On the West coast of the very top of the North Island lies 90 Mile Beach.
Much like your average fisherman telling you the size of his catch, this name is an exaggeration as apparently the beach is only 90 Kilometres in length. ONLY!
It is of interest partly due to its length (of course), for the fact that there are enormous sand dunes that you can board down up near Cape Reinga, the fact that it is in essence a highway up and down the coast (be careful of the tides if you choose to do this…and check your car insurance too).
This place is renowned for car accidents. It is a strange thing to have to look both ways before walking down the beach (and where you park your car!)…and you sure need to be careful where you sunbathe else you might end up with tyre marks on you!
A casual glance at a map of the world tells me that if you head to the very North of New Zealand and could keep going, you would have an enormously long swim before you reach another country. The same is true of other directions because New Zealand really is incredibly distant from other nations geographically speaking.
At the very northern tip of the North Island is Cape Reinga, around 100km from Kaitaia (the most local town of any size). This is a sacred site for the Maori people as it is here that the spirits of the dead are said to journey to the underworld.
It was certainly worth the trip (on a nice day) to witness a beautiful location and one where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet. I cannot recall seeing a place where two oceans collide before, and while it wasn’t that tempestuous, you could see waves colliding from different angles.
The giant Kauri trees af New Zealand are enormous. While not as large as the Sequoia trees in California, they are not far behind. They were decimated when European settlers arrived and began taking them to remast their ships (amongst other things). The timber of the kauri is impervious to water and, it must be said, makes wonderful looking furniture. The gum (resin) was also collected for a variety of reasons such a jewellery or because it could be burnt or used by Maori as a chewing gum.
Kauri are thankfully now protected and there are efforts to re-establish large forests but the trees take a LONG time to grow. You are not allowed to cut them down (although Maori can take them to make a Waka – a ceremonial canoe).
Tane Mahuta (or “Lord of the Forest”) is estimated to be around 2,000 years old and is the largest tree in New Zealand (and probably the largest living thing therefore). It is situated in the Waipoua Forest in Northland. As with General Sherman in California (which is the largest living tree by volume on Earth) taking a photo is not a simple task. Check out the size of the people at the bottom of the tree for perspective.