Week 8: Sandboarding and Glowworms

I came back from my weekend trip to Paihia. This was one of the best things yet in New Zealand. We started off by driving to Leigh, were we were supposed to go snorkling. However, due to ocean conditions this wasn’t possible so after a short visit to the Goat Island Marine Museum we decided to move on. Shortly after that we arrived at Waipi, were we went caving. I forgot to bring shoes that could get wet on this trip and apparently this cave was halfway filled with water, so I ended up getting my favorite shoes wet. About five minutes into the cave a stranger behind us asked us to turn of our headlamps. Confused at first we did it anyway. Turns out this part of the cave that seemed completely dark had all these small green dots on the walls and ceiling. There were glowworms everywhere! It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. such impressive natural beauty. We then moved on and walked through some waste deep water, crawled through a small tunnel and almost got lost. We spend about two hours in the cave and it felt like ten minutes.IMG_5856

After the caves we went straight to the hostel in Paihia, a small town in the Bay of Islands. In this bay there are over 200 small islands. We had some dinner and a rough nights sleep and the next morning we went to 90 mile beach. The name lightly suggests that it is about 90 mile long, however in reality it is only 88 kilometers, or 55 mile long. This beach is a road as well, but apparently not for all vehicles. we saw some 4×4 trucks drive on it without a problem, but the first tourist that we saw got stuck within 100 meters of the entrance and had to be town away by the police who looked like they had done it before quite a few times before. We went boogie boarding in the sea which had waves of about 3 meters high. It was an absolute blast, and as the only one that’s only used to Europe’s sad 50 centimeters high waves I am not afraid to say that I got pulled under quite a few times.

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After that we went to the most northern part of the island. It’s called Cape Reinga. The Maori believe this is the place their spirits go to before swimming to Hawaiki, the place where their ancestors are. When we got there, it was extremely foggy and hard to distinguish anything. As we got closer to the lighthouse, it became more and more clear. At the tip of the cape we could see the Pacific Ocean meet the Indian Ocean. The fog made everything feel a lot more spiritual to most of the group.

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After Cape Reinga we went back to 90 mile beach, but this time not to the water. We visited the sand dunes. some of these were over 100 feet high. We got the boogie boards out of the van and carried them to the top of these hills. We then proceed to slide down the dunes face first and I ended up face first in a river filled with red algae. Another guy nearly broke his neck and someone else flew three meters through the air and also landed in the river. My second attempt, from an even higher dune went slightly worse. There was  no river at the bottom of this dune, there was only sand. I managed to go down the hill fairly smoothly just to come to an abrupt stop. I had landed face first with my open mouth on a small bump and to regain my ability to breath I had to scoop the sand out of my throat with my hands. After sliding down that hill a few more times I also managed to come down without crashing once or twice. A video of this will probably be on my Facebook tomorrow.

The next morning we went to the Waitangi museum, this place, Waitangi, is one of the most important historical sites in New Zealand history. This is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, which prohibited the English from killing all the natives and stealing all their lands. New Zealand is one of the few countries in which they managed to do this. On the picture below you can see the old colonial house in which the Treaty as well as New Zealand’s Declaration of Independence were written and signed. At this place we also attended another Maori welcoming ceremony and were shown some more of their martial arts and they also sang a bunch of traditional songs.

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After the museum we went to some natural hot springs and mud baths. These springs weren’t heated by man but some of these were 47 degrees Celsius. The mud also made your skin feel real soft. The downside was though that everyone and their clothes smelled like rotten eggs. Just now, two days later, is when the smell is slowly starting to fade away, to the joy of all the others in the group who didn’t go in the pools.

I had an amazing weekend, even though I was sick the Monday after. It was one of the funnest things I’ve done here yet and I would suggest everyone to do these things if they ever come to New Zealand.

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