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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Cape Reinga revisited

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 26 February 2009 | Views [1336]

It was an outrageously adventurous day in the Northland today. We nearly got stranded but we made it out. First let me get to the good part. Oh I'm a self-professed traveloholic, by the way! OK OK I'll get to my day. This morning I washed up and then Lance and I decided we'd hitch up to Cape Reinga. He was severely hungover from drinking far too many beers last night. We stopped to say thank you to Judy, the lady who let us stay on the bus last night. She's really nice! Gabe decided to walk up to Waitangi and he took my shoes so I decided to go barefoot up to Cape Reinga. Oh well, our friend Joshua does it. First we stopped at Woolie's to get a Red Bull and a 2-litre bottle of water. It's more difficult to get lifts when there are two men hitching as opposed to just me or if I'm with a girl. Only about 15 minutes after we put our thumbs out there was a Maori bloke heading up to Kerikeri. Contrary to belief, "Kerikeri" means "dig dig" not "to dig." After we were dropped off a Maori lady named Yasma picked us up. She lives in Kaeo, which was about 20 km or so ahead. We were still a long way from the Cape. I was hoping that we could get a lift along Ninety Mile Beach. After we waited for a few minutes a guy named Mano picked me up. He invited us to come stay at his place and that we could go catch some pipis, which are a type of fish that the Maori like to feast on. He lives in a community called Kaimaumau, about an hour north of Kaitaia. He said he'd treat us to a meal if we bought him bread and milk so we obliged. He's never left New Zealand and said he has no reason to. His wife is part Niuean and part Maori, and works at the dairy we stopped at. He lives on a bus and powers it using car batteries much like at the farm in Whitianga. Mano then invited us to stay the night at the property. When I went to have a look at the room we were going to stay in I had fleas crawling up my legs! In 5th grade I had a very bad experience with fleas, therefore I'd rather sleep in the middle of a busy street than in a room with fleas. He seemed to not know about it and then suggested he could fumigate the fleas out but Lance and I decided that we were on a "mish" and that we should just keep going. Our mission was to get up to Cape Reinga. Mano then drove us along the beach and drew a map in the sand to show us exactly where on the peninsula we were. We were not too far from Doubtless Bay (I've yet to get to Doubtful Sound on the South Island). We drove along the white-sand beach for a good half hour or so and we were only about 70 km from the Cape. As we were walking along the beach there were many Maoris fishing for pipis; they all wave and say kia ora. Little children also greet us like we're members of one big family. We started to walk out to the main road until a couple of fishermen picked us up. On the way we stopped at "the last petrol station before Australia" where they filled up and I got a cookie ice cream sandwich. We continued on a wee bit further but it turned out there was another petrol station nearer to the Cape. We were now only about 20 km from the Cape but it was pure misery getting lifts after that. A couple of backpacker vans were heading that way but they were already full. For over an hour and a half we waited. Lance got some tortilla chips so we had something to snack on or share on the way. It was a major headache getting up to the Cape but finally a gentleman named Mark picked us up. He is working with the guys who are sealing the road that leads up to Cape Reinga. Previously it was only accessible by bus or 4WD. Mark told us that we could stay at his house because he has a couple of spare beds. It was after 5:00 PM but I figured there'd be a heap of people heading up to the Cape because the sunset is postcard-gorgeous! Mark dropped us off outside of his home and then we had to walk for a wee bit because there was no traffic. A few huge trucks were barrelling down the road churning up thick dust. As we walked on and on, another man picked us up but he wasn't even going all the way up to the Cape. He's also working with the guys sealing the road. Getting to Cape Reinga by hitching isextremely difficult and should only be attempted if you're a hardy hitcher. We were only a few kilometres from Cape Reinga when we were dropped off but it would be about an hour's walk or so. When we were talking to one of the road sealers I jokingly asked him if he could take us up to the Cape. About 100 metres up the road he came up and then gave us a lift! At about 6:00 PM we were finally there! Getting up to Kaimaumau was the easy part but getting further was a major headache. Lance and I were confident that we'd easily find a ride back to Paihia, likely in one go because many people go up to Cape Reinga to see the sunset and then drive back. In the past three years Cape Reinga has really changed a lot. They've built an "entranceway" and many of the walkways are now sealed. Very soon there will likely be a cafe, shop, and visitor centre. At the request of the Maoris you're not allowed to eat or drink on the Cape. The signposts pointing to various cities were there (they were taken down when I was here three years ago). Out off the Cape there