Our last day – and what a day it is! We catch our bus in the early morning and we are off to the most northern part of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. You can do this drive yourself, however it is long (8 hours driving round trip, no stopping), and you have to be familiar with the tides on 90 mile beach, so I would highly recommend doing a bus tour. As it turns out, Spike, who we met in New Plymouth is our bus driver for the day! What a bonus!
First on the list – Manginangina National Park. Here we take a 45 minute walk around a boardwalk to see the biggest trees I have ever laid eyes on. The Maori tribes would use just one of these great big trees to carve giant canoes out of that could hold over 100 people! Next on the adventure – New Zealand’s, “best” bakery – somehow I think Spike is getting hooked up here, but I did have the best donut in the world – a very dougy cinnamon sugar donut, Andrew and I had to resist going back for seconds.
Now the real fun begins, 90 mile beach at low tide is considered a road – meaning you can zip along at 100 km/hr, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a small car. As we drive along the beach, the most amazing thing is that there is no one and nothing else for miles. It is a stunning site to see so much beach and so much uninterrupted coast line. As we drive past, we see a pack of wild horses running along the beach – it’s like a site out of a movie!
Finally we stop just passed a small island which provides some variety to the background in the photos. We fun and frolic on the beach, jumping in the crashing waves and writing our names in the sand. I scoop up a bunch of sand here to add to my world sand collection back home.
90 mile beach is surrounded by massive sand dunes, and what better to do with all that sand then to go sand boarding! Out from under the bus appears sand boards for everyone, and we all race to the top of the hill to be the first to go down. I am the first girl and 3rd person to make it to the top from our bus group, I feel good about this. Sand boarding is like tobogganing but a bit scarier and messier. Wear sunglasses for this as you will get sand blowing up in your face. It is an amazing rush boarding down the sand dunes, an experience not to be forgotten.
Since we are all covered in sand, a stop at another beach to rinse it off and have some lunch at Tapotupotu Bay. This one is off the beaten track a bit but worth a stop. Huge waves crash onto this small bay, making it a bit too dangerous for boogie boarding, but good enough to wade in and rinse off the sand. A picnic on the beach to take in the sites here is a must.
Half an hour later we pack up and head to our final attraction of the day – Cape Reinga. This place is very important to the Maori people, it is sacred land, and it is asked that you respect this by not eating or drinking on the land. As you head through the underpass and onto the walkway you can really feel the spirituality of this place. Here the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. There are signs along the walk that point out the places of reference in Maori culture.
As you make your way down to the lighthouse, you will be surrounded by views of the ocean and sea on both sides. There is a view here like no other in New Zealand. At the lighthouse there is a pole with a number of signs telling the distance to various world cities – Vancouver makes the cut at 11,000 km away. A few more minutes of soaking in the view here and back on the bus to Paihia for tonight.
I can’t believe it is our last night in New Zealand. Even though it was quick, I really think we made the most of the time we had. There is always more to see, but I feel like we had a good run at it. Off to Australia tomorrow!