it...believe what you will...

Speeding home we learnt stories of the extinct/endangered animals of nz, along with what sounds they make - a nutter of a bus driver!!!!! haha! an awesum awesum day - those memories I shall keep forever!!!

Love to everyone,
P xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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