The tippy-top of New Zealand! The day was overcast and cloudy, but it never rained. We made it to Cape Reinga and its famous, albeit tiny, lighthouse. When you look straight out, there is endless ocean – Pacific, to be exact. The nearest land, looking out in the second and third photos, is New Caledonia, at about 900 miles, followed by Fiji, at 1,200 miles or so. So – quite remote.
When we arrived at Cape Reinga, the parking lot was full, and a tour bus pulled in right after us. There were lots of people wanting to claim that they had been to the northernmost spot in NZ! We were reminded of our 82 days of driving around the UK, when we went to John o’Groats and Dunnet in Scotland – the most northerly points in mainland UK.
There is only one major road, SH 1, available to the top of the country, so we traveled the same highway in each direction, but when heading south, we made two stops: Tapotupotu Bay and the Giant Tepaki Sand Dunes, both short distances off SH 1, but on unpaved roads! We have encountered unpaved roads 5-6 times in the Northland. It seems unbelievable to us that these are advertised, government-promoted attractions, yet you must drive on unpaved roads, about five miles each way, in and out, to reach them. As we bumped along, zigzagging to avoid potholes, we were glad we had a rental car! And we were even happier that the car was SUV-ish rather than Sports Car-ish, so we didn’t bottom out. We probably wouldn’t have gone down some of those roads if we had a car like our beloved Mazda Miata.
The dunes were most interesting. The only other similar experience we had was at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Here, near Cape Reinga, the sand came from volcanoes that erupted in the center of New Zealand’s North Island about 2 million years ago. It is all over the region. A vendor there was renting small body boards for children to coast down the dunes on their tummies. And we saw people hiking, way up on top of the dunes. We are guessing that for every step forward, they took two backward!
Oh, and we did have one more stop – as we returned to Cable Bay, we saw an incredible sight: more than a dozen kite surfers out in the bay. The wind was pretty vigorous, and they were passing each other as well as seagulls. We watched, charmed, for about 30 minutes. There is a video of them at the end of our photos.
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