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New Zealand – Cape Reinga – 12th/13th November

We left fairly early and started on our drive to to top of North Island. We had to make a few stops along the way, it’s always recommended; fuel, food and water! At Katai we found all 3 and there was even a Pak’n'Save! It’s not exactly Aldi but it is cheaper than any other super-markets around and they stock pretty much everything you need for your home – or in our instance the van!

It was a further 3 hours drive north to Cape Reinga but we didn’t go to the top, instead we went to the DOC campsite at Tapotupoto Bay. It’s off the main road and pretty much gravel all 8km’s to the bottom, always take it slow with Po! When we got to the campground it was very windy and a little wet, but it wouldn’t be Cape Reinga without blustery winds, it is after all at the top of New Zealand and there isn’t much up there to shelter you! We found a spot on the campground that was a little baron but we did have some shelter from a  tree at least. As the evening came more and more people turned up to camp. We hiked from the campground heading towards Spirits Bay, but only managed a 2 hour return hike, mainly as it was getting late and the hills were so steep!

Back down at the campsite we sat in our van and listened to the wind around us, it was a pretty quiet evening. We’re grateful to have the van to shelter in on nights like that.

The following morning we prepared for our hike to the Cape Reinga lighthouse which is predicted to be a 2.5 hour journey from Tapotupoto Bay. With pack lunches and after a cold shower (not as bad as it sounds!) we ventured up the steep hills again. It actually took us 1.45 to get there with 2 very steep sections and further steep downhill paths that we would be returning along. It’s a pleasant walk though with a dip down to Stony Bay before heading back up again. We did think about Nicky and Cooky quite a bit when we were hiking as this would have been the last part of their 5 month hike from South to North and wow was it a tough one to end on. Amazing to read their blog and to now be hiking the same paths.

The Cape Reinga lighthouse is in an area called Te Rerega-Wairua a Maouri spiritual area; a place where souls jump off for their journey to their spiritual homeland, no-one is allowed to go to that point but we looked out across to the pohukutawa tree and where the Tasman and Pacific Oceans meet. It’s a wild place with high sand-dunes behind us and arrows above pointing to distances across the world. With half an hour or so at the top followed by the gruelling hike back to the van we ended up taking just over 3 hours in total, so we were please with that and it also meant we had time to get back down the coast again.

Later on after the drive back down Northland we ended up at Raetea Forest DOC campground via a quick non-inspiring stop at the 90 mile beach! This particular campsite is one of their free basic grounds heading towards the Kauri coast. It’s actually a really nice spot in a forest area and we had a few neighbours to keep us company too. Food was a real camping affair; Dave had sausages, tinned spaghetti and mushrooms.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f/2.0, Leica 90mm f/2.8, Zeiss 18mm f/4 ZM processed in Lightroom 3)

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