Auckland - Cape Reinga

Trip Start Aug 09, 2005
Trip End Aug 09, 2006

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Friday, December 9, 2005

We left Auckland Monday evening and started our journey North in our campervan (for those smartarses in Ireland... no it was not a hi-ace). Nice and roomy four wheel drive and didn't cry "Rob us we're tourists" on the outside, like many of the rental campervan do with the company logos painted all over them. Over the next 10 days, we drove many kilometers around the north Island. We drove up the east coast through many strangely pronounced towns. At numerous times the scenery reminded us a lot of Ireland, very green, rolling hills and rain!! Each night we stopped off at a different campsite and thanks to some nice Kiwi's that we met in South America we were armed with the knowledge of places to visit and about DOC campsites (Department of Conservation) which are situated in very beautiful and remote locations... and very inexpensive to stay in (Thanks Mark, Rachael, Chriss, and Paul). As the van was not equipped with a stove and cooking utensils we had to buy a portable stove, cooler box, pots, pans, plates, etc. to get us through the next 4 weeks. We found a cheap discount store where we procured the necessary goods.

Our second night out we camped at the DOC site at Whangaruru North, in a secluded bay. The next morning while eating breakfast we were joined just offshore by a pod of dolphins, who swam and played about only meters away from us as we sat and drank our morning tea. After breakfast we drove to an ancient buried Kauri forest in Waiharara. Kauri Forests are very few now and are a protected tree which is only found in Northern New Zealand. This ancient forest is just a small pocket of the original forest which has been preserved for tens of thousands of years underground by the chemicals and peat swamps of Northland. When a Kauri tree is damaged it produces great amounts of resinous sap which covers the wound and protects the inner timber. The sap congeals into hard lumps and falls to the ground where it is eventually covered by forest litter. After thousands of years the sap hardens into fossilized Kauri (known as New Zealand Amber). In the 19th Century the gum became prized as an ingredient for high quality varnishes. The surface gum was first collected then the Gum diggers started to dig down and found the ancient forests where they found whole trees preserved from which they then extracted sap. The industry became a booming export trade that began in the 1870 and ended after the 1st world war.

Continuing north, many green fields later (filled with cows and millions of sheep) and driving through very temperamental weather fluctuations we had almost reached the northern tip of the island, Cape Reinga. On our drive to the cape we came upon the giant sand dunes at Te Paki. These sand dunes are whipped up to a height of 100 metres and pushed 5 kilometres inland by the powerful westerly winds that blow in off the Tasman Sea. Trish couldn't let the moment pass without rolling down one of the smaller dunes, a sight to be seen that is on video if anyone is interested!!

Later that day we drove on to cape Reinga where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. As we climbed higher towards the tip of the Cape a heavy mist rolled in fast, so there was nothing to see from the lookout point at the lighthouse. The lighthouse itself was barely visible from the top of the pathway which led to it. But we walked to the lighthouse and did see where the two seas meet, their waves rolling and crashing against each other. That night we stayed at another DOC site where we spent a good half hour "swatting" mosquitoes before nodding off to sleep. The next morning we woke to find we had only killed half the buggers, though we had escaped been bitten very badly (Oddly enough Trish didn't have too many bites).We spent another half hour swatting more mossies to death before we skipped dodge out of the mosquito infested campsite without even having our morning cuppa!!
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