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Published: March 4th 2012
90 Mile Beach
The beach 90k/hr speed limit
Trampers 5(including Margaret) are planning a road trip to Cape Reinga, the northern tip of the North Island. Margaret arranged a guided bus trip. To begin the trip, we drove from Margaret’s house in Manganoui to Kauri Kingdom, a tourist depot in Awanui. There we met our driver, Senny, a native Maori, with Sand Safaris. Senny had a great sense of humor. Gifted with a singing voice, he serenaded us with Maori songs as we drove along. We hadn’t driven far when Senny announced we would be leaving the state highway, and taking the beach road, known as 90 Mile Beach. (Note: this beach is actually ONLY 60 miles long but the Kiwis have a THINK BIG psyche …… little brother syndrome in the shadow of the Australians). Motor vehicles are allowed to drive on the wide sand beach during low tide. It is a designated highway with all the rules of the road. A plethora of wind / surf / sand mobile sporting activities are available.
A world-class fishing derby was in full stride as we motored along the Tasman Sea side beach. Some 1000 fishermen from around the world take part in
this annual event. Along the way we came to a place with very high sand dunes. It is the one spot along the beach, where people are allowed on the dunes. At this spot, Senny stopped the bus and sleds were issued, the idea being to climb the dune (3 steps up, 2steps down.) then slide down. Skills levels varied enormously, but everybody had a good time including the non-thrill seeking observers.
At Cape Reinga, we walked the final quarter of a mile down a path to the Cape Reinga lighthouse. Along the path there were markers that told the Maori beliefs. One belief is that the dead spirits depart from Cape Reinga for their homeland, the mythical Hawaiika (near Hawaii) from where they paddled their large canoes (wakas) around 800AD in search of the Land of the Long White Cloud (New Zealand or Aotearoa). The soul descends through the trunk of a lone Pohutukawa tree located at the very tip of the cape into the waters of the converging Tasman Sea / Pacific Ocean to begin the long journey back ‘home’. This is a very sacred Maori place where strong Maori traditions prevail such
90 Mile Beach
Hole in the rock
as no food and a contemplative aura.
On our way home we stopped at another beach, Rawarawa Beach, a beautiful white silica sand beach mined until 1990 to provide a crucial element in the manufacture of glass. Environmental rulings have quashed this economically profitable process.
As we neared Mangonui, Margaret directed us to a Maori fortification known as a ‘pa’. We climbed the Pa to the top. From this vantage point we had a magnificent panoramic view of Doubtless Bay, Coopers Beach, and the inner Harbour, points close to Margaret and Graeme’s home.
For dinner we had salmon smoked with Manuka tree (tea tree) wood chips. (Note: This tree is also the source of the acclaimed Manuka honey). The taste is unique to New Zealand. The salmon had been prepared by Chef Hugh with apprentice John’s assistance and brought from Auckland.
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