New Zealand has 11,000 kilometers of coastline, and we have now walked along 1% of it. We have walked 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of NZ and start of the Te Araroa, to Ahipara. Almost all of that was on the beach, including 90-mile beach, which is not actually 90 miles, despite the name. When Captain Cook sailed by 90-mile beach, he opted not to stop, calling it a desert. I would like to challenge Cook’s impression and argue there is more to 90-mile beach than sand. But you’ll just have to read ahead to find out.
The tour also includes the use of their boards to go sand boarding, something neither of us have ever done. It was a nice bit of excitement racing down the sand dunes while lying on a boogie board.
Around noon, we arrived at Cape Reinga, where the Tasmen Sea collides with the Pacific Ocean. The native Maori people of New Zealand believe Cape Reinga is the jumping off point for souls upon death. The power of this spot with its dramatic cliffs dropping to the wild seas was pretty breathtaking.
We took obligatory pictures and video at the lighthouse (no longer in operation since the 80s) and the sign post that tells you Bluff (our ending point) is only 1400 kilometers away as the crow flies. By foot on the TA, it is 3000 K away!
Right when we dropped down to the beach, we experienced the trickiness and danger of high tide. We had to scramble over slick rocks while the ocean threatens to sweep you away! This high tide section is inevitable when you get a ride to the trailhead with the tour companies because of the time you arrive.
After we survived our first encounter with high tide, we weaved on and off some bluffs and desert areas, doing just 6.6 miles that first day. We camped at Twilight Beach and feasted on chicken noodle bowl for Thanksgiving dinner.
We are now resupplying in Kaitaia (remember the pronounciation – Ki – long I – tie – a), will stay at the Main Street Lodge again and hitch back to the trailhead in Ahipara. Oh, funny story about hitching. When we hitched to Kaitaia today, a police officer picked us up!