Another long day for us today. A drive to almost the northernmost point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga.
A VERY winding road took us through farmland and small towns. We stopped for coffee and a meat pie (best fast food around!!) and made it to the Cape. A light rain fell as we approached, then cleared to beautiful almost cloudless blue sky, matched with a more vivid deep blue of the Tasman sea on our left and the Pacific ocean on our right! The rough water below the lighthouse is where the two bodies of water meet, usually turbulently!
The Three Kings islands, know as Manawatawhi (panting breath) to the Maori, it is a protected group of 13, now uninhabited, islands that since 1930 have been protected as a sanctuary for endemic species, “New Zealand’s wildlife jewels”.
To our left we look towards Motuopau island where the old lighthouse stood, past the huge shifting sand dunes.
To our right is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand, Te Rerenga Wairua. “It is here that after death, all Māori spirits travel up the coast and over the wind-swept vista to the pohutukawa tree” where “They descend into the underworld (reinga) by sliding down a root into the sea below. The spirits then travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands where they climb out onto Ohaua, the highest point of the islands and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-A-Nui.”
At the lighthouse a signpost lets you know how far away you are from many places!
We headed back down the peninsula, exploring gravel roads as we went. We stopped for lunch at Tapotupotu (low-lying) campground on a beautiful bay on the Pacific side.
Another stop was on the Tasman sea side of the peninsula, at Te Paki creek, to see the huge sand dunes!At Kapowairua (Spirit Bay) campground, we walked on the beach in the wind and watched (wild?) horses grazing on the hillsides.At the high water mark the sand is mixed with crushed seashells of all colors and sizes!
And finally we reached the south end of 90 mile beach, which starts way up at the Te Paki sand dunes!
We got home right at dark, our longest day out yet!