Our next full day in Northland after Waitangi and Russell was to the far north, to Cape Reinga. Here there is a very well crafted walkway with benches for rests and signposts (in both English and Maori) about the environment, as well as two large parking lots. While we were there, it was a stormy day, with rainshowers now and then, but we endured and enjoyed.
The drive north is long and rather boring, but at least the road is in very good condition. Not long ago, it was a metal (gravel) road, but it has now been paved the entire route. So, Andrew and I simply rode along listening to one of our Audible stories (our favourite travel passtime), enjoying the time together, the rather boring scenery, and the instances between rainfalls.
We arrived at Cape Reinga just as one rainfall ended, and we had a break of several minutes before the next one arrived. We meandered down the paved walkway, reading most of the signs, until more rain began to fall and looking like it would become heavy soon. We then hastened to the lighthouse, where we were able, along with about half a dozen others, to stand in the lee of the lighthouse, out of the rain. Once the rain passed, after about five minutes, everyone else left, and we had the place to ourselves.
I’ve always liked lighthouses (and windmills), and this one did not disappoint. The lighthouse and cape made wonderful backdrops for several photos during the fifteen minute walk down the path. But the most amazing thing to me about Cape Reinga is the way the two seas (Tasman and Pacific) meet in a cascade and a mix of whirlpools. It was fascinating watching the waves crash on each other and the mud swirl against the shore. The photos certainly do not do justice to the effect.
Both Andrew and I were surprised to find that Cape Reinga is nearer to the Equator (3827 km, 2066 miles) than to the South Pole (6211 km, 3383 miles), as you can see in the lighthouse’s mile post. The Cape Reinga Lighthouse runs on solar/battery power and is fully automated, being monitored remotely by computers in Wellington.
After about fifteen minutes, we saw that another storm was headed our way, and we decided to head back up the hill to the car. We took a slight detour to the high point of the point, for a 360º view. The beach to the west looked magnificent, but we headed back to the car, arriving there just as another large downpour began. Good timing, both coming and going!
During the drive back to our Kerikeri motel, we stopped for a (rather expensive) lunch in Houbora of nachos and a shake (shared). Then we drove a bit to the west to Ninety Mile Beach. Again, the weather treated us nicely, having been raining when we arrived and stopping shortly thereafter, giving us a beautifully windy fifteen minutes before starting back up again just as we returned to our car.
Ninety Mile Beach is not really 90 miles (140 km) long, but the first explorers (missionaries) measured distances by how long it took their horses to travel, usually averaging 30 miles in a day. The beach is in fact only 55 miles (88 km) long. The missionaries neglected to consider that their horses traveled more slowly in the sand of the beach. Still, it is a very long, flat, wonderful beach. (If you visit Ninety Mile Beach, be careful to not get your car stuck in the sand, as when the tides come in, the entire beach is often submerged. People have died thusly.)
This was a wondeful day, though the drive was long and rather boring, because we got to see Cape Reinga (my favourite spot of our Northland trip) and Ninety Mile Beach, as well as listen to a couple of our Audible stories. We highly recommend that when you are in New Zealand, you take the time to see Cape Reinga, and perhaps the weather will be at least as nice for you as it was for us (and hopefully, better).