Today we took a bus trip to the very top end of the North Island. It is prohibited to drive your rented car along 90 Mile Beach, so we took advantage of the tour service. They picked us up in Manganoui and we sat back to enjoy the day.
Cape Reinga is the point of land furthest north in New Zealand. It was windy but warm and sunny while we were there. Our luck for good weather when we need it is holding! At the lighthouse, there was a sign for us to get our bearings. Nice to know we’re so close to home!!
Our driver whisked us along to the top end of Ninety Mile Beach (not 90 miles long, really, but who’s counting?) for some fun. He pulled out boogie boards from the storage and encouraged us to grab one so we could do some sand boarding. Before I knew it, I was climbing up the tallest sand dunes I have ever seen, with a board in my hand. We went up a lot further than I thought we would, and one at a time, headed down, head first! It was exhilarating, and terrifying all at once. But fun, too.
Then the bus drove along the river towards the sea. Wet sand is much more solid to drive on than dry, and we kept to the water, leading to lots of great splashing. As long as the bus keeps moving, it’s usually okay, although our driver told us of buses that were “lost” to the sea…. hopefully, without the people aboard!! It’s also important for the bus to turn off its engine while it’s on the sand – even the vibration from the diesel engine can destabilise the sand and lead to sinking.
The tide was pretty high, but our driver has been doing this for 25 years. One of the buses behind us got bogged down, though, and we had to return to pull him out. After that, we stayed together. It was a thrilling drive down the beach.
One vehicle did not fare so well, and we found the remnants further down the beach.
We stopped at the Ancient Kauri Forest shop and learned a bit about this indigenous tree. Up here in the top end of the North Island, farmers who dug down a little way found huge trees buried under their fields. Some of these Kauri trees have been carbon dated at 45,000 years old! They have been perfectly preserved in a non-oxygen environment and are perfectly usable in wood products. Many artisans are using them to make beautiful furniture, carvings and even chopsticks. In the shop, there was one Kauri tree trunk that was large enough to carve a spiral staircase inside which we took to the second floor.
We took one more opportunity for a photograph at the end of the day. We’ve both been studying the Haka, obviously.