New Zealand- Chapter Twenty-Six: Cape Reinga & The Spirits of the North (pt.2)

After a deeply spiritual morning at Cape Reinga, I began the long trip southward. My original intent had been to drive over half the way back to Auckland, but since the weather had turned out so nice, I decided to stop a few places along the way.

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I turned off on a side road to the Te Paki Nature Reserve and the sand dunes it encompassed, and, as was so typical in New Zealand, I was greeted by an single sheep standing sentinel in the middle of the the road.

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The Dunes at Te Paki are a famous destination for people to go ‘sand sledding’, and as I parked I was able to see a tour group engaging in the activity. It sure looked like fun from the delighted screams of the people as they raced down the side of the massive dunes.

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Since I was by myself, and did not have a sled with me, I was going to be limited to hiking up the dunes. I did not enter in to this lightly- I knew how much of a slog it was going to be. In the Northwest corner of my home state of Michigan lies Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a special place I have visited often in my life. The experience of climbing dunes there prepared me for my long uphill climb.

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My lonely campervan in the parking lot by itself

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I was certainly glad the weather had cleared, because there was no way I would have attempted the climb in a pouring rain. Upon reaching the top, I was greeted with sweeping views of the river bed and the Tasman Sea on one side and the lush greenness of the interior on the other.

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One of the many tour buses plying the 90 Mile Beach Route

I wondered around on the top of those dunes for an hour or so. I knew how long of a drive I still had ahead of me, or I would have hiked all the way to the Tasman Sea.

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See the two distinct lines of my path up and down the dunes

The hike down was almost more difficult as the hike up. Anytime I gained some speed, my momentum threated to send me spiraling down the hill, out of control.

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My shoes, hidden in the tall grass, right where I left them

The seven square kilometers of sand dunes at Te Paki mark the northern most part of 90 Mile Beach, and that is what I set off to explore upon wading back across Te Paki Stream and back to the campervan.

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The lone sheep I’d encountered on the way in was gone from the road on the way back to Highway 1, but a few cows had decided to take it’s place.

 

NEXT: Chapter Twenty-Six: Cape Reinga & The Spirits of the North (pt.3)

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