Van in Northland – Cape Reinga, 90 Mile Beach and Giant Trees

We headed north to Whatuwhiwhi on Friday 26 October, which was our quietest stop so far. The idea was to get a bit closer to the far north and to give us the chance to visit 90 Mile Beach and Cape Reinga. We decided against the organised trips which tend to include the coach driving on the beach and boogie boarding on the Te Paki sand dunes and chose instead to drive the van up the peninsula. On Saturday we began with a walk on 90 Mile Beach at Waipapakauri and our first encounter with the Tasman sea, which seemed very different in character to the Pacific. The beach itself was amazing, long, flat and shrouded in sea spray. It seemed to go on for as far as the eye could see and beyond. I have no clue why anyone would want to drive on something so beautiful.

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We continued up the peninsula to Houhora Heads and stopped for lunch, marking the place as a spot to spend the night if necessary as we weren’t completely sure how long we would need to get to the cape and back. We drive on past the Te Paki dunes, which are absolutely enormous and reached the Cape Reinga car park. The walk tot he lighthouse was beautiful and we did it in bright sunshine. The beaches and scenery are spectacular, but the most impressive bit for me was the meeting point, where the Tasman and Pacific seas meet. It’s like a giant whirlpool and it changes and swirls and churns in a way that I could have watched for hours.

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We headed back down the peninsula and ended up at the kiwi holiday park at Ahipara which meant that we were back on 90 mile beach at sunset.

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On Sunday we headed off to look for some giant Kauri trees. We found Tene Mahuta easily as he is just off the highway and very well signposted. Unfortunately we missed the next turning for the kauri walks and ended up at the Kauri forest information centre from which we did a damp and muddy 2 hour tramp up to the lookout, which was shrouded in low cloud when we got there. The top10 kauri forest site has eels in the river and glow worms under the bridge, but it rained too much for us to be able to see either of them!

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