It was a bit of an early morning as we had to catch the Fuller’s Great Sites bus at 7:15am for the day trip up to Cape Reinga. The adventures here so far are phenomenal, but yeesh they are not easy on the wallet. The previous day, I went to a nearby mini-mart and bought a couple of bananas, a box of muesli, and some milk for breakfast and will be getting some rice and veggies for inexpensive lunches/dinners. The hostels here so far have been quite nice and equipped with some pretty good kitchens.
One thing that I miss about southeast Asia is that you could do something pretty cool for $20 to $40 dollars. Here, generally the best and most exciting adventures to be had are between $90 and..well, how high do you want to go?
Ok, enough of the budget-busting rant.
The trip to Cape Reinga is a full day trip. Our first stop was in an area that was on a logging road. The “logging” roads here are the nicest logging roads I’ve seen. They’re basically well-kept gravel roads. Anyway, we stopped at the “Kauri Walk, Puketi Forest” in Okaihau, NZ. It’s a short elevated pathway through the forest; I think the sign said approximately 400 meters long. It was really green, chilly, damp, and I was wishing I had left my long pants on. Everyone was wearing shorts when we left the hostel and so I thought “well, everyone is in shorts, maybe they know something I don’t.” I should have kept my pants on – it was on the verge of chilly all day and I did end up putting them back on but after I had gotten rained on while at the Cape Reinga lighthouse. Anyway – the trip there was beautiful.
We finally came to the entrance of “90-mile beach” which isn’t actually 90 miles. The bus driver explained some of the theories on why it was called 90-mile beach; they mainly had to do with farmers who drove cattle up and down the beach who estimated 30-miles per day for 3 days to reach the other end. Another theory is that it’s actually 90 kilometers which doesn’t sound as nice as 90 miles. There were a couple of others that didn’t stick in my head so I don’t remember them. But in the end, we drove on the beach for maybe 30-45 minutes until we stopped for a break to wade in the chilly waters of the Tasman Sea.
We moved on a bit further, turned right, drove up a stream-bed and into the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes which are amazing to see in person. Part of our day trip included boarding down the steep side of the sand dune. I did it a couple of times. The first time was pretty scary… and I know you’re going to say “You go skydiving and boarding down a sand dune is scary!?!?!” Well, it was actually, just a bit! That sand dune was huge! I went pretty slow the first time but the second time was a bit faster. I could have gone down more times, but I was captivated by the sand dunes that I just took most of the time to walk higher up and appreciate the views; it really was spectacular. I’ll show some pictures but these photos seem to flatten everything out and make it less impressive.
We only spent half an hour at the dunes and then sadly had to move on. We drove for a little while up to the Cape Reinga lighthouse. We drove through a bit of a cloud burst rainstorm that would catch up to us at the light house. When we arrived, I basically ran down to a viewpoint on a hill near the lighthouse to get pictures of the view as the rainstorm moved in. I also wanted to get pictures of the “line” in the ocean between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean that our bus driver told us about. I was a little skeptical but when you see it, there definitely is a point where the oceans meet and integrate. There was a specific spot where you could see a very turbulent, wavy area; really cool.
Down at the lighthouse, there is a sign with directional arrows towards several main cities in the world. Also, the vista from the lighthouse were incredibly beautiful, regardless of the rain and getting wet.
The drive back from the Cape to Paihia seemed to take forever. It was pretty cold on the bus and by that time I was pretty damp. Thankfully we made a couple stops and I finally changed into my dry pants. It was really nice to get back to the hostel, into some warm dry socks and shoes, and have a warm cup of tea! Me and my new friend Janine then sat together and transferred some pictures from my phone to her computer. Finally, dinner and bed time!