NZ day 24- Wednesday
Well here we are- a bright & early start to the day which is no mean feat after a menopausal night. We had the alarm set for 7am (bugger me, we are on holidays) so that we would be showered & ready for our 8-30 collection for the Cape Reinga tour. Given my menopausal night & the fact that it was 17 degrees overnight.....doesn’t assist hot flushes I can assure you.....I felt like a wet toe rag when the alarm went off....the first bit of sleep I’d had foe a wee while. Anyway a lovely Maori gentleman collected us at the appointed time & then we set off to collect the rest of the straggly mob....they were worse than sheep! Dead set- we collected a group of 5 Germans.............well they were very rude & ignorant. We pulled up at the collection point & they dilly-dallied for some time- finishing off their cigarettes, getting their shit together, bla bla bla.....& then they managed to get on the bus. Stone the bloody crows- it didn’t get better....the next couple (well one was lost for a wee while) took some time getting on as well.....which didn’t endear them to the
Anyway, once we were all on board, he gave us a Maori welcome (not that we could understand a word of it)...........then, surprise, surprise, we went into a tradtional Maori meeting house & had a traditional Maori welcome.......apart from frightening the shit out od you, it was very good. Initially we had to elect a tribal chief (a guy from Germany), then waited for the sound of the welcoming horns (noises from shells etc to say come on in). Then the local chief came out (not a pretty picture I can tell you), who had a bit to say (sorry, my interpretation has gone amiss)...he was challenging our chief.....he laid down an ‘leaf’ which our chief had to pick up...so that was all good. Then into their meeting hut with beautiful carvings etc. They did a traditional welcoming ceremony (a Huka I think)....which scared the shit out of you.......then our Chief had to respond & we were all good mates!!!!!!!!!!! A photo opportunity prevailed & then off to our next spot. Not to underestimate this event- it was very moving/spiritual & great to see a culture valued instead of hidden/shamed.
So we off to a wee little shop &
then northward to the 90 mile beach. This beach is amazing.....hmmm I’ve used that word before, but I don’t know what else to say. You can drive in a 2wd on the beach....the buses drive on there. The sand is very firm & you just have to dodge a culvert now & then. It goes for 90 mile (now I wonder where they get the name from?). In summer there can be up to 20 buses driving the beach (where the normal road rules apply).....bugger that- it was bad enough with 4 bus tours today. They have it all worked out, so that you arrive at certain destinations at different times etc etc. Depending on the tides, they have 6 days going up the 90 mile beach & down the inland road & 6 going up the inland road & down the 90 mile beach. Today we were racing the high tide.....got up to 90 plus kph on the beach, before we headed inland. Dead set- you have to see the photos. We were travelling up the ‘road’/stream.......it was a fresh water stream....no road about it......then we came to some sandhills.
Hang on- I forgot to tell you something (&
I know you all wish to be educated).....This entire area is sand....sand & more sand....but wait there’s more....sand...anyway, in order to stop the sand dunes from engulfing everything, they built 3 different levels of brush fence. This enabled the sand to build up against it, forming a sandhill/windbreak to prevent further movement. Behind this, they started planting a pine forest (by hand thankyou). This forest has a contract that ensures that once the trees are felled, they must be replaced. We are talking about a substantial area here.....that neither of us can remember.....but many thousands of acres.
So- back to the beach. There are people long lining......this means that they use a kite to take their lines out to sea (you need a NE blowing). These lines have 23 hooks attached and after some time they retrieve the line & hopefully 23 fish! Unbelievable! They are also able to use a ‘torpedo’ to take the hooks out to the area that they require. They also fish for Mussel ‘spat’. This is the mussel in its early days which are harvested here (some by hand, some by tractor) & then the ‘spat’ are transported to mussel farms where they are ‘grown
out’. The spat from the north west is valued over others as most is green lipped mussel, not blue lipped (not as cold maybe??😞 ).
So, on we went. Then we headed into what looked like a little stream.....well it was a little stream....no roads require here!! Stone the bloody crows! Again you’ll have to look at the photos. We went inland to some huge sandhills that have been left in their natural state so that us visitors get to see what the land was really like. The entire northern peninsula was sand....& more sand....yep you’ve got it....more sand. We could learn from them re what grasses to grow on sand.
On to Spirits Bay I think. Bloody hell- I wouldn’t take the mh onto this road, but he took a bus!! Flip me....the corners were VERY tight & the road somewhat steep, but hey- we were the biggest, & the rest could please themselves! We had our lunch provided at this lovely little bay...where the wind was a howling NE’ley..............but, for the second time, we saw a pheasant........a male with gorgeous colours. I had to stalk him to get photos.....it is currently in the hunting season these guys are
fair game....no wonder they are a bit skittish!! Had sen one yesterday, but the shock was so great, he was gone before the photographer could get a shot in....not me😉....
After lunch we headed up to Cape Reinga. Windy.....shit was it windy.......there was an Asian girl in our group- how she didn’t get blown back to Aust is a bit beyond me....flip it was windy- even I had to lean into the wind! But, we came, we saw, we conquered!!! Are we hero’s or what......in our own lunch box......but we got our obligatory photos....where the Tasman Sea meets the Atlantic...........not the finest day for photography, but we did get some photos. And nearly got blown back to Aust for our troubles.
All in all, it was a great day, regardless of the weather. The Maori influence was fantastic....did I tell you that they driver sang us 3 Maori songs- fantastic.....since when have you been serenaded on a coach tour eh??? Saw some fabulous furniture.....the lounge was $55,000......yep you read correctly....I think I might have a couple!!!
We stopped & saw a couple of other highlights- golden sand....just like home....woohooo......etc. The poor coach driver had had a gut full of the
Germans by the time we dropped them off.....if he said we had 5 minutes, they didn’t come back til 10.......if he said don’t go off the red path, they climbed the other path......if he said be ready once I have washed the bus in 15 min, they waited until he was ready & then went into the shop!!!!! GGrrrrrrrr....didn’t impress us either.....ohhh did I say they were the onl smokers &, surprise surprise, bought their own alcohol on board. Disappointing......no respect for anyone else.
But, we had a great day for $60 each & thanked our driver profusely- he was fantastic & answered any questions we had as we went along our way (ye we sat at the VERY front so we didn’t get sick!).
So if you get a chance- do this tour & learn some local history at the same time- GOLD!
Time to sign off- love to all, Ray & Terri. Tomorrow?????? Maybe Bay of Islands
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