Wednesday, November 7, 2012

90 miles of sand

Today we traveled up to Cape Reinga on a bus with Sand Safari tours. This is the #1 rated attraction up here in the northland. Not only was it recommended to us by both S and B, but the owner of our holiday home said it was great too. Maybe I set my expectations a little high, by it was only so-so. The best part was the bodyboarding (pics below).

The day starts with a bus trip up 90 mile beach. Despite it's name, the beach is actually only 55 miles. It's pretty monotonous, I'm guessing this is why people got confused.

The beach is actually classed as a highway in New Zealand and is subject to all the usual traffic enforcement like speeding tickets. (Roads in NZ are not like in Canada.) At one point in NZs past, the beach was actually used as an airstrip too.

Remember to stay left.

Traffic on the highway.
Most of the traffic these days is tourist buses as there is now a "real" highway that goes up the cape too. There were a few people out fishing with atv's as well.

When you get to the top of the "road" you hit sand dunes and you can bodyboard down them. It's exactly what you'd expect - a hard hike up, blowing sand everywhere, 10 seconds of serious fun, followed by feeling really dirty.

The day continues with a mediocre lunch, a visit to the lighthouse and a stop for ice cream. I did manage to mail out a bunch of postcards from "the top of NZ" as well.

We're closer to the south pole than vancouver.

The last stop of the day was at a facility called the Ancient Kauri Kingdom

Kauri trees are a wonderful hardwood only found NZ's northern areas. On average they live 600 years (though some live to be much older). Because of massive amounts of logging there are only a few trees left. 

In the 1970's the Department of Conservation put a ban on cutting Kauri trees, so those folks looking to continue making products from them had to find another way. At some point they discovered "ancient kauri". These are trees that toppled naturally and got buried in swamps. Some of the trees recovered are over 50,000 years old, with the younger ones being 35,000 years. Crazy, workable wood from the days of Neanderthals. 

After having recovered a number of these ancient trees, guess what they did next? Yes, they made chainsaw art. 

No offense to the hermaphrodite above (officially available for sale for $1500 under the title "snake lady"), but she wasn't my favorite. A few of the pieces were neat though. 

Here's a chair that suits SP perfectly:

And this giant log has a working staircase built into it. 

The tour is an exhausting full day and we arrived home still covered in sand. But seen as we did visit a beach today, here is beach hop review #2:

Beach: 90 mile beach
Rating: 1.5/5
Best Use: Tourist trap.
Cool stuff: It's big.

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