After a chilly start on our campsite in Paihia it became a cloudless scorcher for our trip to Cape Reinga via Ninety Mile Beach.
We set off at 7.30am on the second of two ‘turnover’ days when high-tide is early afternoon, so it was a race to the sea. Ninety Mile Beach is on the west coast of the very north of NZ. It is a national highway and actually only 55 miles long.
You can self-drive along the beach but I was pretty relieved that we were in the safety of the coach, especially with the tide coming in. We had a fantastic tour guide, Derek, who kept us entertained all day with stories and Māori language and traditions.
After driving along the vast beach at lightning speed, Derek took us for giant sand dune boarding. It was demanding walk up the soft sand in the midday heat, but worth it for the thrill of soaring down. Rob’s face, neck and hair got completely covered in sand. It was only afterwards that Derek told us about a tour guide who had broken his neck while boarding the dunes (!)
We continued to the most northern point of the country, Cape Reinga. This area is considered sacred and Māori believe that it is where their recently passed loved ones’ spirits depart New Zealand. The Cape is an unspoilt area with unbelievable views. It is also the point where Tasman Sea from the west and Pacific Ocean from the east meet in a swirl of colour and currents. We walked around the famous lighthouse and the signpost showing that London is 18,029km away reminded us how far we are from home!
On the return from Cape Reinga we joined State Highway 1, which runs all the way down the country to just south of Bluff at the bottom of the south island. Our final stop of the day was at Puketi forest – a great place to stretch our legs and see the towering Kauri trees. Kiwi’s are very proud of their native Kauri and are going to great lengths to protect them.
My attempt at capturing the sea and ocean meeting