Archive for the ‘cape reinga’ Category

Spirits Bay

October 16, 2014

Toward the end of our time at Taputaputa, we thought we should actually make some attempt at setting some form of a schedule. With calendar in hand and working backwards, we set out a guideline for where we wanted to go and a loose timeline to adhere to.  We have to be in Auckland by the 19th October as our daughter Alex, along with her partner Ian, are arriving for a fleeting visit to NZ from the UK.   With this in mind, we reluctantly left Taputaputa and headed for Spirits Bay.

Over a day or two, Gail, Di, as well as Jim & Judy, left for Spirits Bay.  We arrived on Friday 19 October, but with the winds building and the weather forecast to become very wet and windy,  we only stayed one night before we made the decision to pack up and make the move south to Rarawa. 

Whilst at Spirits Bay,  Roy made a foray to try an find a memorial plaque raised for Marc-Joseph Marion du FresneAll that now remains of this memorial is the concrete outline of the area where the plaque was mounted.  This is at the entrance to the stream exiting into Spirits Bay at the eastern end.


And finally spotted a Wrybill on the beach in the distance.  Not often seen so far in our travels so this somewhat disappointing photo will have to do.


And before anyone asks, yes we did vote in the NZ Elections, we took advantage of the opportunity to cast our vote early, which we did some weeks ago.

Heading North

September 10, 2014

We enjoyed a week in and around Houhora – relaxing, fishing, hooked up to power, with plenty of Internet access, and lots of great company. In particular thanx to Di, Gail and Marie for your company over the week at Houhora, it was great to meet such lovely women who also are living full time on the road. It just so happened that the three of them arrived at the camp independently over the week, although we had met Gail before a couple of years ago when we were in Lowburn, and Di we had met recently in Kerikeri, and Marie we had met in Kaitaia, we all got together each afternoon for drinks and a bit of a chatting. There were other campers who came and went over the week with a get together held each afternoon to swap fishing tales and the like. However, like all good things they must come to an end and we all headed off in separate directions, we headed back into Kaitaia for a couple of days

Here we can attend to lots of wee chores and get some shopping done to refill the pantry and fridge ready for the run north to Cape Reinga and the DoC camps at Tapotupotu, Spirits Bay and Rarawa.

It just so happens that it is my late sister-in-law Ann’s mother Beryl is celebrating her 94th birthday today, so we called in for a quick chat and the usual celebratory wishes. She does very well for a 94 year old, however, she tells us this birthday she is not renewing her drivers licence and is giving away her car!

We shall be leaving Kaitaia tomorrow morning (Thursday) and once we pass Houhora, there is no cell phone reception, no internet, no radio reception either so things shall be a little quiet for a couple of weeks as this will be our last post for a while. In the meantime, here are a couple of random photos.

The first is the final lot of poppies that were sent off to the Army museum


This is how the locals fix their car aerials, we have seen the usual coat hanger but never a fence standard!


And finally a sign seen locally – it was just missing an ‘R’ –


Enjoy the peace and quiet!

Some More Sights

November 30, 2013

From Tapotupotu we headed south (or probably more correctly East) to Spirits Bay. 

Pat and Sue took the lead leaving us to follow in their dust. 

43 follow

After 15 dusty kilometres we arrived at the DOC Camp and settled in for our stay.  Not too many others in when we arrived and in fact there were never a lot of people in the camp during our stay. 

44 Spirit

The south end of the bay with a small island just off shore, able to be reached at low tide for fishing.

45 spirit 

Looking toward the west and Cape Reinga.

52 spirit

On the hillside opposite the DOC camp there was this well balance rock. Looking quite different from different angles.

51 stone62 stone 

Well out in the open in the middle of one of the larger paddocks in the camp was this Plover nest which had been plundered by some predator.

54 eggs

There are a large number of German tourists in the various DOC camps we have been in.  This one was very keen on hang gliding but the wind was too strong for him to be able to fly so he was practising on the ground.

