Posted by: dammer145 | October 24, 2008

A trip North

Today we had a bus tour booked – it would take us all over Northland all the way up to Cape Reinga.

After another breakfast fit for a king, we walked down to the main road where the bus would pick us up. Sure enough, after about ten minutes, the Fuller adventure bus picked us up. Our driver was a crazy Maori from Kawakawa – he drove the bus as if it was a sports car or so. We were on the bus with about fourty other passengers.

All aboard!

Soon we were on our way due north. We passed small villages such as Kaeo and Taipa, where the Polynesian voyager Kupe is said to have made first landfall. According to popular tradition Kupe found the Fish of Maui (the North Islands) around 950 A.D. Our trip took us further along waters such as Doubtless Bay and Cable Bay. As we drove along, the driver told us stories about the surroundings and sung us Maori songs.

Soon we stopped for morning tea at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom near Waiharara, a coffee-house along with an adjacent shop where you could buy anything you could imagine made from Kauri wood. The wood they use for all the items comes from trees that either fell down naturally or ones they have dug up that fell a long time ago. It is no longer permitted to fell Kauri trees, as only about 3% of the original forest now remains. European settlers saw the Kauri trees as a superb source for building houses, ship masts and furniture, resulting in an almost complete destruction of the Kauri habitat today. Anouk and I had some coffee and tea and a quick browse through the shop as we would be returning there later on in the afternoon for another cuppa.

Decisions, decisions.

We set on our way northwards, past Ngataki and Te Kao, then past the Waitiki Landing site. The final twenty kilometers or so towards Cape Reinga were on a very bouncy dirt track road – at one point I was launched about a metre out of my seat! After a lot of bumps we made it to the Cape Reinga parking – a site that was still rather heavily being developed. After a short (very windy) walk, we made it to the lighthouse – normally there was a pole here with sings indicating how far it was to various world cities such as London, but the vicious winds last winter had snapped all the signs straight off.

Cape Reinga stands like a needle in the convergence of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. At Cape Reinga many features hold great spiritual importance in Maori culture. One of the most important of these is a tree.

Right on the brink of the Cape stands a single pohutukawa tree, clinging to the rock through weather and wind. Maori believe that the spirits of the recently deceased make their way down through the roots of this very tree into the underworld and from there onwards eastward towards Hawaiiki-a-nui, the spiritual ancestral home of the Maori people. The Maori name of the Cape is Te Rerenga Wairua, the “Place of Leaping of the Spirits”. This place is the end of a journey along Te Ara Wairua, the Spirits’ path that winds its way up the country.

Te Rerenga Wairua, the “Place of Leaping of the Spirits”.

Our original plan was to post a number of postcards here, but the wind and rain was blowing so hard that we could only write one to put it in the Cape Reinga post box (along with the official Cape Reinga postage stamp!).

We made our way back to the bus and we set off towards the enormous Te Paki sand dunes, only a short distance south from the Cape. These sand dunes stand about 30 metres high and kiwis have found a fun use for them: boogie boarding! Boogie boarding is basically surfing on sand. We were all given a boogie board and first had to climb up one of these dunes – once I was up it was clear to me that it was time to get back to the gym once home. The wind was still blowing rather hard and everything got full of sand – ears, nose, eyes, clothes, etc. Surfing the sand down was a matter of seconds – good fun though!

Wheeee!

We drove onwards through a little creek (the bus is modified for these purposes) and then onto the Ninety Mile Beach. The beach goes straight southwards and has enormous waves crashing onto the white sands. As we drove along the bus chased off many an annoyed bird on the beach. The driver told us about a fishing competition that is held on the beach each year. The goal of the competition is to catch the biggest red snapper, with prizes up to $50.000 NZD.

Soon we were back in the forest, back on our way to the Ancient Kauri Kingdom. After having bought one or two souvenirs, we were on our way again to the Puketi forest where Anouk and I had been by ourselves the day before.

The bus dropped us back off at the B&B and towards eight o’clock we headed into Kerikeri again to Cafe Cinema, a restaurant Christine and Rod had suggested. From the outside it seemed rather old and dilapidated. Cafe Cinema served a double purpose: it was both the local cinema with three screens and a restaurant. The place was run by Anita and Rolf. Rolf was a Dutch guy who emigrated 25 years ago. Anouk had linguine with seafood and I had pork belly stuffed with apricots and prunes. After dinner Rolf came and had a chat with us and told us how much he liked Belgian cuisine!

Soon we were heading back and, again, we were fast asleep within minutes.

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