Cape Reinga & Far North
Blue skies and golden sand marked our way north, from Kerikeri up to Whangaroa Harbour, along the coastline to the cute town of Mangonui, where we had a classical Fish&Chips lunch, to idyllic Coopers Beach and finally to the single Highway leading to the very north of Aotearoa: Number one, direction Cape Reinga.
On our way we had a stop at Henderson Bay, a nice beach with awesome white sand and turquoise waters.
There are only very few small settlements along the northern road, two ATMs within 100 km and a single gas station that adverstises itself as if it were the last point of civilisation before the edge of the world.
The houses grow fewer and the cows and sheep take over, each paddock so huge you can barely see the fences in the distance. Life seems to be quiet here, at least this time of the year.
So as we arrived at Cape Reinga there were just two other cars next to ours. It must be horrible in summer – they even have a roundabout just before the parking place, in the middle of nowhere.
We felt reminded of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland – the amount of tourists flooding it in summer must be similar.
Luckily, we had the sight almost for ourselves. It was a breathtaking sunset, bathing the lighthouse and the rocks around it in orange light. The two oceans met in some whirls just before us. The colors were amazing.
The Maori legends say that the spirits of the dead gather here to start their way into the afterlife, jumping from a special tree.
But some of them, those having unsettled business, are sent back and have to linger in this world – they come to Spirits Bay.
This is where we spent the night. The Gravel road, surrounded by complete blackness, was the perfect beginning of a horror story. This is also where we saw our first 'possum. And no, we didn't run it over ;) It was smart enough to flee to the bush and didn't 'play possum'.
We barely saw anything as we drove onto the campground, only heard the waves and the whistling wind.
But whatever ghosts may live there, they left us alone this night.
Kay planned to capture a beautiful sunrise in the morning – his second try, remember? And guess what: We woke up to the steady drum of rain on the roof.
Still, a bit later, we had a walk on the beach and saw some red light crawling up behind the hills. The Bay faces directly to the North, so it wasn't as spectacular as it could have been, but still beautiful (there is really no spot in this country that isn't beautiful in some way)
Another cold shower later (this time really luxurious: With four walls around and a roof above me to keep out the wind) we were on our way again.