Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Top of New Zealand

Cape Reinga/Ninety Mile Beach Tour

Today was a milestone for us. We took a bus tour to Cape Reinga, the (almost) northernmost point in New Zealand. This is the one place that has been on every itinerary we’ve planned. The view from the lighthouse was spectacular, one of the most impressive I’ve seen. The wind added to the wild nature of the setting where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. Aside from the significance of the location, Cape Reinga has spiritual importance to the Maoris. They believe that when a person dies, their spirit departs the earth from “Te Rerenga-Wairua”.
After lunch at a scenic bay, the bus headed back by way of Ninety Mile Beach. Talk about crazy, the bus did 63 kilometers on the hard-packed sand at about 90 kilometers per hour. They drive the same wherever they go – FAST. The tour buses travel together in groups of two and take care when crossing freshwater streams. They also avoid the two hours on either side of high tide. Apparently, some vehicles have gotten stuck and been swallowed by the sand in the past.
The beach itself is quite pristine. On our right we had the Tasman Sea and on our left we had the Aupouri Forest. At 75 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide, this area is the second largest man made forest in New Zealand. In addition to establishing the forest, the Department of Conservation also enhanced the dunes protecting the beach as well as a buffer zone in between. It seemed a bit surreal to be viewing the entire landscape from a gas powered bus.

1 comment:

JennSean said...

I can only imagine...it sounds amazing! Congratulations!!