is an island on the horizon called Manawa Tawhi, meaning "panting breath." Rauru, the chief of the people of this place actually swam there! He named the island for his state of exhaustion when he made it there (I wonder how he got back). Manawa Tawhi was inhabited by the Maori up until about 200 years ago. After getting a few marvelous photos we started to head back. There were only a few cars in the parking lot when we got there and two couples had already left so we were hoping that one car left would give us a lift. New Zealand's northernmost post box is at the Cape; the wooden postcard I got for my girlfriend is of Cape Reinga so I thought it'd be fitting to mail it from the Cape. The only vehicle in the parking lot was a campervan driven by a German couple and they agreed to give us a lift to Mark's property. Lance wanted to hitch back to Paihia but I reckoned that we stay there for the night and then get an early start tomorrow. They dropped us off at Mark's house but he wasn't there when we got there. We figured he went out to get some beer because he said he and his mates were going to be "on the piss" tonight. That means drunk. For about 20 minutes we waited but when he got back he told us that there was a change of plans; we couldn't stay there. However we felt like we were in a lot of luck because we had two people in one day invite us in. Lance has some friends in Kaitaia who we could have potentially stayed with but he doesn't know their phone number and can't remember where they live. Mark drove us to that dairy a few kilometres up the road but after that it was sheer misery getting a lift. Car after car was passing by and this lady was picking on me because we didn't prepare property. It's very annoying when people give you a hard time like that when they don't know the situation. It was getting dark and there are no street lights. This area has to be as close to the Australian Outback as New Zealand gets! In the dark, Lance and I started walking. A car passed by about every half hour or so but we had no luck because we had no torch. My camera didn't have enough battery power to use it as a light source. As we were walking a local backed up asking if we were alright. We told him we were just looking for a place to sleep or a way back to Paihia. He said it's going to piss down rain tomorrow and that we should take shelter tonight. There was a hay barn up the road where we could sleep. It really wasn't too late; about 9:00 PM. There was a lot of hay and we could have slept near the top of the barn, where it is warmest. However I was still holding onto the possibility that we could get at least to Kaitaia tonight. We headed a vehicle or two but we didn't know where they were coming from. A logging truck was coming up the road, or so we thought. Suddenly it turned out of a driveway and we missed it! Lance tried to signal the driver by flashing his mobile phone light but apparently he didn't see it. We missed our chance...or so we thought! About five minutes later another logging truck was coming slowly down the driveway. Lance stood on one side of the driveway while I stood on the other. Lance was getting ready to celebrate but I wasn't ready to until we were actually in the truck. The driver saw us...and we were on our way out! The driver is Dickey and his passenger's name is Muggs. Both are Maori. Dickey is afraid to fly and has never left New Zealand. When I asked if he'd even go to Australia he said "only if they build a road there." They were only going to Kaitaia but he said there's another logging truck going to Kawakawa from Kaitaia. The driver of the other truck who had left minutes before we were picked up was happy we got a lift; he said he saw a flashing light but wasn't sure what it was. Muggs was dropped off at his house and then we were on our way to Kaitaia. The only thing I was thinking about is how would we get back to the boat once we get back to Paihia. When we were in Kaitaia we immediately got in another logging truck and we were off on the 1 1/2 hour drive to Kawakawa. Now I can add a logging truck to my hitchhiking arsenal.

The only form of transport I've get to hitch on is an airplane. However that will be easy enough if I get to Whitianga or wherever; I'll just go to the airport. For awhile I feel asleep because I was very tired after this long and adventurous day. Lance woke me up when we were in Kawakawa. Before leaving I got a photo of the logging truck. At the petrol station I got a V drink and I curry chicken pie. The logging truck driver told us we should check out a public toilet that's made of beer bottles. It was quite interesting but it was closed since is was now like 1:00 AM. We asked several people at the petrol station but we got a ride to Paihia about a half hour or so later. We were so relieved! The bloke is an avid fisherman; Lance and he were talking and then I stopped at the property we stayed at last night. The bus was still there! Judy told me she was going to move it today but I figured we could sleep there and just leave very early tomorrow. There are no all-night internet cafes open so I figured I'll just go tomorrow. I wanted to email my girlfriend and see if there was anywhere we could stay on CouchSurfing. Lance joined me and I brushed my teeth and then headed to the bus. It was a long day and I'm exhausted. I'll see you soon!

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