One of my bucket list items for this trip was to try and get to the very top and bottom of both islands……it may be a placebo effect, but I just feel like I will have travelled a bit more if I reach both ends!
We booked hostel for 4 nights in the seaside town of Paihia. The idea being that it seemed like a nice enough town to chill out in if the weather wasn’t good, and to use as a base for a few trips out around the top of the island otherwise. As it turned out, both the weather and the town were great….win, win!
After a day chilling out and doing some planning, we took a ferry trip over to Russel (we found out from the museum it was formally named ‘Kororareka’ before the Brits sailed over and decided that they wanted a piece). We took the ‘Happy Ferry’ but the guy who was driving the boat was anything but :-) I just don’t think it’s the job for you if you don’t like people…..or water…..or driving Ferries……
The day marked a momentous event – we got caught in the rain for the first time since we have been in NZ!
…….we found a ‘Plan B’ instead…….
Onto the main point of the trip……up to Cape Reinga – The northern most tip of the country, where you can apparently see the line in the water where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet each other. This is also the place where the spirits depart for the afterlife according to Māori belief.
We got taken up over on a dune buggy over the sand of 90 mile beach…….although the name is slightly misleading as the stretch of beach is only around 45 miles. Apparently it was given the name after the first group of missionaries travelled up it (on horse and foot) and estimated the distance based on the 3 days it took to travel (estimating around 30 miles per day)…….takes me back to estimating software development :-)
And just before we stopped at the Cape, the bus pulled over for some optional sand boarding down one of the Dunes :-) I think I’d get addicted to this if there were more sand dunes around cities!
Our bus driver was great throughout the whole day and doubled up as a sand boarding instructor. He led us all up and showed us how to position ourselves over the board and use our feet to control the speed. He did stress that it wasn’t compulsory, but everyone seemed on board….this included a small moment when a 60-ish year old woman freaked out a bit when we were climbing the dune and instead took off from the side. Our driver was shouting after her instructions on the fly as she accelerated down the hill, “Elbows in!…..knees on the board!…..use your feet!…….uuuussssseeeee yooooouuurrr feeeeeeett!”. And there was a moment of silence when she took a barrel roll off the board and down the hill before dusting herself off at the bottom. “She should have used her feet, bro”, the driver whispered to me as I was the next in line. I hear you! :-)
For the latter half of the week we started the journey down to the South island. A few stops over in Hamilton (because it was close to the Waitomo Glow-worm caves), and Lake Taupo (because it’s beautiful).
And now I’m off to Wellington. I’m looking forward to exploring a new city again – It’s starting to feel dangerously like a holiday after 3 weeks in! :-)