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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Cape Reinga, dune surfing and 90 mile beach

26th November

 Lovely morning, glad too because today we were heading by coach to 90 mile beach. A very early start and by 7.15 am waiting outside the site by the verge. 7.25 am and the Fullers Great Sightings coach arrived. About third full mostly of Germans, and we were not the last to be picked up. Another 8 to collect further along the road, Australians and a few Kiwis, we were the only Brits

Some lovely scenery on the way to Cape Reinga marred somewhat by the dirty coach windows! Very difficult to get a decent photo. The coach driver was a Maori name of Hughie the English word. He did mention his Maori name but for the life of me I can't remember. Anyway he regaled us with Maori tales, snippets of information of the surrounding countryside as we progressed toward our destination and kept us entertained by singing Maori songs. Lovely chap.

It's part of a roundabout.

First stop Cape Reinga lighthouse. Driving along the 90 mile beach is dependent on tides so as high tide was 1 pm, that trip had to wait until the afternoon. 

About to alight from the coach and had a bit of a panic attack. My camera battery was almost flat and search as I might the spare battery, which I thought I had put in the rucksack, was not there. Anyone that knows me will realise how devastating this was. Me with no means of taking a photo?  I had to rely on Ian taking photos with his phone. Thank goodness for that. 

Point of contact between the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean known as the meeting of the waters

 Back at the coach and Ian had one more attempt of finding that battery. Guess what, it was in a side pocket that I had insisted was not where I would have put it!

Sense of humour restored I went back to take another couple of photos, not right down to the lighthouse mind, it was hard enough going down let alone staggering back up. No, just to a point where I could get both lighthouse and bay in.

Lunch was had here. Not sure what we expected but having paid $140 each, I thought we would get a bit more than a small flatpack sandwich box half filled with lettuce, some grated carrot and a couple of spoonfuls of some sort of chicken mix. Okay we did get a packet of crisps, one biscuit and a sweet (1) so maybe that accounted for the cost (I'm being cynical if you hadn't already guessed!)  But really, that was the only downside to this trip because it was a brilliant day out as you will see if you continue to read on.

Next was to the Te Paki Stream. The coach used to drive along it taking the passengers to the dunes but because of the flooding, part of the bank had been washed away. Only 4-wheel vehicles could manage it now. 


It was at the dune that anyone brave enough could go sand surfing. Well I really, really wanted to do it, but I'm afraid trying to get down on a board would be impossible, especially with my knees! Ian was raring to go, fine I would walk with him to the dune and take a video. Of course, it meant us having to wade through the stream, and a fair way at that, but lovely and refreshing on a hot day like today.



We must have spent a good hour here, probably not intentional but as the coach driver went to reverse the coach, his gear stick broke. Yep clean off, now we were in a pickle! Hughie was unperturbed saying it would all be sorted and to go off and enjoy ourselves. Sure enough when we eventually all returned he had improvised with a Jack handle!

Finally onto 90 mile beach. A great experience and one Ian would have loved to have driven. Motorhomes and camper vans, as well as unprepared cars, are frowned on and not recommended to even try. I know that would not have stopped Ian if it wasn't for me putting my foot down in the first place.


We eventually arrived back a tad after 6 pm. Great day out, the weather was kind, and we had a good entertaining driver. A must-do for all visitors coming to the top of North Island.

 And wildlife

Friday, 25 November 2022

A walk across the longest curved wooden viaduct in the Southern Hemisphere.

 Kawakawa is a fabulous place to visit, a small town full of wonderful mosaics and sculptures and of course those amazing loos. It was all down to a man called Friedensreich Hundertwasser an Austrian who lived in Kawakawa from the mid 70s and gifted the toilets to the town on his death in 2000. I can see why they are so photographed, a pleasure to do your business in. And no....I didn't go into the men's toilets! That was left up to Ian.

Public toilets

top right and bottom left were the showers.

Along the main street was the Kawakawa Station and right down the centre of the high street, the train lines. Having nothing planned for today, we walked to see if the train was operating. It was although not dear old steam loco Gabriel. She was built in 1927, an old girl whose boiler gave up the ghost, and a new one had to be found. Today we heard the boiler had arrived, and it is hoped to have her up and running by Christmas. In the meantime vintage diesel engine 'Kauri' pulled the carriages today.

That's Gabriel's old boiler.

It was fun and Dennis, a volunteer who had been there since the early 80's, did a brilliant commentary. In fact before we set off he took us to the sheds and showed us Gabriel and some of the other engines.

Gabriel top photo and bottom

That's Dennis with the stick

The next project!

Price for the journey, $18 each concession. That included the 15-minute journey to Taumarere station each way, a walk out onto the 'Long Bridge' the longest curved wooden bridge in the Southern Hemisphere, a detailed talk standing almost in the middle looking out across the river (not for those with a fear of heights) and plenty of good humour and laughs along the way. Definitely one I would recommend. 

Oh, and a train trundling down the main street stopping all the traffic, where else would you see that!

An excursion has been booked for tomorrow. We do 90 mile beach by coach instead of taking the Toy.  A really early start, 7.30 am and because we want the fridge to stay on during the day, have booked ourselves into a proper site where we have power hookup. The coach also picks up from here so no need to walk into Paihia.

And one more 'toilet' photo

A very baffled Ian

How am I going to reach that! This was in a loo at Paihia, now pronounced as pee higher!

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