Cape Reinga… Where the road literally ends. The very northern tip of the North Island. Where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet.
This was an amazing trip. We only had 2 days to do it, unfortunately. 8 hours there, and 8 hours back… Plus lots of stopping. So, it was VERY jam packed.
We stopped at 90 Mile beach first. We were thinking it was a beach you HAD to drive on in order to continue on to Cape Reinga. At least that’s what everyone made it out to be, but it’s not at all. It’s actually quite out of the way. You drive about 25 minutes to get here, and numerous signs advice you not to drive on the beach (for obvious reasons). So, we parked the car and walked on the beach. We took some pictures and watched a tour bus drive across the beach, along with numerous other cars (with 4-wheel drive I’m sure). It was pretty awesome. I really wanted to do it, but it didn’t seem like a good idea in a rental car.
About an hour before sunset, we found the camp ground that I had researched beforehand. It had no pictures, so I had no idea what to expect. Considering we drove on a dirt road for 20 minutes to get here, I was thinking it was going to be a sketchy place, BUT, it was the most beautiful campground we have been to thus far. Once you arrived: on your right side was the beautiful crisp blue ocean, and to the left, complete jungle fever. It was awesome. This was a $6 camp ground, which of course is always out of the way, but this one was well worth it. We set up our new tent on a grassy area overlooking the ocean. AMAZING. We decided to go for a swim before heading to Cape Reinga Lighthouse. As we were walking in the water, we both saw a dark shadow in the water. Patrick was convinced it was a rock, so I walked in further. Less than 2 feet away from me, I see 2 giant sting rays. I almost shat myself. I RAN out of the water. I’m not a fan of sea life, especially considering we don’t have health insurance, so I always picture worse case scenarios. So much for an evening swim. Haha!
We drove to the lighthouse, where the road just stops. Once you park your car, you walk for about 20 minutes. Total tourist trap! Tons of people were here! It was well worth the drive though. This was the first REAL lighthouse I’ve been to. I was so excited about it. As we were watching the sunset, we overhead a Japanese person skyping someone back in Japan. They were saying goodnight and good morning, because as the sun set here, it was rising in Japan. It was pretty incredible.
Camping one night there, was such a tease. We both did not want to leave. We packed up the next morning, went for a morning swim (more like I jumped in and ran out) then headed to the Sand dunes.
Another tourist trap! They had a place to rent boogie boards to ride down the sand dunes, but we didn’t want to do that. Instead, we hiked to the top away from all of the people, and took some photos. It felt like we were on an African Safari. It was SO incredible up there! After a couple of hours here, we started heading back home.
We stopped at 90 Mile Beach again, because we BOTH really wanted to drive on the beach. Really stupid decision. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. If you slow down, you get stuck. You have to keep to a minimum of 60 kph, which isn’t that fast, but it felt really fast. It was exhilarating driving along side the water, but also terrifying. I couldn’t pull over to let Patrick drive because we probably wouldn’t get the car going again. He was NOT enjoying this experience. I was in a little “high”, and he was SUPER agro! I found a place to finally turn around, and I headed back where we came. The tires kept catching and I seriously thought at any moment we would be stuck. My entire body was tense and nervous. I’ve never felt so much relief as I did when we finally made it off the sand. 20 minutes doesn’t seem that long, but when you’re not sure if you’ll get out or not, it feels like forever! I definitely will never do that again unless we have 4-wheel drive!
Although the 8 hour drive up there, truly feels like forever, it was AMAZING. We definitely plan on coming back up here and camping at the same camp ground. Definitely longer than ONE night! 🙂