The Battle of the Seas – Wednesday 25th January 2012


Today we intend to reach Cape Reinga, the Northern tip of New Zealand. In fact there is a point slightly further North but impossible to reach. Then we return South to Doubtless Bay. We know it will be a longish drive, 360 km, so we set off reasonably early.
Our first stop is the toilet! No ordinary toilets these, they are on the tourist route map! The Hundertwasser at Kawakawa have a zebra crossing directly opposite them, because in New Zealand you can only park on the side of the road that is the same direction you are traveling (I.e. the left!) these toilets are bold and bright, designed as an Eco project, using reclaimed tiles, bricks, ceramics and bottles for the windows. Ceramic columns of a similar design echo throughout the town. Simple, clean and roomy, the colourful toilets are brilliant.

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We take the inland route which leads up through Mongatore Gorge and forest on a switchback of a road. The bends go on forever, swooping along with amazing camber to support a safe drive.
Once past Kaitaia, the road begins to straighten out in preparation for the final miles down the long thin finger of land, which is Northland.

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At Cape Reigna, by the lighthouse, a tremendous battle never ceases between the Tasmin Sea and the Pacific. It’s incredibly bizarre to watch opposing waves crash against each other at right angles to the headland.
This magical place is where spirits leave, according to Maori legend. Having walked a while to marvel at nature, we retrace our steps to see the sand dunes.

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Te Paki stream runs beside the largest sand dunes in NZ, maybe the world! In typical Kiwi fashion, the sport here is to sand board down the dune. Coach loads come to do just this but the size of the dunes swamps them, so they appear as ants sliding down, or staggering up.

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We walk the river bed to the sea. At times we hurry to the side to avoid being splashed by 4WD that travel the same path. It’s possible to drive along 90mile beach at low tide. I am told it is actually only 60 miles long but still. You have to drive fast to avoid sinking into the sand which can be very soft in places.
We are happy to walk along to the sea’s edge before returning the length of the stream. The size of these dunes is sim ply mind blowing.

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I’m pleased to have my hat, as the sun is in readily hot today and my lips still sore from the sea yesterday.
From here we share the driving to Doubtless Bay. Apparently Captain Cook had spent several weeks in the Bay of Islands and when he passed this bay he felt he could no longer take time to fully explore it – doubtless it was a bay!
We are the only guests staying at Taipa Sands Motel. W have a huge room with a lovely patio which heads directly tot he beach. Our first mission is find a supermarket and cook food.
We sleep well and late.

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