55 Practice

After the stone fields at Te Paki it was interesting to see a similar feature of the sand dunes at the west end of the bay  The wind was obviously eroding the dune by blowing away the sand.  This has left the heavier stones so that the dune is slowly being eroded to a stony ridge.

56 stone

Another tropical day in the Far North

58 spirit

In parts the beach is covered with a deep layer of these coloured shells.

61 shell

And some people found the sand and sandcastle making irresistible.

63 sand castle

On a day that was less than perfect the brooding clouds provided a cover for Cape Reinga and a gloomy backdrop to the beach.


On one of many exploratory walks along the sand dunes I came across these bushes that had been reduced to mere stalks on the front and top of the dune but had hidden their leaves and fruit on the inland lee side of the dune.  They are obviously very tenacious and manage to live in what must be for them a very hostile environment.

 03 windblown04 windblown

Another day and another fishing expedition along the beach.  This time just in time to see the sun set.

 05 sunset 06sunset

Pat continues to fish on!!


Sooner or later the week marches on and it is Sunday again and time for brunch.


Next morning there is a very dramatic sky to start the day.  Not often if ever seen by other members of the group, so I guess this is the first time they have seen this time of day for a long time.

09sunset 11 sunrise

And then the day wakens to improve the spirits at Spirits Bay


A heron on the lookout for breakfast.

12 bird

One day we drove to Te Hapua to try our luck at fishing.  On the way into the settlement we saw this very typical Ratana Church .  We have seen a number in our travels with the emblematic signs on every one and the reference to Alpha and Omega on the pillars of the church.

13 Te Hapua 14 Te Hapua

A somewhat distorted boat in the harbour at Te Hapua.  The angle of the photo makes it appear much worse.  It is in fact a double ended boat with a bow at both ends. The cabin top (which one assumes is aft) creates a strange perspective.

15two ends

From the wharf at Te Hapua one can see the fertiliser building at Paua.

16  Paua from Te Hapua

And on can also see the silica sands at the mouth of Parengarenga Harbour.

17 silica sand

The next day we headed to Paua and tried fishing off the wharf in front of the fertiliser shed.  After many hours Pat finally caught a fish which, after some struggle turned out to be a stingray.  It was duly returned to the sea.

 21Pat 22Ray

Following our forays using Spirits Bay as a base it was finally time to move on to Rarawa.

Oddities, Observations and Others

November 26, 2013

Well it is well past time that I caught up with the growing number of photos that should have been published over the past two or three months.

So here goes, these have all been taken as we did our round trip from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga and return.

Last picture from Maitai Bay.  There is this rock where the gulls gather every day to await the fish that they hope will come into the Bay.  I think they have had a lean time fishing just as we have.  They had not moved for the past three days!!

bird rock

Finally we are sent on our way by a large rainbow stretching from one side of the Bay to the other.


Not withstanding the closeness of the it was agreed that a cold beer would be a better bet.

rainbow 2

We made a bee-line from Kaitaia to Tapotupotu or Taputaputa (whichever you prefer).  This is probably the best DOC Camp that we have encountered in our travels.  In almost all respects it is a great place to stay.  Lovely beach, water toilets, fishing (although we couldn’t catch a cold).

We were greeted by a guard of honour when we arrived.  They may have thought we would feed them but they were very much mistaken.

 standing guard

Ever hopeful!!!!  But as usual the return was empty handed.  One day it will happen.

off fishing

Of course one can always find a few drops of good cheer to end the day


One day we took the opportunity to again visit the cape Reinga lighthouse.  The last time we were here it was blowing a gale but this time we decided to go late in the afternoon, early evening, to see the sunset at the same time

Supporting the lighthouse

at the light 2  

cape reinga lighthouse

posing 2posing 4

The pohutukawa at the right is the final point of departure for the soul.  Gliding down into the water from its branches


On our way back to the car we spotted these Brown Quail foraging alongside the track to the lighthouse.

brown quai 2 brown quail   

And then we waited at the carpark to observe the sunset, which was a sight to behold.

sun down 2sun down 4

Looking out into the bay one day this hovercraft appeared on the horizon, but later resolved itself into  cruise liner

   hovercraft 2      

We had seen a peculiar plant alongside the road into Taputaputa with a bright yellow fruit.  We picked some fruit and carefully plucked some leaves. 


The fruit, when cut open were completely packed with seeds.  Bright yellow on the outside, they have lighter yellow seeds and a green gelatinous packing.

sodom 1  

The leaves are a real trap for any one.  There are thorns/prickles on the stem and on the back of the leaf stems.  The upper surface of the leaves also has thorns so that it is almost impossible to pick a leaf without being spiked.

sodom 4

The photo below gives away the family to which this plant belongs.  It is a member of the Solanum family which contains the Tomato and Potato.  We finally found out that it is Sodom’s Apple.   Apparently quite poisonous, which probably accounts for it’s bitter taste which Sue reported.

6fruit  6fruit 

Another aspect of moving around is the variety of species of birds that one comes across.  Part of this is the fact we spend more time outside and therefore see and hear more of the animal and avian population around us and of course the species numbers vary substantially around the country.  The fellow below looks very much like a variegated sparrow but in fact it is a Pipit which are very common up this way.  They are often seen in the same areas as sparrows as they seem to feed on the same types seeds and insects.


Another common sight is the Yellow Hammer or Yellow Head, again common up here, and again often found in the same areas as Sparrows. 

8Yellowhammer 9yellowhammer

We also took time out to visit the giant sand dunes at Te Paki.  At first sight they just appear to be just large monotonous hills of sand with a lot of tourists sand boarding down them.

10sand surfing35 Stone

However as one moves further into the dunes they are full of interesting sights.  The sand itself is obviously soft in large parts, but it is also very compacted in others.  This leads to areas where the softer sand has been blown away from the hard compacted sand leaving ridges and domes of hard sand on its way to becoming stone.

 12sand 13sand


Also there are patches of shell that have been worn out of the sand.  These are often collected into relatively small areas.  It would be interesting to know the age of some of this material.

 15Shell 16Shell

The photo on the right shows a large variety of shells,  the most interesting is the snail like shell in the centre.  It is loosely wound with a hole into its centre.

38 shell39 shell


The other sight which is quite unique are the fields of stones.  The stones vary in size from two to three cms up to 10 to 20 cms.   They have obviously been buried at random depths but as the sand has been blown away they have fallen down onto the hard pan in a random pattern.  These stone fields can be quite expansive in some areas


32 Stone37 stone

The two photos below show the edges of a hard dome that has been worn through leaving the interior area exposed to wind and rain which has weathered it away.

17hard ridge 18inside shell

This is Sue and Pat on there way up one of the larger dunes used by the sand boarders, with Pat taking photos from the top

19Pat and sue 20Pat 

And Sue shows how soft and difficult it is make progress.

 22Sue  31 Sue 

And here is a clue as to how the hard pan is formed.  The dark area has been wet recently and has set into a hard crust.  By the time this has occurred a number of times a thick layer will form which will get harder and heavier so that it will compact

33 Stone 34 Stone 

And this one is most unusual as it appears to have been formed as a circular or ball shaped concretion, perhaps similar to a Moeraki Boulder

36 Concretion     

Well that’s the end of this catch up.  Some more to come before we are up to date.

Heading south again

August 17, 2013

Well we are finally turning our back on Cape Reinga and heading South again.   Having spent time at Tapotupotu we would gladly return and visit some of the more remote parts of this part of New Zealand.  Next time taking time to walk some of the tracks to Spirits Bay and Te Hapua.

So early, well early for some of us, it was up stakes and away.  We wound our way out of the Bay to the main road and then turned south.

