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Where the Ocean meets the Sea

Monday 28th September 2015

semi-overcast 16 °C

Having had a long journey yesterday the thought of a full day on a coach didn't initially fill us with joy as it meant being up and out of our accommodation before 7am. However we had already booked our tour up to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile beach. Fortunately once we were up and out I was really looking forward to the day. We made the short walk down to the Maritime Building by Paihia Wharf and waited for the coach to arrive. It was a little late so we were starting to get a little concerned but as soon as it arrived and we met our guide Chris we were immediately reassured. We were a very small group and once we had made another pick up we totalled 12 on a coach that would have seated at least 50 people. When we were underway Chris explained the days itinerary which he had adapted slightly to make the best of the weather. All through the trip he gave us information about his life, his Maori ancestors and his heritage which was really interesting.

It was quite misty over the bay as we left Paihia and started to make our way north, and the mist was also present in some the valleys we passed through.

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After an hour or so we stopped for coffee and had the opportunity to buy some food which was appreciated as we hadn't yet had any breakfast. We then continued towards our first main destination at Te Paki. Chris expertly drove us through a quick sand stream which is the only way of accessing the dunes which mark the northern end of Ninety Mile Beach.

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Once he had found some hard sand to park on, the sand boards were handed out and all the others made their way up to the top of the nearest dune. Chris had explained the technique for safely boarding down, which involved using the feet as combined accelerators and brake. Given that I broke my ankle only just over a year ago I wasn't keen to take part, so armed with a number of other people's cameras, as well as my own, I became the groups nominated photographer. Nigel walked all the way up to the top and watched from there whilst I went part of the way so that I could capture shots of people as they came down. The energetic in the group probably managed three or four goes before Chris showed us how it should be done.

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Chris then took us to the most northerly point in New Zealand at Cape Reinga. The walk down to the lighthouse took about ten minutes or so with stops to admire the amazing views.

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From the Cape you could see a clear tidal race where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. It was amazing seeing the clear line of waves coming from opposing directions and breaking where they converged. The colour of the water was vibrant shades of blue and turquoise.

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Once we had taken the view in, we started to walk back up towards the car park, making a short diversion up what is known as Enlightenment Hill. Once we had all got back in the coach we started heading southwards again.

We had already been told that we wouldn't be able to drive the full length of ninety mile beach (which in reality is only about 75 kilometres long) because lack of rain meant that the sand at the top end had become too powdery and thus a potential risk of sinking into the sand. For that reason we would have to enter further south through the forest road. I was quite happy with that because it gave us more opportunity to see some of the Northland scenery such as the white silica sands of Parengarenga Harbour, whilst still being driven down about 20 kilometres of the beach. The journey on the sand when we got there was amazing and Chris explained about safe driving on the sand, and at one point pulled up so that we could look at a weak looking seal pup. He then found a safe place to park up and we were all able to get out of the coach. I took some more photographs; so much better than the ones taken through the coach windows.

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There was a Colombian woman in our group who had decided that she wanted to dunk her head in the Tasman Sea and had brought a partial wet suit in anticipation of the cold water. Whilst she was doing that I settled for a paddle, and indeed the water was decidedly cold.

Once we left the beach we made our way to a Kauri workshop in the town of Awanui. We were able to look at some of the wooden items there and have and ice cream whilst Chris placed our orders for a fish and chip supper (or fush and chups as he Chris pronounced it) which we then ate about an hour later when we arrived in the town of Mangonui. They were delicious and fortunately we were all inside the restaurant when it started to rain hard. We continued on our journey back towards Paihia making one last diversion to the Puketi Kauri Forest to look at an example of a New Zealand Kauri tree. Chris sang out a Maori song in great voice which was very moving, and invited us to sing our national anthems but none of us took him up on the offer. It wasn't long before we arrived back in Paihia and Chris dropped us off near our accommodation. We both agreed that it had been a great day, Chris had been a brilliant guide and the whole thing was all the better for not having to drive ourselves.

Posted by Gill's Travels 01:04 Archived in New Zealand Tagged sea ocean new_zealand cape_reinga lighthouse bay_of_islands

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