90 Mile Beach - and a Surfin' Safari!December 22, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C
Up early this morning to drive up to a town called Kaitaia to meet the bus to take us to Cape Reigna and 90 mile Beach at the top of the North Island! A couple of stops on the way, one to take a pic of this cute hotel in Ohaeawai, not far from where we’re staying. Also a photo of the “State Highway”, which is one lane each way, and in some parts, has the same one lane bridges we encountered on the South Island! We arrived in Kaitaia, which was originally populated with settlers from Poland (hence the Polish welcome sign), and took a shuttle bus from the information centre to meet our big bus to take us on the rest of our journey. Really cool store at the meeting place with lots of local Kauri wood tables and furnishings for sale, and in the middle of the room, a staircase carved into the trunk of one of these trees!
We were soon on the big bus off to Cape Reigna at the northern tip if the island, a spiritual ground to the Māori people, and home of the Cape Reigna Lighthouse. The original lighthouse in this area was on an island offshore named Cape Maria van Diemen, after Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman’s wife, but it was too difficult for lighthouse keepers to access and maintain, so a new on was built on shore. Cool signpost to remind us just how far we are from home! It was a little misty when we arrived but we were still able to see the point where the Tasman Sea meets the South Pacific Ocean, and how the churning of the sand underneath makes both waters appear to have different colours. By the time we left, it was fogged in and pouring rain, so we were lucky to get there when we did!
From there, we headed back down the highway and had lunch at a little restaurant (all included in the tour), then set off for the beach. We entered through a stream and to our right were huge sand dunes - perfect for dune surfing! The tour provided boards for everyone who wanted to trek up the hill to sand surf back down - so of course, Dave grabbed one and after instruction from our guide, was the first of our group on his way up! Very cool experience, which I had hoped to try, but after seeing how some people were wiping out at the bottom, decided to stay put and take photos! 😜. Dave surfed down twice, and loved it!
We got back on the bus, and proceeded to drive on the beach, right beside the ocean, for 70 kilometres (at the beach speed limit of 100 kmh!). The driver stopped so we could walk a little bit of the beach to see the waves and take photos. It’s recommended vehicles on the beach have 4 wheel drive (which our bus did, but didn’t use), however, we saw a few private vehicles that were lucky to make it back to one of the 3 exit points along the stretch of beach! We also saw quite a few backpackers hiking the beach in the pouring rain, a wild horse, and lots of people fishing! It was an amazing experience, and would probably have been more so on a sunny day, but great nonetheless!
We exited the beach, drove back to our original meeting place where the shuttle met us and took us back to the car so we could make the 1.5 hour drive back to Paihia. After another great day, went out for a bite to eat, and are packing up to head to our next destination of Whitianga tomorrow morning.Read more