Dunerider Tour

Trip Start Aug 13, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, June 1, 2008

We had booked a tour for Sunday, through Dune-Rider as we wanted to see Cape Reinga, and Ninety Mile Beach. You are normally not allowed to take rental cars onto the beach so this was a good way of getting to see both places, as well as a couple of other places.

It was an early start - we were picked up from the hotel at 7.15am, and after the rest of the pickups we were on our way to Puketi Forest to look at the giant Kauri trees. This is not the site of the tallest Kauri tree, that honour belongs to Tane Mahuta, growing in Waipoua Forest, but it was still good to see these magnificent and old trees.

After the forest, we headed up to Ninety Mile Beach, which is not actually 90 miles long, but more like 55 miles. No one is sure why it was so called but the theory the bus driver had was that the farmers used to move their cattle from the top end of the beach to the bottom end of the beach. This would take 3 days, and on average cattle could travel 30 miles in a day before needing to be rested, therefore 90 miles in total. However,the farmers did not take into account the slower pace of the cattle walking in the sand, thus thinking they had travelled 90 miles when in fact they had only travelled 55 miles.

We headed up the beach, and halfway up we stopped at the Bluff, the only rocks on the beach. Following a detour up the small dunes to look for wild horses, we then headed up the Te Paki stream and parked up to do some sandboarding down the huge sand dunes. We only managed a couple of runs down as it was quite tiring walking to the top of the dune. However, the ride down was exhilarating, but just remember to keep your mouth closed otherwise you end up with lots of sand in your teeth!

We then headed up to Cape Reinga. The main road SH1, which is the road that goes from Wellington to Auckland and then north of Auckland, turns into nothing better than a shingle track. Apparently it is getting upgraded, but at the moment, it's a bit of a mess.

Cape Reinga is the northwesternmost tip of the Aupouri Peninsula, at the northern end of the North Island of New Zealand. Māori belief is that the cape is the point where the spirits of the dead enter the underworld. Cape Reinga is generally considered the separation marker between the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. From the lighthouse it is possible to watch the tidal race, as the two seas clash to create unsettled waters just off the coast.

On the way back from Cape Reinga, we headed back down the beach and after a lunch stop, we headed back to Awanui Ancient Kauri Kingdom, to grab a coffee, whilst the bus was being cleaned. Another 45 mins drive later and we were in Mangonui to stop at the famous Mangonui Fish & Chip Shop - the best fish & chips in the area. I would have to agree that it was delicious, especially the fish.

After that it was an hour's drive back to Paihia and the end of the tour, It was a long day, having been on the bus for 11hrs but it was a worthwhile excursion. It would have been nice to have had longer at the Cape but apart from that, I recommend taking this tour, as it is smaller than the other tour operators such as Kings/Fullers etc and even our hotel guide said that Dunerider was the best.
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