Day 10 to Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga Travel Blog

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Cape Reinga Lighthouse

Today started out being one of those days. I got to thinking last night that I’m a little pressed for time. That extra day at GBI took my day at Tiritiri Matangi ��" the birder’s place to go ��" and I had to move it to the day before I go home. Thing is, that requires me to stay in the Auckland area for my last two nights. Yuk. When I first looked at this trip, I thought I’d do Northland, East Cape, Rotorua, maybe even down to Wellington. Not a chance. I don’t think I’ll even get out of Northland. Not that I’m complaining. The only complaint I have is that I’m having to bypass places I’d like to go and I have to hurry through the places I do stop.

So back to my day. I decide I need to dump the grey water ��" always a fun chore.  I get all done with that, go to back out and thump a knee high post with the camper. Oops. Didn’t hurt anything, always embarrassing! So I now feel like I need to make it to the lighthouse and back today. I leave before 8 am, just after sunrise.  Something in the roads is attracting all the finch and sparrowlike birds, maybe a mineral or maybe just the warmth. But there are hundreds of little birds flushing as I drive. Unfortunately they are flying erratically and I whack a couple. Oops. Couldn’t even identify one as it hit the windshield. So on I go. I thought I was taking the coastal road but the GPS took me through the middle of the island instead. Oh well, no big deal. I stop at a nice little picnic area and turn down the drive. Just around a curve, there’s a tree down across the road. Now I have to back up the drive. But I get the tires on the grass/mud and they won’t move anywhere. Oops. I eventually get all 4 tires on the drive again and back out successfully. By now I’m thinking maybe I should just park it for the day and try again tomorrow. But no, my flight home is pressuring me!  At this point, I think my day got better, or at least neutralized to not a bad day.

I have 220 kms to go to Cape Reinga. It takes me until 3 pm. That’s 7 hours.  Of course I can’t go straight there. I make a few stops and detours. Instead of taking SH 10, I’m on SH 1 before I realize it. It goes through Raetea Forest and Mangamuka Gorge. Lovely drive, watch for the double semis coming at you on the twisting, turning two lane road! I head up the Far North peninsula and I stop at Lake Ngutu where I see a couple new grebes. The second turnoff I make is to Lake Waiparera. This one has Black Swans and lots of Canada Geese. I go down to Houhora Heads, another lovely place to stay but alas, I press on. Another detour takes me to Paua and Parengarenga Harbor. I chat with a fisherman on the dock. No one else around. He’s been there for a few weeks, camping out in his van, tucking up into an old building with aspestos warnings all over it when it gets cold at night. I guess my luck is good with the weather since he said it had been stormy for the last two days. He also told me he saw a couple hundred Spoonbills, a bird I had yet to see, roosting that morning. Nowhere to be found at the moment. An inadvertent detour takes me to Te Hapua. I had meant to take a short road to a forest but missed it and turned down towards Te Hapua. Turned into an hour or so detour but low and behold, when I got to the end of the road, there were a couple hundred Spoonbills. I turned down the road to Spirit Bay on the way to the main road and then was finally on my last leg to the lighthouse. No more detours I swore, until the sign that said Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes. It was only 3 kms so how could I pass them up. And yep, there they were, giant piles of sand, the start (or end?) of 90-mile Beach, which is really only about 60 miles long. Another lovely sight, back to the main road I go. Finally I get to the lighthouse. Again, just lovely.

And now it was almost 4 pm. I wanted to be farther than I was going to get tonight but I head south on empty roads. I think I actually hit the speed limit of 100! Kph not mph. But getting that tank to go that fast is a challenge. And when I do get the speed up, either a curve, a town or a one lane bridge shows up to slow me back down. And uphill, forget about it! I wanted to make it down the west coast to the kauri forests to stay the night and have a chance at seeing a kiwi but that was going to take until 8 pm and I wasn’t up for that. So I drove until dusk and stopped at a campground in Ahipara.

By now I’m starving since all I’ve had to eat all day was a package of Timtams (chocolate cookies) and Diet Coke. The only place in town is a takeaway place and I get a fish and chips meal to go. They wrap it in packing paper which works well to suck up all the grease! I get back to camp, pour a glass of mead and have dinner. It just slides right down. Then the mornings luck comes back and I spill the wine all over the camper stove. Try to get online but I neglected to look for the word “free” before the wifi and getting a PIN is way too much effort tonight. Tomorrow’s another day.

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Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Cape Reinga
photo by: chunkybeats