90 Mile Beach, sand toboggans & native trees
Sand Safaris take me for a full day trip to Cape Reinga – driving along 90 Mile Beach, sand-tobogganing and I plant a native tree at the cape.
Classified as a main highway, 90-mile beach is not really ninety miles long and this is just one of the interesting facts given by our engaging driver, Senny, as we race against the incoming tide. These tours go up or down the beach one way, and the usual road route on the other.
We hear stories of cattle rustling; peat-land,large forests on sand dunes, lots of freshwater lakes; and the ultra-marathon and fishing competitions held on the this well known beach. we also see numerous birds, a cow, wild horses, and shellfish beds which the bus carefully avoids.
With no big river emptying into the Tasman the beach is free of the debris usually seen on beaches and it’s not long before we stop for photos before we head up a stream to the sand dunes and tobogganing.
we are given tips for the descent
.. and put them into action.
Lunch stop at Tapotupotu Bay … time for a very quick dip too
The top of New Zealand is Cape Reinga, and Te Ara, New Zealand’s online history encyclopaedia says "according to ancient lore, this was final departure point for the spirit of the Maori. It was said that the spirit, after travelling up the west coast to a spot a few miles south of Cape Maria van Diemen, continued overland to the western end of Spirits Bay and eventually reached the pohutukawa tree. There it descended the roots and entered the sea. (This tree is reputed to have been in position for about 800 years and is said never to have blossomed.) "
I take the 1km walk down to the lighthouse and the views are spectacular as I watch the waves of the Tasman Sea meet the Pacific Ocean currents.
While here I’m given the opportunity to plant a native tree to help assuage my travel-writer frequent-flyer carbon guilt.
If you too are ecologically minded, see the Seed for the Future website for more information about this local tribe (Ngati Kuri) initiative as part of their role of guardians of the sacred places around the cape … $NZ20 well spent and a living legacy of your trip there.
Leaving here we head south again, via the sealed road this time, we head home with the bus dropping us off at our accommodation … I get off at Mainstreet, pick up my rental car and head a little further south to Shipwreck Bay and Endless Summer Lodge.