Wednesday, 13 September 2017

DAY 13 - SEE THE LINE WHERE THE SEA MEETS THE SEA

Thank goodness the weather has been gloriously sunny since leaving Auckland, because it’s an early early 7.15am call to get on the bus this morning… but it’s going to be worth it as we’re setting off to Cape Reinga!  
One thing you very quickly discover about travelling an entire country is that the bus journeys are LONG - this one for instance is going to take us over 4 hours to get from Paihia to Giant Te Paki alone - so thank goodness the Stray bus tours put several rest stops in along the way. 
The first stop we made was at Adventure Puketi in Okaihau, about 40 minutes west of Paihia, which had a series of different rainforest walks depending on how much time you have. As we only had about half an hour to stretch our legs we chose the quickest walk (which we still had to run the last leg in order to not miss the bus!) but it meant we got to see more Kauri trees, this time in a more natural, but just as stunning, environment. Even with all the people on the walkways it still seems eerily quiet yet peaceful. You almost expect David Attenborough to start narrating in your ear about the canopy looming above you.

The next stop in Taipa was more for convenience than scenery - a cute but slightly desolate roadside cafe to pee (always, always go pee when given the chance, even if you don’t really need to go), stock up on breakfast and to grab lunch food for later. For such an out-of-the-ways cafe it had some of the most delicious homemade sandwiches and cakes I’ve had in a long time! 
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about stocking up on supplies that really gets your excitement motor going for any road trip! 
Pun intended? Quite possibly…
Then, the piece de resistance - the drive down 90 Mile Beach! I know people go driving through the desert in big ass, tricked out dune buggies or 4x4′s, (you know, the ones that are DESIGNED to travel through sand) but there’s something extra adrenaline-rushing about a FREAKING TOUR BUS going hell for leather up one of the longest beaches in the world. Literally, picture the type of bus you used to take to school, then picture it WEAVING between the sand and the sea. For NINETY MILES!
It’s especially disconcerting when the driver casually mentions that we could legitimately get stuck at any point (hence why he’s going to go hell of leather) and in that case we’d be pretty screwed. Kiwi drivers are so chill, man!
But I’ve got to say it was one of the coolest experiences of my life (and I’ve successfully ridden a camel without falling off. It was close but I did it) just hanging out at the front of the bus, watching the coast whip past us at lightning speed, seeing the spray of the waves come up past the top of the windows… we even stopped off about half way to put our feet in the Tasmin sea, which of course meant taking some awesomely timed ‘jumping in the air’ photos with nothing but beach and the ocean spread out around us.
Eventually we made it to Giant Te Paki, which can mean only one thing - sand boarding time! For anyone planning on going sand boarding, I’d recommend getting your arse down the gym to prepare ahead of time - pick something like a Vertical Climber - because trying to walk up a sand dune is HARD! Climbing up a near vertical hill is bad enough, but then add in fine sand which moves and has nothing in the way of foot holds, plus holding on to a body board for dear life, and you can see why it takes an effing while to make it to the top. 
You kind of have to do a combo of running like a maniac, then digging your board into the sand as an anchor in order to catch your breath, and repeat. Or just settle for doing a series of mini-sand duning if you’re naturally inclined to slide backwards. 
But goodness, my lovelies, keep it up until you get to the top - there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as conquering the giant fucker and standing proud at the top, board in the air, celebrating like you’re the Roman Champion you are. Queen may or may not be playing in your head, your choice.
Then you get your belly on that board and take the quick route down!
Lesson number 14 - No matter how much your body tells you to scream, whether through fear or having fun, DO NOT open your mouth as you slide down a dune! You’re just asking to end up swallowing a butt-load of sand!

Very much out of breath and covered in sand (there’s nothing quite like the feeling of sand in the bra. Or the butt crack) we all jumped back on the bus and headed out to Taupotupotu Bay for lunch, and put our feet in the Pacific sea. Two different types of sea in one day, how fancy! 
Or in my case, my entire body. How else was I going to get the sand out?
We finally made it to Cape Reinga by the early afternoon, and got to walk down to the Lighthouse. Cape Reinga is pretty much at the very tip top of New Zealand, so the view from the Lighthouse felt like being at the very edge of the world - cool fact, you can legitimately see where the Tasman and the Pacific seas join together, which isn’t something you really think about until you see it with your own two eyes!
There is also this really cool set of signs that point in all directions, to different cities to all over the world, showing how far away they are. Seeing London on that sign did make me miss home, but is also an incredible way to showcase just how far we had all made it to be here, and to experience this wonderful, almost once in a lifetime kind of day. 
So to celebrate, we ended the day by getting proper Kiwi fish and chips from Mangonui Fish Shop and Takeaways, which we ate looking over beautiful views of the Doubtless Bay. Then back to the Pipi Patch for an evening pub quiz, then dancing and drinking the night away.
Hey, I’m British, how else do you think I’d celebrate?

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