Top of the North Island

A month or so ago I accepted a job back in Wellington. With the realisation that visiting Cape Reinga in the top of the North Island would be much harder to do from the other end of it, travelling there during my final weeks living in Auckland became a priority.

I convinced Mike to come on a roadie and we drove all the way to Kaitaia from Auckland late on a Friday evening.

After a quick breakfast and refuel in Kaitaia the next morning following the helpful advice from a lovely lady at the information centre, we took off north, stopping first at 90 Mile Beach. It was sensibly decided the car would most likely get stuck were we to drive onto the beach and we didn’t attempt it.

90 Mile Beach

We kept driving and hit the end of the country within a couple of hours.

I’d incorrectly assumed you could drive all the way up to the famous lighthouse. This is not the case- there is a short, windy walk down from the car park to the lighthouse and sign where you can see the meeting of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. We did this in less than sensible footwear.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse View

Cape Reinga Lighthouse


And so another item on my 30 Before 30 list was crossed off!

Heading back, we’d planned to hire boards from the camp ground near Te Paki and surf the sand dunes. In reality the camp ground was for sale and abandoned (perhaps something the information centre should have been aware of?), and an open shed door gave me the horror movie creeps.

So the giant sand dunes (big climbs not out of place in The Warrior’s training runs, and the sea nowhere to be seen?!) were experienced in the form of crazy jumps, slides and flips rather than sand surfing.
Giant Sand Dunes New Zealand
Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes

Amusingly on our trip north we kept running into the same people at each stop (aka the couple with the kid, the girls with the rental car called Henry and the Asian tourists who looked like hikers). It created a sense of community and provided opportunities to play photographer for each other.

So glad I got to do this trip, and it only took us 24 hours in the end to get to Cape Reinga and back from Auckland – a far cry from the three days anticipated. There is little to see between landmarks on this drive so we were home in time for the second half of the All Blacks Test against France.