We woke super early for the 4-hour drive to Cape Reinga, stopped for a coffee and a quick bite to eat in Kawakawa, and then drove straight through to the lighthouse. The funny thing about Kawakawa, is we knew next to nothing about its history and charm, it was only after we left we were told about the infamous Hundertwasser toilets – we did actually pass them and I made a comment about how quirky the building was, no idea they were supposedly famous.
As we drove over the Mountain Range, we hit sea mist and lots of it…and then it got worse the closer we got to the coast. Luckily it cleared just as we walked down to the Lighthouse, even if it was for just a few minutes.
Cape Reinga is almost as far north as you can go in New Zealand. Situated at the northwestern most tip of the Aupouri Peninsula, Cape Reinga lies at the northern end of the North Island. It is 100km north of the nearest small town of Kaitaia and some 421km from Auckland
It is a really interesting walk down, with lots of historical facts and markers. Gorgeous views, until the sea mist and drizzle, closed in on us again – we got quite wet walking back up to the car, thankfully it was not at all cold.
Now that we had done the very Northern Tip, it was time to make our way back down South, stopping at so many interesting and beautiful places along the way –
Next stop was the secluded Tapotupotu Bay, by this stage most of the sea mist had blown off and left us with brilliant blue skies and lovely fluffy white clouds, just beautiful
Next was Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes, not kidding these things are huge and people were climbing up and then sliding down them, with hired boogie boards and toboggans. Fabulous spot, but it sure was getting hot under that sun, now the sea mist was completely gone.
Drove out to 90 Mile Beach (so many places called just that, we have one in Victoria and I am pretty sure there is one in QLD and NSW too). You can drive on the beach but need to be careful not to get stuck, some areas are reportedly like quicksand and can swallow cars up past the axle, have seen many photos. There is a local farmer who offers a towing service with his tractor – for a premium of course! We only drove a little way and followed where others had been, we did not want to get stuck so soon in our adventure. Still, it was nice to be able to drive on the beach, something we do not really get to do here in Melbourne.
We then visited Gumdiggers Park, where they dug up really old (100,000) buried Kauri Tree Forest and Amber. It was supposed to be really interesting, but really just a hot dusty walk in the scrub. Not overly brilliant, not sure it is really worth the $12.50pp entry either…although I did get some fabulous dragonfly photos!
We then headed to Kaitaia for a really late lunch…next was Mangonui, beautiful harbour, we went to the somewhat famous Fish and Chips place, for the worst coffee ever, but a very entertaining visitor, this Cormorant is a regular around these parts and quite friendly.
Next, stop Mill Bay and then finally back to Whangarei for a rather late dinner and then collapsed into bed.
We had been on the road for many hours this day, and bed beckoned, but not until we packed up and got ready for another busy day.