Where Oceans Meet

Gallery and CafeOver the holidays I was lucky enough to have my mother come to visit from Chicago. It was consistently below zero in Chicago and freezing, so of course, Auckland had a much better December/January track record for weather. Of course, during her visit, we wanted to take her somewhere special, and hopefully somewhere new for us as well.

Cape ReingaWhen Andrew’s parents had come to visit, they had driven up to Cape Reinga, and we thought it would be a good time to do the same. The tip top of the North Island of New Zealand, the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet here. After my mom landed, we drove up north to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, to break up the drive. We love the drive, and got to stop at our favorite Gallery and Cafe. The Cape and LighthouseAll sorts of beautiful art and yummy snacks as well. My jet-lagged mother, Andrew and I, tired from the drudgery of day to day life, arrive in Piahia, grabbed some fish and chips for dinner, and promptly went to sleep once the sun left for the evening.

My mom and AndrewWhile going to bed early you feel like you might miss out, in reality, it means we get to get up early! Bright and early, we drove into town for some breakfast and matching hats! Because you can never have too many hats! And discussed the plans ahead. Sadly, the weather forecast was promising a rainy Christmas, so we decided to charge ahead and drive all the way up to Cape Reinga that day! We drove, and drove and picked up some fresh fruits, veggies, and cheese to snack on and drove on to Cape Reinga.

This is how I'll remember my mom from this trip.We passed an ice cream shop a friend had raved about, and pulled in the parking lot just as a bus full of senior citizens were clamoring, clanking and pushing (their wheelchairs, not each other) into the shop. We sadly decided the ice cream was not worth the wait and carried on. Can you tell I’m still a little sad about this?

Can you see the line?Remember this sign post from the very bottom of the South Island?Cape Reinga was at the end of a short path. Maori tradition has it that souls depart the planet through to the underworld at this northeastern most point of the country. There is an old tree at the end of the cape through which spirits can travel to reach the underworld. Despite the uptick in foot traffic due to the holidays, it was a very beautiful spot and I can see why this point held so much weight with the Maori tales. You could distinctly see the line between the rough Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Door to the balcony at the "cute" hotelDoubtless BayA lovely walk and some more driving ahead, we finally had to turn back to Mangonui. Well, let’s face it, there was no where else to go heading north! Having my mother in town, we decided to splurge on a nicer hotel in the Doubtless Bay area. Ideally, we were hoping it’d be a base point for a few sunny days at the beach; I’m glad we elected such a lovely hotel as after arriving the first night, the weather wasn’t quite on our side the next few days.

The Doubtless Bay area is supposed to have all these beautiful beaches. We even picked up a sun shelter from my old retail job (since, you know, I’m still able to swing the staff discount on occasion) and had our beach things ready to go! The BayThe views were pretty great, and when the clouds cleared on occasion, we were able to manage a walk through town. Settled shortly after the British arrived the area was still rather remote with few shops and restaurants and houses. My mom, Andrew, and I had a blast just catching up without having to bundle up as Christmas usually goes back home.

Shell shoppingWhile it would have been nice to stay a little longer than a couple of nights, Andrew and I had to work a couple of days during my mom’s visit since we hadn’t accrued too much time off yet. We got back in the car and drove and drove on back home. Of course, with the occasional stop for honey, waterfalls, gardens and cheese. Sadly, since my mom is addicted to her camera, I neglected to shoot too many pictures at this point, and even worse, I forgot to steal the photos from her before she left. So, alas. Some photos from the gardens will have to do. And, I’d encourage you to visit your local cheese shop and sample the goods since I can’t quite figure out how to provide taste tests on the blog yet. I’m working on it though!

Cute path through the quarry gardens Arn't we cute.