Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Adventure to the edge of the world

Yesterday we drove up to the very tip of the north island: Cape Reinga. Because of the curve this is not actually the northern most point of the island, but it's still considered the tip. We had planned to spend a couple days camping in the far north, but due to bad weather we ended up just doing a day trip. 

It was a long drive to Cape Reinga, about 3.5 hours. We started with a muggy warm morning in Ruakaka, but as we drove the weather became rainier and foggyer. We were worried that we wouldn't be able to see anything! Also Scott's rain jacket was still muddy and wet from caving the day before, so he only had his hoody to wear. Luckily when we arrived there was a bit of a break in the rain/clouds and we were able to get a few good pictures. What a cool place! It really does feel like you are at the end of the earth. 

We saw this from the car and thought it was a kiwi bird! Alas it was just a hedgehog (still cool though)
It's really foggy....uh-oh
Waiting out some rain before we walk to the lighthouse - I made a sandwich! Mmm
Fog is starting to lift a bit. Cape Reinga Lighthouse is off in the distance. 
Greg and Scott enjoying the view
Taking shelter from a rain burst under a tree....booo rain
Pretty panoramic
There is an 800 year old pohutukawa tree clinging to the edge of a mountain that is sacred to the Māori,. They believe that when someone dies they depart from here to the spirit world - their soul slides down it's roots.

Interesting aside: pohutukawa trees are known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree. They are called this because they flower around Christmas time with bright red flowers.

Spiritual pohutukawa tree
Another nice view
Another cool thing about Cape Reinga is that it is the meeting place of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific ocean. You can actually see where they collide! Apparently on stormy days this can be really dramatic. 

Sea meets ocean
I am closer to my parents than to my brother
The lighthouse - it is now solar powered and fully automated
There are lots of nice walks around the area, but we did not plan to go on any. It wasn't the best weather, and also we didn't have the right footwear. Plus Dexter can't go in this area and he wouldn't have wanted to wait too long in the car! We did go on a small side trip to a nearby point though to get a nice view.

Small detour off the main path
Worth it, what a crazy view down, yipes!
Don't get too close to the edge...
Ugh this path is muddy

Next we wanted to see some sand dunes! They are all along the west edge of the island, lining 90 Mile Beach. By the way, 90 Mile Beach is not 90 miles, it's about 55. Lame! We didn't end up seeing the beach (that had been the plan for the next day, but we didn't stay overnight), but it's just a long driveable beach so not really much to see. We already knew we weren't going to drive on it after our last beach driving fiasco :) Only thing we really missed was sand boarding! But we also figured that the rain would mean that the sand was all wet - not really good for sand boarding.

On the way to the dunes
This is what Dexter thinks of the no dogs rules!
We veered off to a nearby sand dune to explore. It's such a weird mix of environment - sand dune right next to rainy foresty grasslands. The dunes are all formed from rivers eroding away old volcano rock - cool.

Technically dogs are not allowed on the sand dunes. But since nobody was around we broke the rules, gasp! We kept an eye on him, so there was really no danger to the wildlife. And Dexter got some exercise, yay!

Crazy giant sand dune!
So happy I wore my boots today!
Greg is spining to the top
He made it!
Cool mashup of scenery
Yay Dexter gets to play too! He got so much exercise running up and down the dunes, lol.
Wow it goes on forever
Duney picture together - thanks Greg :)
Dexter likes to explore
And a nice NZ sheep shot to finish things off :)