4th of September 2011
Cape Reinga Bound
One of the great things of doing an all inclusive package with the Magic Bus is the fact that you don’t need to organise a thing! At 7am, only slightly hung over (somehow managed to down some ibuprofen and water at 1am in preparation), we were all picked up and driven along a scenic route through a land rich in culture and legend.
90 Mile Beach
Due to the tide being high earlier in the day we had to change the regular schedule and head straight towards 90 mile beach. Technically speaking the beach was misnamed and is truly only 55miles. But 90mile beach has a much nicer ring to it and so the name has stuck.
Driving along the beach swerving to avoid incoming waves, we headed to the sand dunes where we were to do some sandboarding, with a brief stop to enjoy this stunning section of beach.
After exploring and running around on the beach we headed slightly inland to the dunes. Sand boarding sounded like a blast and I couldn’t wait…until I saw the size and angle of the dune to boarded down. It was huge, massive, steep! And, I am sad to say, was struck by fear. I opted for a slightly less deadly dune while the others braved the monster taking their lives in their own hands. It didn’t help when our guide told us about a girl who had broken her leg, and how he had lost his bottom front teeth, all to the dune.
For lunch we stopped at this stunning, secluded bay, that made you want to pitch a tent and stay for ever. The sun was shining, the breeze was cool and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
While Jen (England), Freya (Scotland) and I were eating, Lissy (Germany) came over to the rest of us and asked if we had seen the seal. We quickly packed up and went to have look. The thing was massive! And the closer we got the more I realised it was a leopard seal, a sub-antarctic creature that was hundreds of miles away from home. The poor creature did not look very well and had even attempted to swim away but had returned to shore. It was either sick or overheated or both. Our driver said he would call the authorities but there wasn’t much to be done. I never thought I would ever come face to face with a leopard seal in the wild. Goes to show you never know what you may see on the magic Tour.
The Northern Most Point
After getting our adrenalin rush we headed to the Northern most point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. The Cape gets its name from Maori legend and the word Reinga means “underworld”. Another Maori name for the area is Te Rerenga Wairua, meaning the “leaping off place of the spirits”. Both of these names refer to the belief that the area is where spirits of the dead leap off and enter the underworld. The place is very Tapu, or restricted or forbidden. No food is allowed to the point and visitors are asked to be respectful.
The area is unmistakably powerful and amazing and the views are tremendous. Its also where the two bodies of water meet, the Pacific Ocean and the Abel Tasman Sea. This is one trip everyone should make.
Kauri trees are native to New Zealand and were almost cleared out in earlier years due to their strength and beauty. The trees are also self limbing, meaning they drop lower limbs as they grow and therefore do not have knots in the wood like other trees. These trees are impressive to say the least and it is now illegal to cut them down. The only trees available for use are those blown down in storms or what is known as swamp kauris, trees that feel many years ago and have been buried in the swamps. The wood is still good though, preserved by the swamp itself. The museum was fascinating, but expensive, there was even a stairwell built out of an entire trunk.
Our next stop was a kauri forest and man were the trees big. All I can do is show a photo.
After a long day of touring and fun and discovering we headed back “home” to Paihia. It was a tremendous day and again I am thankful to have discovered the route on Magic Bus. After a dip in the hot tub and some dinner we curled up to watch number 2 and 3 of Lord of the Rings, after a further 6hrs…. we headed to bed.
Tomorrow promises to be another fun filled day with the girls.