Blue sky, immense hills of sand stretching for miles, yellow rocks, wind blowing the masses of sand onto you with such force it feels like getting your skin rubbed off – it must be a desert! When you see the pictures you will believe that we felt like being in the wrong place. You really get every kind of landscape here, from jungle to volcanic rocks to desert dunes. Except that it isn't a desert, but Te Paki's giant sand dunes, stretching along the ocean for miles and miles on the westcoast. It was an amazing experience and such a strange sight, the ocean next to the desert, next to the deep green forest hills.
In summer they are sand-boarding here. We had enough fun just running down the steep dunes :)
The street took us further down along the west coast, parallel to Ninety Mile Beach that stretches all along the way. We were brave and took Sammy there, driving along the beach, even though he is not a 4-wheel-drive car. We managed a small distance until it got too slippery and we lost our courage. :) Must be great to drive there with an appropriate car and follow the waves all along the northern coast. But there is a risk that your car gets stuck in the sand and that might be fatal when the tide comes in. It was an experience!
Sunsets and Gods
Further along the normal road, we reached Kaitaia and Shipwreck Bay. We were too stupid to read the 'Lonely Planet' and were disappointed not to see any shipwrecks. Later, leafing through the book, we found out that they are exactly where we were, but they are only visible at low tide. We could have expected that :) Anyway, Kay got some amazing Sunset photos. The campsite there was closed, so we spent the night down the road at a free DOC campsite.
The next day we had some driving again, all the way down along Hokianga Harbour to Waipoua Forest, where we saw the biggest Kauri tree alive – Tane Mahuta, the god of the forest. I took a photo of the information board, telling its story and its mesures: have a look below.
Tane Mahuta is not the only impressive tree in this ancient forest, though – there are giant Kauri trees all along the way, even right next to the highway. They really have a kind of magic about them.