Tuesday, October 15, 2013
New Zealand Diary - Giant Sand Dunes And White Sand Beaches
Friday, October 4, 2013
The north island of New Zealand has an area called the twin coasts. It is a narrow strip where both coasts, the Tasman and the Pacific, are a short distance from each other. We drive south from Cape Reinga and see between the green hills one of the giant sand dunes that rises on the Tasman Sea coast. That is where we are headed next.
Clouds come and go but the sun shines mostly and brings out the deep greens of the pastured hills, the sandy brown of the dunes and beaches and the brilliant blue of the sky. Before long, we find the turn off for the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes. It's a gravel road that suddenly brings us to a stop in front of a giant pile of sand. The dunes can reach a height of 6000 feet and are a popular spot for sand surfers. Yes, you heard me right. People rent surf board type sleds and slide down the dunes. Of course first you have to climb up.
Bob and I pass on the $15 NZ/person fee for a board rental. There is no way we are climbing up there as we crane our necks to watch some of the younger and braver souls make their way to the top. No one is surfing though which is disappointing. We had hoped to watch a bit of someone else's fun.
While we watch people on the dunes, several tour buses arrive and pass our vantage point to go around the end of one of the dunes and enter the 90 Mile Beach stretch that allows them to drive on the sand. There's a small stream that they need to ford before hitting the beach. We are glad that we stopped earlier to see the beach. It would have been impossible to get to it from here without getting wet.
When we realize no one is going to surf, we return to our car and continue south while looking for a turn off to go and see the white sand beaches. The white sand is made of silicon and we've caught glimpses of the gleaming sands on our way to the Cape.
Before we can see the white sand, we find the general store that has Bonnie's Ice Cream inside. Bonnie was a favorite person in the area and was said to have the best ice cream around. Unfortunately she died a few months before our trip but others are carrying on the tradition. Bob orders vanilla with honey chunks in it and mine is boysenberry/vanilla. A nice afternoon treat.
A sign points to the east near a turnoff telling us it is for Ruwara Beach and we take the turn. It pays off as we find ourselves at the end of another gravel road but facing gleaming white sand dunes. We linger a bit and walk out near the water's edge. The tide is out and it's a long walk but as we turn to go back, we can see the length of beach as it stretches out in all its sparkling whiteness.
On our way back to Paihia we find a MacDonald's. Ah, a little bit of home away from home. And internet! We order filtered coffees and check our email before calling it a day and arriving in Paihia for dinner.