The Tail End of New Zealand
5th September 2012
It is said in Maori Legend that Maui, a demigod, was swimming around and used the South Island as Canoe to try and catch the Fish of Maui, the North Island, using his grandmother’s jawbone. (don’t ask) if you look at the map of the North Island, you can see it resembles a fish with the bay of Wellington as its mouth and the Northlands its tail.
Isn’t Maori History fascinating? Remember to swot up on it when you book your New Zealand Holidays to get the true meaning of places far and wide across the stunning and culturally rich country.
So where did I go to today? The Tail End of New Zealand or better known as the most Northernmost point of New Zealand…Cape Reinga.
After a day in Paihia in the rain after my history lesson at Waitangi and Haururu Falls, and then followed by a day of travelling to Kaitaia on the West coast of the Northlands via Intercity Bus to stay with Melissa of the Mellyboo Project, it was time to go up to the ‘top end‘ recommended to me by them both.
Booking with Sand Safaris, (don’t forget to book a ticket through the discount website www.grababone.co.nz), I jumped on their bus that would take me all the way through the Aupouri Peninsula to the top of Cape Reinga from Ahipara, a few kilometres south of Kaitaia. A good long drive.
Again, Cape Reinga is steeped in Maori Legend. Te Rerenga Wairua is the jumping off departing point for souls on their way to their spiritual home so this makes the whole Peninsula their big massive diving board! So it is not uncommon to see Maori communities coming up this peninsula to wave goodbye to their loved ones.
These cultural gems were given to is by our amazing Maori bus driver who entertained us throughout. Especially at the start when he told us seriously that he had been part of a programme to get back to work due to his massive criminal record (cue worried looks from people) and that he had just been drinking a lot the night before (cue more worried looks) and wasn’t too sure what the buttons on the bus control panel meant. He then broke into a massive grin and started laughing. Of course he was kidding. This is what I love about Maori people. They have possibly the most awesome sense of humour out of any people in the entire world!
Stopping briefly for a toilet stop at one of the beaches on the east coast of the Peninsula, where I messed around in the sand this getting sand in my pants. What I was complaining about then was in no way in comparison to what I will be complaining about later on that day. It’s not called Sand Safaris for nothing!
Walking down the pathway to the Lighthouse at the end, you can help but feel the souls departing at this end of the world. The mighty Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea creating whirlpools that crash soundly and in stormy weather, these can reach up to 10m in height. Maybe I won’t go swimming then!
Still there are more Maori Legends. At a rock outcropping just branching off next to the Pathway to the Lighthouse, you can see a lone tree. This is called the pohutukawa tree. It is believed to be 800 years old and departing souls are believed to slide down the roots of this tree. So in respect, please don’t go near the tree, let alone drink or eat in the area.
Now the Sand Safari can start. This bus is also 4WD. So instead of travelling back down the Peninsula by the roads we’ve been taking. The tide has moved out far enough for us to travel down another great feature of the Northlands, 90 mile beach!
Armed with a toboggan, it was extremely hard work to get to the lip of the dune and I did feel like I was about to have a heart attack. But seeing as I was one of the ‘youngest’ of the bus crew, I got there first and slammed my way down the sand dune ending up into the water stream itself much to the bus driver’s congratulations! I recommend you wear sunglasses, the sand whizzing in your face doesn’t give you a good look if you are pursing your mouth and squinting under beautiful eyelashes like mine. Check out the video I made of my third attempt to slide down!
The tides of the water was quite funny as well, it would be very low one second and then you would have a mini tsunami the next so you were bound to get completely wet. Many a time I fell over laughing when I saw lots of Japanese standing in the water getting stupid poses done only to be drenched! Sweet revenge for the slow walking they make whilst taking photos of a bin…