Dec 30

Day 7: Awanui, Cape Reinga Lighthouse, Kerikeri

by in New Zealand Travel, Sightseeing NZ

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We left Paihia at 9 am. We didn’t stop at Kaitaia, but kept going until we stopped at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom in Awanui, a tourist trap where they sell well-made objects from salvaged kauri up to 45,000 years old. Kauri was logged into near extinction by the early settlers, like many other follies made by those generations. It is one of the best possible kinds of wood because the tree trunks were large like the giant California redwoods and grew tall and straight, but it took thousands of years to get to that size. Today, it is illegal to cut down a kauri tree, so old wooden buildings are harvested, as are the surviving tree stumps and logs that were found in swamps.


The Giant Kauri Kingdom

Ancient Kauri Kingdom, Awanui

Sign in ladies' toilet

Sign in ladies' toilet, Ancient Kauri Kingdom, Awanui

One wonders what kind of patrons use the ladies’ toilet at this place, judging by the sign above.

The car (Toyota Aurion 3.5L) had more than half a tank of petrol, so we didn’t fill it up until we realised that it would be all gone just 100 km short of Cape Reinga. The petrol light came on with 60 km remaining and there was just one more opportunity to fill up before the Cape. This was a dairy on SH1 near Te Paki Stream Road, not Waitiki Landing, which some websites say is the last petrol stop. The latter’s location marker in Google Maps is in the middle of a forest near Houhora! The car took NZ$130 worth of petrol at the inflated price.

Don’t believe the photos you see of Cape Reinga with no people near it. God knows when they take those, but the place was crawling with hundreds of people and there were no car parking spots. We had to circle the lower car park a few times until we got a spot. Worse, there were low clouds and not much sunshine, so the pictures were not as we had hoped.


Cape Reinga lighthouse

Cape Reinga lighthouse

The walk to the lighthouse is fairly steep – you walk down a slope, so you have to climb it on the way back. Don’t try it if you have a heart condition — telephone reception (Both Telecom NZ and Vodafone NZ) is non-existent other than some spots about a millimetre in size. I tried to check in with Foursquare but had to wait until a stop at Taipa on the way home, about 100 km later.

We took a detour on the way back to see Ninety Mile Beach. This road goes along pine plantations but the sealed road ends soon and the remaining 8 km is gravel road. A few cars foolishly drove close to the water but none got bogged down.


90 Mile Beach

Ninety Mile beach

On the way back we took the route via Cable beach to Kerikeri. We wanted to visit the Stone Store but it was closed (it was past 5 pm). The road past it has been permanently blocked, possibly to reduce the traffic nuisance for locals. There aren’t many parking places opposite the store, so we stopped illegally and took some photos.

Old Stone Store, Kerikeri

Stone Store, Kerikeri

Just before we reached Paihia, we stopped at the Haruru Falls. These are small but wide and not far from a camping ground.


Haruru Falls

Haruru Falls, near Paihia

The day’s travels took nearly six hours of driving and three of sightseeing. Hope we get fine weather during some part of the next two weeks. Tomorrow we will return to Auckland for New Year’s Eve and then we will go to Whakatane via Hamilton and Rotorua.

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