Our transport for the day was a specially constructed coach that would allow us to drive along the so-called Ninety Mile Beach, which is only 55 miles long. It is not a beach for water sports as it is too dangerous but we met other coaches making the same journey along the sand. Apart from them and a few gulls on the lookout for fish and shellfish, it was deserted. Towards the northern end is an area known as Te Paki, a recreation reserve with quicksand streams and dunes. Here we were offered the chance to go sand boarding. Needless to say, I declined.
Cape Reinga – The Lighthouse Area
We then drove to Cape Reinga, in the far north of the North Island. Here the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. It was quite a steep climb down to the lighthouse but well worth the effort for the views.
Cape Reinga – Taputaputa Bay
Our day excursion to Cape Reinga also included a packed lunch, which we ate at Taputaputa Bay, part of the Te Paki reserve. There we saw Manuka trees. The bush is also known as the Tea Tree as Captain Cook used it as a tea substitute for his sailors. The oil from the tree is much prized as is the honey produced by the bees from its tiny white flowers.
Cape Reinga – Gumdiggers Park
Our last stop was at the Gum Diggers Park, where our Maori guide met us. He gave us an interesting insight into the life of gum diggers in the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. It was hard, backbreaking work using only primitive tools. The gum could be buried up to 5 metres deep. They located the gum by prodding with a gum spear.