On Tuesday 7th April Mac and I set off to go to the top of New Zealand - well, the most northerly part that can be reached by road. In 2003 we had made it to the bottom of the South Island, to Bluff but we had never made it to Cape Reinga. We got more and more anxious as the rain set in, but kept going determinedly believing that the clouds would clear.
And we were right!
The Lighthouse (obviously!) which is now fully automated and run on solar power from panels you can just see sticking out to the right of the lighthouse.
Mac posing for the obligatory tourist photo.
Out in front of the lighthouse is the place where the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet - you really can see the waves coming from both directions. It is an amazingly spiritual place, and I could tell that the other people there felt the same even if they wouldn't necessarily express it in those terms: everyone spoke in subdued tones, and apart from the photo taking, behaved pretty much like people do in a church. (Well, how they behaved when I used to go to church over 40 years ago - who knows what they do these days?)
Heading back down we went and had a look at the huge sand dunes which are made up of sand from the central North Island volcanoes, which was washed down the rivers, out to sea, and then up the coast. People now slide down them on body boards - but we decided not to hire boards and walk to the top of the dunes this time but to wait till they put in a ski lift!
Next stop, Spirits Bay. What a treasure.
Though the beach sloped a bit too steeply into the water, and the water was a lot colder than Raglan so my togs stayed in the car!
Further on we stopped at Gum Diggers Park where we followed a trail around a gum field which has a recreated gum diggers village.
A gum diggers hut - note the Wellington boots, originally made of leather, which in New Zealand became known as gumboots because the gum fields were where they were mainly used in those early days. Another word discovery for me.
The huts were made of whatever was to hand, sticks and the sacks that the gum was shipped out in. Not exactly weather proof, and I doubt anyone lingered in bed once awake!
Sieving for small pieces of gum.
The store where the diggers sold their gum and bought provisions.
Spikes were used to stab the swampy ground and when they felt something hard they dug. Some small holes,
And that's about it. No sons with us for the first time in 28 years, but Mac and I are still having educational holidays and learning lots!