Posts Tagged ‘Cape Reinga’

We were delighted to wake on day three having had a great nights sleep.  After the fatigue of the day before we really needed to recharge our batteries.  Power drinks and a sense of being on a mission had kept us going the day before, but there’s only so much sugar and caffeine can do before you crash completely. Waking up in the Ahipara campsite was very pleasant.  The only sounds were the gentle rustling of the tall trees all around us, and the gentle swoosh of the surf breaking on 90-Mile beach just outside the campsite.  We knew we were heading into very sparsely populated areas today, so we had breakfast and made a pack-up so we could be as self-sufficient as possible. The plan today was to head all the way up to the very end of the road.  Cape Reinga is not the most northerly point of New Zealand, but it is the most easily accessible northly point.  To go to the true holder of that accolade involves a fairly decent hike off road or path – not for us today. The drive was easy enough and we excitedly took note of the turning for the giant sand dunes at Te Paki on the way up, as we planned to visit on the way back down again. The last ‘end of the country’ I went to was Land’s End in the UK.  This couldn’t have been more different.  For a start you don’t get charged an extortionate fee to get ‘in’.  Second there are some modest improvements that complement the experience, not an over-developed wanna-be theme park. And so on…  It’s a lovely place.  There’s something quite compelling about driving somewhere until the road just stops.

The short walk to the lighthouse at the end of the path is sprinkled with information signs about the significance of the place to Maori culture and information about it’s general history and geography. After spending a while there, we headed back south and turned off to the sand dunes.  Emily was fit to burst with excitement by the time we’d got there.  We spent most of our time on the  smaller slopes, but decided we couldn’t leave without tackling one of the bigger slopes. How best to convey scale?  These dunes are ginourmous.  There that did the trick.  Emily led the charge to the top of the first one, with Rob closely in tow.  She fearlessly hurled herself down having barely reached the top and went like a rocket.  She absolutely loved it, right up until the point that she bashed through a clump of sand and it all went in her eyes.  By in her eyes I mean in around, under there eyelids everywhere.  So she and I walked back to the car – she was a real trooper, this was no time to flap and I was calm and she was calm.  It took a good five minutes of walking to get back where Dr Daddy had to administer improvised eye-wash station (squeezy bottle) in his improvised clinic (front seat of the car).  Eventually we managed to get all visible sand removed and although there was still some discomfort (most likely scratched eye lids) there was no lasting damage.  The others made their way back shortly after and we decided the lesson of the day was that it would be good to wear goggles!  Even though the sand detracted from the experience a little, Emily still had tons of fun and would still do it all again. The rest of the day was an uneventful drive back down the east coast to find somewhere to sleep for the night.  We found a very kiwi campsite at Hihi, functional and home made.  We sat up talking late as the wind knocked the trees around a bit.  Around 11pm the owner dropped by to tell us that it was going to be ‘a bit windy’ tonight so we lashed the tent down tight.  It turned out that a weather bomb was forecast for a bit further south than we were, but we were still likely to be on the edge of it.  Not knowing this we listened to the roar of the wind in the trees around us grow until it peaked at 1am to the point we genuinely considered getting into the car or sleeping in the kitchen building for fear of broken tree bits squashing our tent and us with it.

Whilst laying there trying to remember when the last big storm had been (and therefore when the last time the trees would have had a good clear-out of dead stuff) and considering the not insignificant logistics of transporting four peoples sleeping equipment a hundred yards through high winds we fell asleep.  I hope that doesn’t sound blasé, seem negligent or make us bad parents, but we were just so tired that we dropped off.  By the time we’d woken the wind had reduced a lot and we were able to stand down the plan to move elsewhere.

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Wow!  You can’t beat a good ROADTRIP!

I’m going to split the trip up into multiple posts and of course there will be photos and video to follow.

Today, a rough idea of the shape of the trip.

Our window was from Wednesday 29th through to Monday 5th March.  Five nights of camping (for us) and campervanning for Rob and Natalie.  This would be the last hurrah for them before drawing their mammoth world tour to a close and heading back to the UK on the 7th March.

We’ve been as far North as the Bay of Islands before but no further, so decided to explore some of the beautiful scenery in the north of the North Island.

Our trip was loosely planned out to head up to the west coast north of the Kaipara Harbour to Baylys Beach.  Just outside the dubious sounding ‘Dargaville’ (which actually doesn’t look that bad from appearances), we were interested in the surf beach and the publicly accessible observatory there.  After that we planned to head up the west coast to the Hokianga Car Ferry, taking in giant Kauri trees on the way.

After crossing the Hokianga harbour on the ferry, we would stay somewhere overnight before heading up to Cape Reinga, the most easily accessible point furthest North.  Spiritually significant to Maori and practically significant to mariners (for its lighthouse).

Then we would head back down the East Coast via the Bay of Islands (and the Waitangi Treaty House and Grounds) and spend some time on the beach, relaxing and hopefully surfing.  Finally, home on Monday sometime.

According to Google Maps the journey is around 1000km and if you drove it flat out without stopping would take 13 hours of driving.  I think that is insanely optimistic and it would be much longer based on the wiggly roads, roadworks and unsealed bits of road we encountered.  Not to mention the loo stops, the ice cream stops, the tree stops, the ferry stops etc.

I think we probably spent about 20 to 25 hours in the car over the six days we were away.  So between the travelling and sleeping under canvas, we were all delighted to see our own beds when we got back.

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