Cape Reinga...Where Two Oceans Collide
07.12.2017 - 07.15.2017
Mangonui is a fishing village located in Doubtless Bay; the other resort towns along the Doubtless Bay coast are Cable Bay, Coopers Beech, and Taipa, After an uprising in Russell, Mangonui became NZ's second capital.
Cape Reinga is at the very top of NZ's North Island; it sits at the end of the Aupouri Peninsula. While it's not quite the Northern most point of NZ (North Cape is further north, but it's a scientific reserve not open to the public), Cape Reinga is certainly at the end of the road. It was first sighted by Abel Tasman in 1643.
For the Maori, Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) is one of their most sacred sites in NZ; it marks the place where the spirits of the dead come to return to their traditional homeland.
90 Mile Beach
After we left Cape Reinga, we followed 90 Mile Beach down the west coast . It's actually only 60 or so miles, but when the missionaries first traveled here, they made a miscalculation. They thought that their horses could only travel 30 miles per day, but in actuality, on the sand, it was only 20 miles. So three days of travel was 60 miles instead of 90...makes a good story!
The Hokianga Harbor sits between a north and south head; it is often referred to as Hokianga Heads. Most Maori in NZ trace their ancestry to the discovery and settlement of this harbor. More than a thousand years ago, this is where Kupe ( the Polynesian explorer and navigator) and his people first landed.
A little further south along west coast, we stopped at the Waipoua Forest to see some of NZ's largest Kauri trees. Nearby there are ancient buried Kauri forests; they are estimated to be between 40,000 to 150,00 years old. From 1870 to 1920, gum digging was a major source of income for the Maori and the settlers of the the Northland. By 1890, there were an estimated 20,000 gum diggers; however, the Northland region was not the only gum digging location in NZ.
Kauri gum is really the fossilized resin or sap from the Kauri tree; the older it is, the more valuable it is. It had many uses, but it was mainly exported for use in varnish. It was Auckland's main export in the second half of the 19th century.
Today, Kauri dieback disease has become a problem; it is a fungus-type disease whose spread can be reduced by cleaning shoes and avoiding the Kauri roots.
On the last night of our driving trip around the North Island, we stayed on some farmland, at a settlement called
Maungatapere. One of best things about this location was that we were allowed to walk around on the neighboring farmland. We were able to visit a waterfall that sits in the middle of a field, and a little chapel that the farming community built to overlook this waterfall.