9 February 2014
From Russel with a bustour
to Cape Reinga and
return to Russel.
The start of the day, in the way Karin wrote in her blog:
"Wonderful holiday, no rush, no alarm clock. Would you think, at 6am there was our alarm clock because at
7 am, we had to catch the ferry for we had planned a day tour that would start at 7.30am in Pahia at the other side of the Bay Of Islands. I quickly take a shower so I still had time for a cup of coffee. Jaap went after me to the shower and would bring the boiled water for the coffee .. yes yes no Senseo coffee like at home or the delicious coffee of the Koningshof where I work, but the next 5 weeks real instant coffee, well, I like drinking coffee so I'll drink it in every way. But, after 20 minutes, I began to be concerned or worried about Jaap, In my mind I saw him lying there in the shower and we were running out the time because we had to pack the bag and had another 10-minute walk to the ferry. Fortunately, there he was nice and calm, not realizing that the shower routine at home takes less time than in the first days of our temporary life on the Holiday Parks. So no coffee, fast all the camera stuff in the bag pack and rapidly to the ferry, I had to run the last part so I could give the Captain a call. Pfffff Seven o'clock in the morning and already done my exercises (although I never do them at home) ".
So we made it om time to the ferry and in 15 minutes we were at the other side of the bay in Paihia where the bus will pick us up. We travel today with Fullers and go to Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand where the Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Ocean meet. We do this with a tour bus because it is not allowed to drive the sand of 90-Mile Beach with a campervan. The Cadrona Highway at Queenstown is also prohibited for rented campervans. Our driver today is Chris, a real Maori, when he is out of the bus he's running fast and mostly barefoot. Karin has just gone for two fresh cappuccinos as he arrives at the pickup point, but in the real New Zealand way Chris has no problem to wait .. ."Coffee is important" he says. We drive a whole tour through Paihia, where we pick up people at almost every corner and at every hotel and guesthouse, until the list is almost completed. The last two people have their pick up from the hotel at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Chris runs fast about three times into the hotel but at a final consultation with the central office. it appears that those two people have cancelled the tour, but that was not mentioned on the list. So finally we go.
This trip that I had planned before in 2003 and 2011, but then always in the last week, when I was in such a tiredness that I cancelled this trip both times. Therefore, now, we planned this trip in the first week. We drive first from Paihia to the north for a pickup of a few people in the beautiful village of Kerikeri, then we transverse the North Island from the east coast to the west coast. In Waipapakauri Beach, we go over the dunes to the beach where Chris should speed up the bus to reach through the loose sand. Meanwhile, we have come to know him as an entertainer. He sings several songs including the New Zealand National Anthem which now has alternating English and Maori couplets. He told us about the creation of this new version. We tear on the beach with a speed of 80 kilometres per hour, and every now and then we have to divert for the seawater. Unfortunately, it is a bit rainy so the view on the ocean is not optimal. Fullers runs that day with five buses to Cape Reinga.
We make a brief stop on the beach and Karin finds the "corpse" of a puffer fish (as we learn later). I take a picture and show him on the bus to Chris, who recognizes him as the very poisonous puffer fish. The puffer fish is a delicacy delicious but preparing / cooking is subject to strict rules. Many passengers of our bus go paddling in the ocean.
After 20 minutes we go on board again and continue our way along the beach. 90-Mile Beach is not 90 miles. The shepherds of ancient days measured the distances of how far they could travel in a day by their horses and so did charge 90 miles. They passed the fact that the distance was much shorter because the horses were not running the normal distance in one day through the loose sand.
At the end of the beach, we arrive at the Sand Dunes and here we can descend with a small board. First we have to pass through a big partially wet gully to come this far inland to the dunes. So Chris speeds up the bus and the seawater is splashing on all sides of the bus. The bus tour is less boring than you might expect.
