The highlight and the original reason for my stay in the Far North was the road trip up to Cape Reinga. The beauty of this trip, that I did it in 17 hours, alone (loved it), and driving a borrowed car.
Probably I am the only person who’s not deeply interested in the amazing nature of New Zealand. Don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful, and pretty sure the case would be different if I wasn’t alone or at a different time, but now the only thing I was up for: beaches and sunset (last time I saw it in Bali in August, so it was for me a must-have).
Let me share my route (with travel map), I think everyone can make and enjoy it to the fullest:
Sunrise in Matauri Bay
I left Kerikeri at 5:30 am and arrived just in time for the first sunbeams above the bay. Driving in the dawn is pretty stressful as the roads are full of bunnies, ducks, possums, literally with every kind of animal and of course, I don’t want to hit any of them.
The bay was a perfect choice for sunrise, I enjoyed my second morning coffee on the empty beach with this view:
The morning mist and the colours in this sunlight are just amazing. The only problem that on the winding roads there’s no spot to safely stop and enjoy the view for a few minutes.
Breakfast by the Coca Cola (Rotopokaka) lake
This lake is really cool. The water was nice and warm, the colour is crazy, it doesn’t smell (just like any other lake) and I was all alone around 7 am. With my favourite tracks playing in the car, walking (sorry, not swimming) in the lake, then a sandwich on the bench.. did I miss anything?
I also checked out the Doubtless Bay, but it was busy with campers and smelled strong (from that the ocean washed out, or from what goes into it), so after taking a picture I left to the Karikari Moana, exactly to the Puheke beach.. and oooh my god.
Who said that New Zealand doesn’t have white beaches? Look at this:
Pure perfection (except the super cold water) and it has a secret beach too: one of the most perfect places I’ve ever been, a real hidden gem.
People came around 11 am, so before the sun started burning crazy (missing ozone is not fun) I left.
I have to say New Zealand has a nice diversity in beaches, that was a bit unexpected but I like it more than the same-same looking ones. Also, there’s nothing that wants to kill you while you enjoy the sand and the sea (at least here in the North), so beaching is more relaxing than in Aussieland (Australia – New Zealand 1:2)
Dessert for lunch in Te Kao
As it’s on the way, impossible to miss it and simply just why not, I stopped by the famous local store for ice cream. This is the small portion:
The taste was really good (this one the kiwi pavlova) and hey, it’s only $3.
One important thing to mention: don’t even think about to get a 2degrees sim card in New Zealand. I don’t recall why did I buy this one, but around the Karikari peninsula it decided that I’m abroad and switched to roaming, then around Te Kao every time I wanted to change from airplane mode a phone error appeared. I was thinking that awesome, my phone is dying.. until I arrived back from the very far north and the service worked normal again. So if you don’t want to stay without reception and data and GPS (always download offline maps!), do not choose 2degrees.
Sunburnt in the Spirits Bay
If I was a spirit, I definitely would live here. Amazing. Despite the campsite next to it, the beach is huge and empty. White sand, super clear azure water, powerful waves.. and no shade, so my 50+ sunblock didn’t help anything at 2 pm (for now my skin is nicely tanned, but for an afternoon it was red as hell).
I also enjoyed the way down to the bay: the white gravel, the curvy road and the dust behind the car are screaming for drifting. So I did. And loved it.
The bay has, of course, something else to do with spirits and this is a really intriguing part of the story. I was not prepared in history and culture, but the more I hear and read about it now, the essence and beauty of these stories just catch me.
The final destination: Cape Reinga
I arrived at the cape around 4 pm, that meant it was pretty quiet (tourist peak is before noon). It’s a beautiful spot, well organized, the view all around is amazing, I also loved the small information notes on the side of the walkway, but the very best thing is the meeting point of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. This was the first time I’ve seen something like this and it’s truly mesmerizing. So if I was a spirit, I would love to fly through this cape. The atmosphere is very calming and truly magical.
Slow drivers break at Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes
Okay, so the order on the way was: sheep, cows, bush, f*cking lots of sand. I was not up for sandboarding (mainly because my burned skin didn’t feel the scratchy sand, but also because this activity is more fun in a group), so I just stopped by, tried to figure out how the hell got here this much sand, then “enjoyed” the ride behind too slow drivers. I was not in a hurry, but guys.. please.
Sunset on the Ninety Mile Beach
First I hit the beach at Te Kao: the wide shore and the circles in the sand looked pretty cool. Unfortunately, the wind blew extremely strong, it was simply not enjoyable to sit there, also I still had like an hour till sunset, so decided to change location.
My last cigarette at Waipapakauri
I arrived at my second spot also much more before the real sunset time, so I smoked my very last cigarette by the car, listening – wait for it – to the radio and gosh, it was just perfect. It was windy on the beach but the parking place was protected, so just enjoyed the sunshine and the smoke. The fun part is the radio. I don’t remember when I last listened intentionally to a radio station, but my mobile was out of its senses so haven’t got any other option. The More FM was basically the only acceptable one, and on that day somehow it gave a nice mainstream vibe.
When the time had come I walked with a few others to the beach to watch the sun go down. I really appreciated this time, as I really missed it and the view gave me exactly what I wished for.
The one hour drive back home was easy under the starry sky and the Cheshire Moon. I arrived back at 10:30 pm and would say it was a perfect day: not too exhausting, I got everything that I wanted and needed, also have a current favourite song too: