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The Northlands

It's been difficult to find the time or the internet to write but Week 1 has been a major success! After leaving Dublin on Wednesday night, we finally arrived in Auckland on Friday morning to blue skies and the feeling that summer was fast approaching. A shuttle bus collected us and brought us to pick up our home for the next 10 weeks, the campervan. Our Toyota Hiace (nickname TBD) is a thing of beauty! It's cosy, yeah, and doesn't perform well in high winds but it has everything we need to get us through our travels in NZ.

Tired, jetlagged and not really knowing what day it was, we were still eager to get out of the city and begin our adventures. We drove straight to Piha beach, about 1 hour outside of the city. This is known to be one of the most dangerous beaches in NZ to swim in but the locals said it doesn't stop them getting 15,000 visitors a day in the height of summer! After a short walk on the beach, a climb up Lion's Rock and seeing our first NZ sunset we were ready for our first night in the van.

13 hours sleep later and the jetlag was no more! Now the adventures could really begin. Our plan for the first week was to head north and end up at Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of NZ. Along the way we walked the Waimamaku Coastal Track just outside Opononi, stopped at 90 Mile Beach for a look (tis very long lads), and went sand boarding on the Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes (10/10 would recommend). 

The Waimamaku Coastal Track. Our first taste of New Zealand hiking.

On day 4 we landed at Cape Reinga. The weather was beautiful and it was amazing to see where the Tasman Sea meets the South Pacific Ocean so clearly. We walked for a short distance along the Te Paki Coastal Trail and watched the sunset over the Ocean. 

Sunset at Cape Reinga, the most northerly point in New Zealand. This is where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet (just to the left of the lighthouse!).

The next leg of the journey would take us south towards Goat Island, a marine reserve. Here we rented snorkels and took a swim in the South Pacific with giant snapper fish, red moki and leatherjackets. We were hoping to see some stingrays but it is still quite early in the season for them and the water is still too cold. 

Snorkeling in Goat Island Marine Reserve. Head to toe neoprene needed!

Heading further south still, the week ended with a hike to Cathedral Cove to watch the sunrise. We were so lucky to get a belter of a sunrise and even luckier to have one of the worlds most beautiful beaches in the world to ourselves for the guts of an hour. Gavin was in his element taking photos while I went back to my childhood days and played on the beach! Simple times but a morning that will live long in the memory.

Morning light at Cathedral Cove.

Next up, we have a jam packed week of whitewater rafting, hiking, jet boating and caving. That'll all be taken care of in the next post. Absolutely loving this place so far!

Written by Emer. Photos by Gavin.

Highlights of the Week

Sunrise at Cathedral Cove. One of the most magical places I've ever seen.
The Waimamaku Coastal Track.

Cape Reinga by day. Well worth the 7 hour drive!

A moonlit Cape Reinga Lighthouse. Right before I got completely freaked out by a load of animals watching me from the trees.

Scooting down Te Paki Sand Dunes on body boards.

1 comment

  • Looks just amazing guys , so enjoyed reading all about it Emer . Photos stunning Gavin , keep them coming . Better than the constant rain here . Sounds like ye are really loving it . Safe travels 👋👋😍

    Maura O'Connell

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