Sunday, March 23, 2014

Where in Hell is Cape Reinga Light House?

500+ years old kauri tree
At Cape Reinga of course, right at the most northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand. And, we've been there! Hoorah!

It's a 400 km odd round trip from Paihia where we were staying at the Paihia Lodge Resort to Cape Reinga, so we decided to let someone else do the driving and signed up for a bus tour which began at the unholy hour of 7:15 am which meant we had to get out of bed at 6:30 am ... not all that impressed.

Our bus driver picked us up at our resort and away we drove with about 30 other tourists, even an older couple (yes, older than us) who are New Zealanders.

We drove for an hour to the Ancient Kauri Kingdom site with restaurant, kauri carving shop and something the driver called "fuddy duddly" which to New Zealanders apparently means toilets. Here we, yes, you guessed it, visited the fuddy duddly and picked up a cup of coffee for breakfast. We spent 20 minutes looking at the carvings which included a vertical staircase carved by chain saw out of a 3 metre kauri log.

When I see these things I am always amazed at what skills people have; to conceptualise a vertical , helical staircase and then cut it as well as it was takes real skill ... or perhaps a lot of trees.

From there, we drove farther north and after travelling 20 km or so through a forestry plantation of beautiful pine trees (there are literally millions here), we entered 90 Mile Beach. After a short delay with some tourists in a camper van who had become bogged getting off the beach, we drove onto the beach and headed north again. It reminded me of Frasers Island off the Queensland Coast. Flat and straight.

Our bus
The driver told us that going up the beach cut 25 minutes off the journey and that it was possible to travel at the max allowable 100 km/hr, which he did, driving through numerous areas of fresh water flowing from the nearby hills into the Tasman Sea to our left. We stopped for a short while at a spot along the beach and although the driver offered sufficient time for anyone wanting to swim, the opportunity, nobody braved the cold waters, even the young and hardy.

But, the young and hardy and a couple of older people did brave the sand dune boarding a few kilometres farther up the beach and into the hills. We declined. The thought of having sand in our clothes for another few hours didn't appeal, although I had given it serious thought with a view to retaining my Putin like "action man" image after white water rafting at Turangi. Not today.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Next stop was at Cape Reinga where we debussed and walked a couple of kilometres down a declining walkway to reach the light house. After taking a few snaps and reading the information boards, we walked up the incline which was excellent exercise for our hearts, minds and bodies generally. We've walked 5-8 km per day since arriving in NZ which is excellent for our health and fitness program.

From Cape Reinga, we drove for about 30 minutes to a lovely little cafe/service station where we had lunch that was provided as part of the tour cost. While there, suddenly eight police vehicles and as many police officers arrived and while the driver assured us they weren't after him, one of the officers revealed that they had been doing marihuana raids. This explained the helicopter we had seen near the forestry reserve carrying camera equipment (or perhaps sensing equipment?) hanging 20 metres below. Casting my mind back to the days when I was a police officer, I reminded myself that police have to eat too, they were simply there for lunch.

After a short stop during our return to allow people to attend to their fuddy duddly needs, we continued home along the winding road that runs through numerous small towns, all of which are beautiful as is the rest of New Zealand. At around 5:30 pm we arrived back at the Paihia Lodge ready for a shower, a glass of red and dinner.


PS: We are yet to visit Cape York Peninsula, the most northern part of Australia.

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