I wanted to drive up to Cape Reinga, the furthest Northerly point of New Zealand, it is also the point at which the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet, so lots of cool tidal patterns, whirl pools and other weird stuff.
I drove as far North as we could on sealed roads in the worst torrential rain I have ever seen, we were traversing the coastal road and the stormy winds were definitely not helping the driving conditions.
There were lots of small towns enroute, some a lot weirder than others, including a fence with hundreds of Jandals (Flip Flops) tied to it, another fence with dozens of old bikes.The long winter nights does strange things to country folk.
We got to the unsealed road which was fairly horrible to drive on when we were faced with a choice Cape Reinga 17km or sand dunes 4km.Niall was being a big girls blouse and was scared of the driving conditions so wanted to opt for the 4km option.Under duress I agreed, at 3.5km there was a huge sign 'due to un predictable tides, you are strongly advised not to drive beyond this point'.Turning around would be the obvious thing to do, but this was a single lane track with a sheer drop on one side and a cliff face on the other doing so in a 15ft camper was impossible.So as I headed down to the beach in the torrential rain to try and turn around.By this point I was pretty apprehensive too, as we were not insured on the unsealed roads and were told under no uncertain terms that we were not allowed on Nintey Mile Beach!A bit of superb driving and we headed back up the steep muddy track wheel spinning most of the way.I was determined to camp somewhere cool so decided to take the 17km road to Cape Reinga after about 7km the unsealed road was undergoing road works and the track turned to slushy mud.By this point it was 2am, I wanted to keep going to get up to Cape Reinga and Niall was convinced the road had been closed and we had unwittingly driven through a road block in to the road works, he therefore wanted to turn back and camp at the last town.After an amazing sixteen point turn, we headed back toward town and camped by the ranger's office.The storm got worse and worse, which meant for a poor nights sleep.The weather cleared up by sun rise, which is when I got up and spoke with our new neighbor, the ranger who confirmed that the road was all open and gave me a peculiar look for thinking otherwise!
So we drove 17km through the road works and the dozens of workers who mysteriously appeared out of nowhere.
We finally arrived at Cape Reinga and saw not only the two oceans meeting, but the smallest lighthouse in the world!The area has huge significance to the Maori people who believe the spirits of the dead travel up along the thin peninsular to the after life.We had intended to have breakfast here, but there was a sign saying that no food is to be consumed as a mark of respect to the Maori beliefs. I spoke with the Maori leader who was working on the site, gardening.She took pitty on my rumbling stomach and gave us a special dispensation to have scrambled eggs on toast.She seemed really thrilled that I had asked her rather than just sneakily eating.Although I was starving, I was actually more interested why food couldn't be consumed. Still I got my cake and Ate it!
Just as we were about to set off, a young guy came stumbling out of the bush, it turns out he'd been hiking up to the lighthouse, a got caught in the previous nights' storm. There was I moaning about sleeping in a camper van in the storm and he was in a one man tent on the coast!
So when he asked if we would give him a lift South I couldn't say no.Niall didn't seem so enthusiastic about having a strange German hitchhiker in the van with us!Definitely going to have to give this hitch hiking malarkey a go at some point.
On our drive down South to Raglan, to meet up with Katherine and some of her mates we detoured to see 90 mile beach.I had every intention of running in to the sea to go for a quick swim, when Sebastian (the German guy) saw a nasty looking blue jelly fish on the beach, then another and another.With my irrational fear of jelly fish I sensibly opted out of the swim as did the others!
The next detour was to Waipoua to see New Zealand's largest Kauri tree, they grow so big that it has been known to be able to carve a staircase in one piece from a single tree.It was a bit of a mission to find the tree, as we weren't really sure what forest the it was in.After a long drive, a ferry ride and a short walk we found the tree, they weren't wrong it is bloody massive!We were just about to walk back to the van when three English lads wandered down the path, they looked blankly at us whilst we were stood in front of the huge tree, I couldn't help but tell them the big tree was just around the next corner 'you won't be able to miss it, it's huge'.The daft w***s fell for it, which had the three of us in hysterics on the way back to the van.
We continued to drive south, we dropped Seb off in the next town, and finally made it to Raglan at 1:30am thanks to far too many cans of Mother!