Chris put the bus near the Sand Dunes and picks up the boards from under his bus. He explains to us how to descend from the dune and let it all see too us lying on the board. Then he goes with the first group up the dunes and gives instructions again, after that he descends the dunes as the first one and shows it to all. Then the first go down; It's a droll face on those Boards of a 150 cm length.
One goes down like a rocket and the other finds it difficult. After the first group had been descending, I decide, but also have the courage to do it myself. I grab a board and start climbing .... what-the-hell .... that's heavy. I find a dune transition on Ameland already tough, but this is two-times higher and much looser sand, so with every step I'll slide 60-75% down again. When I'm above I'm fully counted out.
Video Boarden from the Sanddunes near Cape Reinga
I had paid attention to what Chris had said what to do, so when Karin, with the camera ready, gave the sign "I'm ready", I went on the board and dropped off considerably, because I did not like to go down like an old guy. Now it went perfectly and I moved down as a spear. Karen had in her mind her last sleigh ride in Hoogkerk (by my daughters house) and found it wiser not trying this. Meanwhile, there were more buses arrived with loads of young people. They were going about 3-4 times higher in the dunes and from there go down. Chris (again) and another bus driver went along with that group to supervise them. The dare devils were flying when they got down and crossed a gully and disappeared almost in the beach grass at the other site of the gully. I had best ears for that wonderful descent, but I probably would die halfway the climb ... so anyway I didn't tried.
We go back into the bus and arrive at a gravel road that will bring us further to the north to Cape Reinga. The North Island has been much narrower here and so we drive again from the east coast to the west coast. What surprised us the most is the nature. With surprise we are looking at the landscape in this last part up north, we thought that this part would be a flatter area, but nothing was further from true. The bus winds through rugged hills with lots of pure nature and beauty. The bus is climbing and climbing to reach the parking lot at Cape Reinga, where the green waters of the Tasman Sea collide with the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Despite the fact that the sun is not shining was the sight to witness all is more then enough.
The walk from the car park to Cape Reinga is a 15-20 minute, with reasonable climbing, but more than worth it. It is a kind of a small peninsula on a cliff and a good passable narrow path is leading to the lighthouse with the "road-sign" showing the direction and distance to a number of large and well-known places in our world. Such as London (18 029 km), Tokyo (8475 km), the Equator (3827 km) and Los Angeles (10,479 km). It is just fun to see how far you are away .... (heavenly wide). Everybody takes photos and also everyone wan to help us making some pictures of us. On the way back we walk with a young woman who appears to have lived a few years in Groningen, and now she lives in New Zealand. Its always nice those encounters and short conversations.
Video Cape Reinga
Another new experience Cape Reinga and now on the way back again. We drive on normal roads back because 90-Mile Beach ii is not possible to drive again through the flood. We stop for a delicious buffet lunch with a lot of fish and then further on the way back we make another stopover in a kind of Maori shed with restaurant and shop in it. We had already been there on the way up north for a coffee and now we must wait for the washing of the bus that has a lot of salt water and sand on it.
Outside the restaurant there are trees and stumps which contain carvings. Thus there are dolphins and turtles carved in the wood. On the way Chris is more quiet and we like this version of Chris very much, although his "OK Team" gave a lot of fun. We then drive smoothly on the beaten track from the east coast and come back in Paihia at the ferry.
We still have 15 minutes before the ferry goes so we have a quickly check at what time the shop is open where Karen purchased her nice sitting and lovely sheepskin jacket in 2011. How lucky, the store is still open and the jacket is still in the collection and present in her size. We have no time to a friendly chat, we pay quickly and have another fast walk back to the Ferry. We're just in time, and that was necessary because it was the last ferry on that Sunday. Now we don't have to buy it tomorrow and therefore go for an extra voyage with the ferry. The time is now more than 13 hours past our awakening and we feel that we have again been a lot outside in the open air. Tomorrow we will slowly descend to the south. First a stop at the campervan rental in Auckland because after the problems on the first day, it quickly became apparent that the toilet did not flush, not so tasty!