This past weekend Katie and I rented a car in order to explore the Northland. We shipped out bright and early on Saturday morning and booked it for Paihia and the Bay of Islands. It was pretty much non stop (except for a stop at a small cheese shop on the side of the road). It was raining on and off all day, but the sun finally came out once we got to Paihia. We booked a trip for the following morning. It was an all day ?adventure? tour bus for backpackers to drive up to Cape Reinga and back to Paihia along Ninty Mile Beach. We got a student rate on top of the off-season discount. Only cost us 85 NZ$ for a 12 hour trip. After booking it, we walked around the beach town for a few hours, stopping to get ice-cream and pizza. It started to rain again, so we hopped back in the car and explored the neighbouring towns until dusk. We then booked a quiet hostel, and made some quesadillas before bed.
We woke up and got our free breakfast at the hostel. We drove back into town to the meet the bus at 7:00 am. There was probably a total of 15 people on the bus all under 30. Coming up in the off season was a GREAT idea! Our first stop was in a forest preserve to see some Kauri Trees. Kauri Trees are the NZ equivalent to Giant Sequoias and Redwoods. Next, we stopped at Doubtless Bay for afternoon tea and brunch. After loading up on some food and water, we made the long off road drive up to the north most point of NZ to Cape Reinga. We walked around a bit and explored, the lighthouse and the surrounding area. Luckily, it was clear weather and we could see the water of the Pacific Ocean meeting the water of the Tasman Sea.
Our next destination was about 20 min south to a beach for lunch before our Sand Surfing hoopla! We hopped back on the bus after lunch and drove off the road around Te Paki and down a stream. We eventually came to the base of giant sand dunes. The driver opened up the bottom of the bus, as we picked out boards. The boards looked like boogie boards, but with hard plastic bases. Sand Surfing is pretty much boogie boarding down huge sand dunes. It was exactly what I expected and a blast. We hiked up a huge dune and took turns flying down head first and landing in the stream at high speeds. I think we spent a little over an hour playing around, getting sandy, wet, and bruised. Everyone was sandy and soaked.
After everyone’s half assed attempt to get cleaned up, we drove down to Ninty Mile Beach. It’s almost exactly what it sounds like. It’s only really like 60 miles, but who’s counting. It’s actually considered a NZ highway. We drove down the beach all the way down to Awanui, then back onto the road for a dinner stop. We got back to Paihia at about 6:30, just as it was getting dark. Good day. On the way home, we stopped in Kawakawa to see the famous Hundertwasser toilet. It’s a basic, artistic and famous toilet designed by a famous architect.