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.

The top of the North: the tail of the fish

The “Top of the North” is the long finger of land that tops the North Island of New Zealand and stretches from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga of the North Island. On a road trip ( the rental car company I recommend is RentalCarsNZ) you will go through the tiny towns of Ahipara, Awanui, Herekino, Houhoura, Ngataki and Pukenui. (heading north)

Often referred to as ‘the winterless north’ by we kiwis, it’s a great place for holidays around the perfect beaches: swimming, boating, fishing, and snorkelling are just some of the things you can do – many of us just relax in the sun!

Cape Reinga’s lighthouse looks over the often tempestuous seas where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet. On sunny, picture-perfect, postcard days, the vivid green of the Tasman Sea and the cobalt blue of the Pacific Ocean is truly fantastic, a truly striking scene – today the blues seemed to merge.

Kaitiai is the main visitor hub for the area: a great place to base yourself, handy to all the beaches, and it’s from here you can leave to go riding along the sands of Ninety Mile Beach, stand at Cape Reinga with it’s awesome views and discover local history and Maori legends.

I went up the beach with Sand Safaris and had a great time (once again, a blog to follow once I’ve returned to Wellington – and worked my way through all the stories I’ve collected – will start at the beginning of this trip and just keep writing). I will confess now, I did not go sledging down the dunes  – I used up my adrenaline quotient with the Paragliding in Paihia. – see the blog of about a week ago.




As I said, I lost my story that I wrote  for the day and  these pics,  and couldn’t get on-line last night … so apologies and more tomorrow night – but in the meantime, the villa at the end is the Endless Summer Lodge a great hotel with delightful hosts Anna & Blaine (tell them i sent you Smile)

I have now checked into the Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga right on the beach and tonight I out with Footprints Waipoua for a guided walk into the forest – so no writing tonight as out!

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