Day 4: Ninety Mile Beach, then down to Rawene
Up early for breakfast at The Northerner again. You want to know how good the breakfast was?
It's all in the face. It was better than last night's dinner. It was just so eerie to have this place to ourselves.
Our grand tour with Harrisons Cape Runner (recommended by the old couple). I wanted to do everything this tour was doing, and booking a room at the creepy hotel was our 50% off ticket.
It was us and them. Hold on grandma. Why oh why are we on a bus with a bunch of old people? Are tours really for the old? I think they're just for the young at heart. There actually was one other young couple, and they sat behind us. Just like the good ole days of riding the bus to school - the cool people sit in back. Well, all the old people want to sit in front to make sure they can hear our tour guide. Who, by the way was a HOOT. The old couple we meet at the Beachcomber were right, he was very merry. He laughed and hollered at his own jokes the whole time and pleased everyone.
First stop was outside of town at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom gift shop :) Just what we wanted. No, not really, at all. But it was full of wood and carvings from the ancient kauri trees that ended up buried in a swamp which they now unearth. These trees are huge, like giant sequoias in California (well, almost - though behind sequoias, they are the second largest trees on earth). Unlike the sequoias, kauri have amazing wood. Except the living ones are protected. So if you dig up ancient 45,000-year old, perfectly preserved kauri wood, you sell it here for big bucks.
a Maori archway at Houhora Heads
Got to climb trees that are made for climbing.
I had read about NZ's special ice cream and had been on the lookout for it since day one. The hokey pokey ice cream lived up to its name and we got it at the perfect place, the Te Kao store - the most northern general store in NZ. They know how to pile it on high.
First beach stop was this amazing white sand beach, Rawara Beach. The sand was super fine, like flour. In the olden days, the women would polish their silverware with it, shine it up real nice.
Endless beautiful beach and no one is here.
Wishing to stay FOREVER. But granny is calling me back to the bus.
Another hidden gem, far far north by the cape. Tapotupotu Beach. This was a longer stop because they served lunch (mostly scones and crackers and granola bars). We hurried and pocketed all we could and went for a swim. Matt had decided to at least jump in, if not swim, at every place we could. NO excuses and no regrets.
That dot is me. My only proof that I did indeed swim. It was a little windy and cold but who else was going to keep the old people entertained?
Here we are at Cape Reinga, just about as far north as you can get.
Taking the more scenic route down to the lighthouse.
I don't know what to say. It's so beautiful it hurts.
Cape Reinga Lighthouse.
What you are looking at is not just another beautiful beach. This is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet and collide. The color in person is unreal. This place has great spiritual significance to Maori people. It is believed that the spirits of the departed leap from the 800-year pohutukawa tree on the windswept Cape Reinga to begin their journey back to their final resting place in the ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
After the cape we headed down to the Te Paki sand dunes. All ready to sand toboggan. The stream was our bus's road.
Going up (if you are seeing anyone remotely young it is because the buses travel in twos just in case one gets stuck).
Getting a little worried. As I walked up I watched everyone fly down and most don't make it to the end without crashing and rolling to their death. Matt went before me and his was the slowest one. I laughed so hard. He hurried and switched sleds when he got down and ran back up. It is safe to say he is the only person who went twice. I, on the other hand, had the shortest, quickest ride and was launched from my sled within seconds and rolled the whole way down. It was a blast. But I have to admit, I was pretty embarrassed with everyone watching. We crunched on sand for the rest of the day. It was everywhere, everywhere -
Ninety Mile Beach. This is our one very lovely photo of the bus driving in the water on the beach. This beach is famous for being a legal highway road (but mostly buses and 4x4 vehicles are able to drive on it).
Last stop of the tour.
Grave of the seashells.
After being on the bus all day, our cozy car and our own musk was nice to come back to. We will miss our new, old friends. I honor them by eating this farm fresh kiwi.
Walking around the Hokianga arch in Kohukohu, waiting for our ferry across the harbor.
Our car could squeeze into any tiny nook or cranny on this boat.
The ferry brought us to our next stop, Rawene, the quietest little green hill over the ocean. Places like this made us want to park the car for a couple days and just bask in the sunshine, tumble down grassy hills and just lie down and watch the clouds move.
Matty captured this beautiful reflection in the stream on our sunset walk through some more mangroves.
Me and my trusty blanket
Matty showing us how easy pull-ups are - not really when I'm fumbling with the camera.
Our very favorite shoebox ever. This place was the best. Less is more. Rawene Motor Camp.
It had all sorts of cute little cabins
Being up on the hill brought in views of the water and sunset from every angle.
This night was just what we needed. Some time to lie back and wonder at all we have come across so far. We love to squeeze in as much as possible, but it's not worth it when you don't know when to stop and fully enjoy it.
-- more NZ 2010 --
Day 1: Auckland
Day 2: Orewa to Paihia
Day 3: Paihia to Kaitaia
Day 4: Ninety Mile Beach to Rawene
Day 5: Rawene to Hamilton
Day 6: Hamilton to National Park
Day 7: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Day 8: Taupo to Rotorua
Day 9: Rotorua
Day 10: Thames to Hahei
Day 11: Coromandel