The final thing on my list of bay of island tours was this full day bus trip to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga aka the Northiest point of New Zealand. We started off in Paihia, then drove up through KeriKeri where a lot of backpackers go to pick fruit (mostly kiwis!). It’s advertised as being in the bay of islands, but is actually a solid 20mins drive from the coast so a bit misleading! We didn’t stick around long, just picked a few people up and headed on North so we wouldn’t miss the low tide.
And why did we need the tide? Because there is no road up the west coast of the northern spit of New Zealand, but there is a beach aptly named 90Mile beach due to it being almost exactly 88km long… Yeah… Maybe they didn’t have rulers when they named it? It was still pretty cool to drive down the beach in a massive coach with the waves coming up just by our wheels (although it was a popular day for bus trips, it might have been nicer if there weren’t three or more more buses up and down the length of the beach)
We came off the beach before the end because of the tide and took a dirt road through the farmland. Up north most of the land has been given back to the Maori people in accordance with the Waitangi treaty that dictated European settlement and was signed in Paihia in the 18hundreds. A lot of it is farm land, some of it is left wild. There’s also roving herds of wild horses from the original settlement, where the horses were used to set up everything and then let loose to breed. We saw a whole herd out the window of the bus (disappointing facts: wild horses look just like tame horses when they are standing still).
Then came the exciting 4x4 bus-ing as we arrived at the sand dunes. Our bus had to drive down into a river bed, execute an almost 90degree turn around the corner of a sand dune and then drive without stopping up onto a solider bit of sand so we didn’t get bogged down in the river. All to get us to the bottom of the very best sand dune for sandboarding! It’s a shame they couldn’t drive us to the top since climbing the sand dune was absolutely the hardest part! Otherwise it was similar to when I went sandboarding on Fraser Island in Australia, we used body boards and slid down. Unlike on Fraser, the sandboarding slope wasn’t a half pipe so you had to either stop before reaching the bottom or do what one guy did and pick up enough speed to go skidding across the surface of the river to the bank where the bus was parked! (I did not do this).
Covered in sand, we packed the body boards away and escaped down the riverbed to make our way all the way north to the Cape Reinga lighthouse. This is, as they told us, almost the northernmost point of the North Island, and we could see the actual northernmost point which was a spit of land with no real features. The interesting feature that Cape Reinga has (as well as a very nice white lighthouse) is an area of the sea where two oceans meet, the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. On a super calm day like the day I was up here, this is really noticable in that there’s basically a line of swell where the two different currents crash into each other!
On the other side there’s a beauitful curved sandy bay. I think our guide said that one Maori legend says the souls of the dead travel north down the ‘road’ of 90 mile beach and then are released at this bay to the next world.
We then headed back south down the west coast via a little town called Mangonui where the weather was so perfect I regretted not having my swimming costume since the water was so clear and blue. We stopped at this little harbour type spot for fish and chips and sunbathing.
Then it was back on to bus to the kauri trees. These are New Zealand’s answer to the redwood, super tall and super wide some of them thousands of years old. We stopped at this forest to walk around five or six of them before driving all the way back South to Paihia.
Have I ever told you guys about Cape Reinga (pronounced RE-anga)? Because it has to be near the top of the best places I’ve been
It’s the northernmost tip of New Zealand which is neat but there’s something cooler about it. It’s where two oceans (the Pacific and the Indian) meet and you can literally see the border between the two separate colours of water.
It’s just so awesome, in the actual sense of the word. Fuckin’ New Zealand, eh?