When I mentioned to my friend Vivien that we were hoping to make a trip to New Zealand, she extended an invitation for us to visit. She and her husband, Tony, also offered to show us things that tourists don't normally see. Of course, we leaped at the opportunity.
Vivien first took us to the top of Mount Eden so we could get our bearings and a good view of Auckland.
After a good night's sleep, we headed off the next day.
Vivien had made arrangements for us to take a bus trip along the 90-Mile Beach. The beach is an official highway, however only 4-wheel-drive vehicles and some buses can drive on it. Because of the tides, it's safe to drive only at specific times.
The "90-Mile Beach" is, in reality, just 55 miles long. By horse it takes three days to travel the length of the beach, and it was widely assumed that a horse could travel about 30 miles a day. It was later found that a horse couldn't travel that far in the sand, but the name "90-Mile Beach" stuck.
Once on the bus, we learned that one of the highlights of the trip is to go down one of the large sand dunes on a boogie board. Although Tom wasn't dressed for such an adventure, he decided to try it, and simply rolled up his slacks.
Here he is making his way to the top.
And here he is at the bottom. (He managed to stay pretty dry.)
We also went to the northernmost point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. This is one of the most important cultural sites for the Maori people, the indigenous people of New Zealand. It is beleived that the Maori people originally came from the eastern Polynesian iskalnds.
The Maori refer to New Zealand as Aotearoa and to Cape Reinga as Te Rerenga Wairua. In the Maori language the name means the "leaping-off place of spirits" because they believe that this is "where a person's spirit comes after death and departs for their eternal home".
High on a hill is a lighthouse built in 1941.
This is where the Tasman Sea meets the South Pacific Ocean. In the next photo you can see the difference in the color of the waters.
On another day, we took a ferry ride with our friends. As you can see, we had beautiful weather to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Here is a final photo from northern New Zealand. Every view was truly a "billion dollar" view!