Looking down on the bridge across the estuary behind Tapotupotu and there go Brian and Marj ahead of us.

  63bridge 64mates

First stop is at a lookout toward Cape Maria van Diemen and Te Werahi beach.


Some people needed a higher viewpoint to see the sand dunes!!

 68photo 69dunes

Then it was off to Te Paki to view the giant dunes and access road to the top end of Ninety Mile Beach.  We left the motor homes at the car park beside the main road and hopped into the RAV to go to the car park at the end of the road at the dunes.

The dunes themselves are immense and constantly on the move and changing shape at the same time.

 70tepaki 71tepaki

At the same time as we were there a tour bus came through from the beach.  It was quite some distance from the beach at this point and we could not see the sea from the riverbed even after having walked around a couple of corners from the car park.


We went back to the main road and settled in for morning tea and a breather before heading off to Paua. Heading down the road we get our first glimpse of the Silica Sand hills on the other side of the Parengarenga Harbour.

 76paua 77silica


Then we arrive at the location of the park over at the end of the road.  There is a derelict fertiliser shed and wharf and nothing else.  As the day at this stage was cool and very windy we decided we needed a little more shelter and more salubrious surrounds so we gave Paua away and headed for Houhora.

78paua 79paua

Cape Reinga

August 15, 2013

Monday morning we drove back up to Cape Reinga for the walk out to the Lighthouse and to view the meeting of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.  Once we  reached the carpark we struggled to find parking!


Finding a parking spot.

If only we had known that John Campbell from Campbell Live was filming here at dawn this morning, we may have made an effort to join him!

The wind was so strong at the Cape, that it took all our strength to stay upright for the walk out to the Lighthouse.  The visitor experience is one of the best we have encountered.  The entrance to the walkway is through a large gateway with beautiful Maori wind instrument music leading you through.

23Mural_thumb[2]Mural at the entrance

The pathway is well sealed and maintained with excellent interpretative signage all along the route which explain everything from Maori legend and significance of the area, through to flora and fauna, geology, and later European discovery. 

28cape_thumbThe start of the walkway looking out to Te Werahi Beach and Cape Maria van Diemen

 21Cape_thumb 29cape_thumb

A closer view                                  and zoomed in

Cape Maria van Diemen is the western most point of the North Island and named by Abel Tasman in 1643.  It is between Cape Maria van Diemen and Cape Reinga that is the meeting of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean resulting in unsettled waters. 35meeting_thumb40meeting_thumb30lighthouse_thumb43meeting_thumb

The meeting of the seas.

For Māori, Cape Reinga is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand. An ancient Pohutukawa tree and a lighthouse mark this special place.  It is here that after death, all Māori spirits travel up the coast and over the wind-swept vista to the pohutukawa tree on the headland of Te Rerenga Wairua. They descend into the underworld (reinga) by sliding down a root into the sea below. The spirits then travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands where they climb out onto Ohaua, the highest point of the islands and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-A-Nui.

44lighthouse_thumbLighthouse on the left with the headland to the right

33pohutukawa_thumbClose up of the headland….can you see the tree clinging to the cliff face?

32pohutukawa_thumb Said to be well over 800 years old, tradition has it that the tree has only flowered once in all those years.

Onto the Lighthouse, first used in May 1941, the lighthouse was the last watched lighthouse to be built in New Zealand and stands10m in height and 165m above sea level. Originally, Motuopao Island was chosen as the site best suited for the location of a lighthouse.  However, by the beginning of WWII, it was decided that the light was in the wrong location, so in 1941 the glasshouse and light mechanism on top of the lighthouse were removed and re-erected at the new lighthouse settlement at Te Rerenga Wairua.

The Cape Reinga light today is automated, with the last lighthouse keeper being withdrawn in 1987.

37lighthouse_thumb 39distance_thumb

Lighthouse and sign