Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 2nd: Paihia and the Far North

We woke up the next morning to a gorgeous view at Te Haumi Homestay, run by John and Sheelagh Ball. This is the view from their living room. Nice!

Misty, their cat. We had a glass of wine with them the night we arrived and Misty spent the better part of an hour curled up in my lap. :)

We had planned to drive a few hours north to Cape Reinga. Sheelagh suggested a scenic drive off the main highway, so we decided to check it out. Whangaroa Harbor was still weathered in a bit, but pretty.

A few kilometers away down some winding back roads we found Tauranga Bay. Definitely one of our favorite beaches of the trip!

We would have stayed there all day, but we had other things to see! There were a lot of random scenic views from the side of the road. I don't think this one even had a name.

Further down the road we found Te Ngaere...

...and Matauri Bay...

...before coming across Henderson Bay. The path down to the beach was pretty steep and sandy, but it was too pretty to pass up. :)

I think this was right before I got splashed up to my knees. I was so focused on taking pictures that I didn't noticed how close the waves were getting. Oops. :)

This dog ran over to say hi. It was rare to see someone else on a beach; most of the beaches we saw were completely empty.

We looped back around to the main road, stopped for lunch, and continued north. As we were driving along, we saw some very high sandy hills in the distance. Eventually we saw a sign for the Te Paki Sand Dunes and I convinced Mark we NEEDED to check them out. A drive through a farmer's field later...

...we found them!

The change in scenery was impressive; it was almost like being in a desert. When we arrived we saw some people sliding down the dunes on little boards; it looked just like sledding. A lady had a van set up at the parking lot and was renting out boards. $15 later...

...we'd left our shoes under a bush, grabbed some boards, and were sandboarding too! It was fantastic!!! Definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. :)

I would have stayed all day, but we had to get back on the road to make it to Cape Reinga.

It's at the far northern point of the North Island; only one little section of land a few kilometers away sticks out further north. The Maori consider the leaping off place of spirits; the point where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld. It's also where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet.

The lighthouse at Cape Reinga.

We stopped at Ninety Mile Beach on the way back. It's actually only 55 miles long, but that's still really long for a beach.

We saw some shiny things on the sand by the water; when we got closer we saw that someone had gone fishing, caught three sharks, and left them for dead on the beach. Not cool! I did take the chance, though, to pet them the wrong way (AFTER I made sure they were dead, of course) to feel how rough their skin was.

Muffin break! After Ninety Mile Beach we drove south, stopping really only to get some dinner at a small takeaway place, then headed back to the homestay. We were beat!

No comments:

Post a Comment