Day 6: Cape Reinga to Awanui - Foray into New Zealand's far north - CycleBlaze

December 10, 2022

Day 6: Cape Reinga to Awanui

The only way is south

The briefing for today's ride is succinct. 'Head south from the very top of New Zealand and ride for 100 km.'

No problem. We find our spot in the van and settle in for the two-hour drive to Cape Reinga. The further north we head, the emptier the landscape becomes. The humid mist clinging to the hills add to the slightly eerie atmosphere. Those lumpy hills should concern me but I'm still in a Zen state of mind regarding climbing. Long may it last.

The Department of Conservation website offers this explanation:

For Māori, Cape Reinga is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand.

An ancient pohutukawa tree and a lonely lighthouse mark this special place. 

It is here that after death, all Māori spirits travel up the coast and over the wind-swept vista to the pohutukawa tree on the headland of Te Rerenga Wairua.  

They descend into the underworld (reinga) by sliding down a root into the sea below. The spirits then travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands where they climb out onto Ohaua, the highest point of the islands and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-A-Nui.

Once we arrive at the Cape we're encouraged to walk 15 minutes down the path  to the lighthouse while bikes are offloaded. The other piece of advice is for slower riders to start their ride as soon as possible. I take this to mean me so after a quick visit to the lighthouse, I'm on my bike and away while the others are at the lighthouse or still looking for helmets and gloves.

Sand dunes to the west of the lighthouse, with the Tasman Sea crashing onto the beach. A little further along, nearer the lighthouse, is the Meeting of the Waters, where the Tasman meets the Pacific Ocean.
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Another Tasman Sea outlook
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Suzanne GibsonBeautiful! It indeed looks like a sacred place.
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1 year ago
Cape Reinga lighthouse, and to the right, Te Rerenga Wairua.
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I manage to reach the 13km mark before being passed by a speed bunny. One or two others creep up on me afterwards but for most of the 40+km ride to lunch, I'm on my own.

State Highway 1, NZ's number one road, actually starts from the Cape carpark and heads all the way south to Wellington, then across Cook Strait, through Picton and down to Bluff at the bottom of the South Island. It's good fun flying along the deserted highway with a tail wind. The lunch stop at Te Kao is very welcome, however.

The rain also comes to lunch, quickly bringing our rest period to an end. But I'm reunited with my riding buddy, Bruce, and we stay in touch for the remainder of the ride. (I'm very grateful for his drafting when the wind changes direction.)  Other than a few stops to put on and take off rain jackets, the kilometres tick by smoothly. 

The steeper climbs and descents are at the start of today's ride. By the 60km mark, the hills have worn themselves out, leaving a delightfully rolling flat ride to the end.  Perfect riding condition.

Just over four hours after leaving the Cape, we pull in to Awanui where the Ride vans are waiting. The lack of photos on today's ride I put down to rain and the need for speed.  But here's a couple more.

The must-have Cape Reinga tourist shot. Thank goodness I took the time to capture it!
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Bikes are patiently waiting at yet another raincoat break.
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Today's ride: 103 km (64 miles)
Total: 329 km (204 miles)

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Dawn HunterAmazing Robyn. Simply amazing! 👏🏼❤️
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1 year ago