Where the world drops off

One of my most effective happiness-boosters is being on the move. New places, new sights, new people, new experiences… I thrive on them. My little roadtrip around the northland reminded me just how much I like covering new territory. And just how much I like traveling in the off-season.  (It means having almost everything to myself.)

Traveling companions
Mangawhai Heads

Had I waited even a matter of weeks to travel north, the tourist season would have kicked off by then and I would have had to share all the natural attractions of the northland with other people (oh, no!). Not waiting for summer was a small price to pay. Although it wasn’t bikini-inspiring weather, it was still gorgeous considering it was late winter.

Mangawhai Heads
Tane Mahuta – largest kauri tree. Stands over 58 ft high with a girth of more than 45 ft.
Morning coffee near Omapere and its giant sand dunes

In a span of four and a half days, I drove over 1300 km. I traveled solo and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed time alone as much as I did on this trip. I stopped at beaches that are usually overrun with other tourists in the peak season – beaches that go on for miles in either direction – and I had them all to myself. I parked overnight in ocean-side holiday parks, where not another camper was to be seen. I ate in quirky little cafes where  the cafe owner and myself were the only people in the joint. I drank wine and watched sunsets and journaled and took photographs and stargazed. It was the perfect trip to decompress from city life.

Koutu boulders near Opanini
Good morning, sunshine
Bayly’s Beach

The focal point of my trip was Cape Reinga – where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide. According to Maori belief, it’s the jumping off point for spirits of the dead to enter the underworld. And although it attracts more than 120,000 visitors each year, I had it all to myself (with the exception of a few people who quickly came and went). It was lightly raining and pretty windy, but I waited it out.

I was rewarded for my patience too – the weather calmed down, the sun came out and I was able to witness a beautiful sunset. All by myself. At the top of New Zealand.

Cape Reinga – at the top of NZ
Cape Reinga lighthouse
Cape Reinga sunset