ByHarrison

Cape Reinga & Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes

Cape Reinga

In today’s continuation of the Northland road trip, we’re heading even further north. This time we’re heading to the most northern part of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. I’ve always had a fascination with reaching the tips of countries. So heading to the most Northern or Southern part of somewhere, reaching locations that are quite literally the last piece of land before getting to another country. So Cape Reinga was always on the bucket list for me when I came to New Zealand.

To continue on from my last post, we left Paihia in the early hours of the morning. Our drive began in the dark, making our way through Kaitaia and onto the final peninsula of New Zealand. We made our way North, twisting and turning through the roads, with flat grassland surrounding our drive. The drive took us about 3 hours until we reached Cape Reinga. We parked up, walked over the brow of the hill until we were welcomed by the famous Lighthouse.

// Getting There \\

As you can see, getting there is pretty easy. You just head North on State Highway 1 until you have no more road to drive on. A tip though: Between Kaitaia & Cape Reinga there is only 1 or 2 gas stations. When you’re driving along that peninsula, there really isn’t a lot going on. In actual fact, there are parts that very much remind us of a horror film. I remember driving past one house, that stood alone at the top of a hill and in the front garden was a boy, on a swing set. This couldn’t get more horror-film-like if it tried. So make sure you have enough fuel. The last thing you want to do is break down up there… there’s not many people around.

Cape Reinga

// About Cape Reinga \\

As I mentioned, Cape Reinga is the most northern point of New Zealand. It’s where the Pacific Ocean & the North Sea meet, so when you’re walking down to the lighthouse, if you look out to sea you’ll see this pattern. This is naturally made and this is the exact point of where the two oceans meet. Pretty cool, ey?

It’s also here where it’s believed the spirits of the dead, leave. At the very tip of the peninsula stands a lone Pohutukawa tree. Having never grown a leaf, yet never died. It’s believed this tree survives here because of the sacred land. There’s a lot more to Cape Reinga than just a lighthouse…

Cape Reinga

// Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes \\

Now this is something I didn’t even know existed. It wasn’t until my friend mentioned these sand dunes that we went to check them out. After returning from Cape Reinga, driving south down the peninsula, you’ll reach a sign on your right pointing towards Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes. Take the gravel track all the way down to the end until the road turns to a stream or until it looks like you’re in the Sahara Desert. These sand dunes join onto the famous 90 mile beach and have become famous for being able to hire boogie boards and ride the dunes. I can hand on my heart say, I’ve never been anywhere like this in my life. Being surrounded by so much sand, and as far as the eye can see is just insanely huge sand dunes… such a surreal experience.

We decided not to hire boards and instead just make our way to the top. We walked, we climbed, we puffed and panted… finally after a lot of sweat, we reached the summit. Getting to the top and looking over the edge, to see just how huge these dunes are was pretty epic. We met a paraglider who was jumping off the dunes which was very brave & tbh, a lot of effort. To get down you can either slide to the bottom on a board or if you fancy something a little more leisurely, walk down the other side to the stream and walk back. Te Paki Sand Dunes was definitely a highlight of this entire trip.

***

I’m so glad I decided to do this road trip. Northland in New Zealand is completely different to anywhere else I’ve seen in the country. A completely different landscape, much more rugged, completely natural and a lot of Maori history. If you’re wanting something completely different and somewhere ‘off the beaten track’, I’d head north. Yes there are a lot of tourist destinations but having said that, it’s a lot quieter than any other place I’ve been too.

| By Harrison |

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