Wednesday: Cape Reinga
When you drive along to beach front of Paihia, on the way to Cape Reinga, you’ll notice a fairly short beach front (short in terms of the distance from the land to the edge of the water). Apparently this used to be a popular area for skydiving but there were too many landings on people’s picnics so now they don’t do it here.

We’ve been informed that Saturday is Waitungi Day. It marks the day that the original treaty was signed in 1840 between the British and Maori, causing New Zealand to become a colony of the U.K.

We drove through Waipapa which is translated to mean wet land:

Wai = water 

‘Papa’ = Mother Nature 

Heading to 90 mile beach, then cape Reinga! The driver of the bus is great! He’s so friendly, informative and welcoming.

He’s explaining to us the importance of the Haka as a traditional war dance. Typically disputes were about women or land. Way before Europeans came here, disputes could be settled by how intense the Haka was – if you’re super intimidating, the war can be won without any blood actually being shed. As time went on, new Chiefs asserted their authority through revenge and blood shed (physical fighting).

Certain moves in the Haka have to be performed together in unison with military precision so the team have to practice together as it looks far more ferocious and intense – it shows the power of the pack. If they have prowess and timing the opposition may be put off. 

Manginangina – Kauri Walk

To see Kauri trees! They were huge! I don’t know if this picture gives any perspective at all, but these trees were so huge! Some of these are 600 years old but there are older ones that are 2-3000 years old! Traditional Maori healers use bush plants for medicinal purposes.

90 mile beach by bus! 

A long trail and not actually 90 miles long. One theory is that there’s a 90 mile beach somewhere in Australia (and kiwis don’t want to be outdone by the Aussies). Other theory: it was used as a highway for transporting cattle to market, and cattle can walk 30 miles a day, and it takes them 3 days (therefore 90 miles) but actually they walk slower on the sand. It’s actually 57 miles long approximately.

Sperm whales sometimes get beached or washed up here, particularly after a storm, other times seals, sea lions and penguins have been spotted here.

There are around 300 wild horses that roam this land, sometimes they can be seen running along the beach. We’re heading to the bluff, where 90% of accidents here happen. Many vehicles get stuck in the sand and can’t get out before waves come crashing down and total them.

From the beach we drove to some sand dunes! And then Cape Reinga – one of the most northerly points in New Zealand! (There are no roads more northerly than this, so the only way to get further is to walk). From the lighthouse it’s actually possible to witness two seas crashing as they collide, as the Tasman sea meets the Pacific!

Although Abel Tasman was the first European to explore these waters, he never actually made it to land, making explorer captain cook the first to make contact with the local people.

We stopped at a place to see the old Kauri tree (pronounced codey to my ears), they get found on farmland, usually a tiny stump will be sticking out, and under the ground, a huge tree up to 45,000 years old can be found. To try to give some context as to how big these trees can be, I saw photos of whole tree stumps that were turned until jacuzzi spa tubes, with more than one person sitting in them. I also saw a huge tree staircase which is for sale for approximately $1.2 million (US dollars). 

The wood is surprisingly light (there were some souvenirs I picked up), this is due to the nature of the wood. Once it is raised from the ground, it is completely soaked in water (this makes sense as its a remnant of an underground swamp). The extractors take the log to their mill where they slowly and gradually dry the wood at low temperature so as not to crack it or warp it. 

This was one of my favourite day trips so far. I think the energy and enthusiasm of our driver helped with this!

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