We continued our trip on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway and finally arrived at Cape Reinga. Afterwards we followed the West Coast back to Auckland. On our way we visited Ninety Miles Beach, magnificent Kauri trees and did “big-game hunting” 😉
Cape Reinga is located in the northwest of New Zealand’s North Island. To visit Cape Reinga we had to turn off the Twin Coast Discovery Highway and drive almost 100 km north on Highway 1. Cape Reinga is a very popular tourist destination with about 120.000 visitors a year and in the high season with up to 1.300 vehicles a day and everybody wants to take a picture of the lighthouse.
In winter we are fortunately far away from such masses of tourists. Quite the opposite. When we arrived there are 5 cars on the parking lot. And when we made ourselves on the short footpath to the lighthouse these visitors already came back 🙂 So we had this great place all to ourselves, how awesome was that?
The Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet at Cape Reinga. And we could see this unique natural spectacle from above.
Cape Reinga is also the starting point of the Te Ararora Trail, which runs for almost 3,000 kilometers from the north of the North Island to Bluff in the south of the South Island. We have often encountered signs of this long-distance hiking trail on our journey through the North Island 😉
Ninety Miles Beach and Ahipara
Even though the Ninety Miles Beach is “only” 55 miles (88 kilometers) long, its sheer size is hard to comprehend. At low tide, the beach is so wide that excursion buses or all-wheel drive vehicles can drive along it almost to Cape Reinga.
As the weather was expected to be a little more unsettled for the next days, we decided to stay for three nights in the Ahipara Holiday Park. To get from Cape Reinga to the campsite we needed about 2 hours. And also Ahipara is still at the Ninety Miles Beach!
The campsite was really great! With a great lounge, good internet and even a fireplace in the evening. The heavy showers that came down every now and then could not bother us at all.
And when the weather was good, we took our chance and went for a run or took a walk at the beach. Only on the last day it was simply incredibly windy and we were partially sandblasted…
If you follow the Twin Discovery Coast Highway from Ahipara to the south, you automatically pass the Kauri Coast. The large Kauri trees are New Zealand’s largest native tree species. Unfortunately these great trees are very sensitive and so all visitors are encouraged to clean their shoes, disinfect them and stay on the trails. Unbelievable that some visitors do not follow these instructions 😢. And so the hiking trail to the Four Sisters was closed recently.
Nevertheless we were lucky to visit Tane Mahuta, the largest remaining Kauri tree in New Zealand. This is an incredible 2.000 years old tree, more than 51m high and with a trunk diameter of more than 4m. Next to this giant you feel quite small.
We went on to the Trounson Kauri Park, where the Kauri trees are much smaller, but still quite numerous.
Trounson Kauri Park Campground
Directly at the park there was also a camping site where we spent the night all alone. And because we drove about 7 km over a gravel road into the park, it was quiet as a mouse.
In the middle of the night, this changed abruptly and again and again I heard a rustling. Did that come from inside our campervan? I woke Christiane and quickly, we had identified our garbage bag as the cause. Had a mouse sneaked into our camper and nibbled on our leftovers? Quickly I decided to remove the garbage bag (including the mouse) from our “bedroom”. On the camping site itself there was unfortunately no possibility to dispose of this bag. So I hung it on the outside mirror and quickly we closed the door again…
Just when we had turned off the light, it was rustling again. And again from inside the campervan 🙁 How do you catch a mouse in a narrow campervan with many corners and hiding places? As vegetarians we had of course no bacon in the fridge. So we had to use our cleaning bucket, which we filled with three tasty muesli bars and set up as a “trap” to remove also the second mouse (or was it still the first?) from the camper. Meanwhile it got louder outside, too, probably a possum who was interested in our garbage bag. In the dark we lay around quietly for a while, trying to distinguish the noises from inside and outside to see if our plan worked. And indeed we heard some pitter-patter under our bed. But when I checked with my red flash light, there was no mouse yet… So we waited further. At some point Christiane’s deep breathing joint the rustling from outside the van. After a while, I also fell asleep. By the way, the mouse did not show up and even when we dismantled the bed the next day there was no trace of it. Our house guest was apparently not a fan of muesli bars 😂.
We then went further to the south and the landscape gave us everything again
We slowly but surely got closer to Auckland and the end of our time in New Zealand. For our last night on a campground we chose the Muriwai Beach Campground. As the name suggests, it was located directly at the Muriwai Beach. And so we took the opportunity to say goodbye to New Zealand’s beautiful coastline at this dark sandy beach. And again (or still) we got spoiled with beautiful sunny weather.
Now the winter can slowly arrive in New Zealand, too, because our next destination are the Cook Islands. If you believe the travel portals, June is the ideal travel time. It is one of the driest months and we are already looking forward to water temperatures of 25°C 😎.