Thursday 9th October – Ahipara and its evil sand!

Ahipara in Northland sits on the Southern end of ninety mile beach, so named by the Kiwis as it’s short of ninety kilometres in length!  When we got up we decided to head down to the beach, which actually is quite long, and pretty soon after getting out of the car I was aware of, yet another, disgusting smell.  It soon became clear what the smell was when we saw a rather large lump which was a dead seal!  Partly due to this and partly due to the crazy wind, we didn’t spend too long on the beach.


One of the activities available in Ahipara, and other places on North island, is sand tobogganing.  The woman where we hired the boards from informed us that the dunes were around a forty minute walk from the car park on the beach and we headed off.  For some reason, despite having heard the directions initially from the woman and me repeating them, Lance decided that it was a good plan to head in completely the oppposite direction onto privately owned Maori land.  After the slight detour we got to the car park and set off with our toboggans in search of the sand dunes.  The walk along the coast and headland was pretty amazing with beautiful views out to sea.  There were lots of people surfing around the headland and people advised us that we should head to the second dune which was apparently much better.  The walk was a bit longer than forty minutes but in all fairness we were walking into a strong head wind (that was always my excuse in the hundred metres too but the darn school never had a gauge!).  When we arrived at the second dune it was positively huge.  It was a mission to climb as you took one step forwards and then felt like you slid the equivalent of around five backwards.  The wind didn’t really help either.  Eventually we got to the top and I put my board down and headed off first.  Within a few seconds I was going crazily fast and wondered whether I should attempt to do anything to slow myself down.  I figured out that at some point I would need to turn slightly to avoid flying off into vegetation below and decided that I would put a foot out.  As I did this there was a kind of sand wave throwing a huge amount of sand into my face and eyes.  I then, in my wisdom, decided the only thing for it was to stick my other foot out which resulted in my toboggan changing direction prior to kind of flipping over and chucking me onto the sand.  I managed to half wind myself, crack my neck (I’m not sure if it was my fist or the toboggan which got it), and cake every millimetre of myself in sand.  Lance stopped and as I gathered myself and my bag together my cigarettes decided that they also wanted a go at sand tobogganing and sped off rather quickly down the dune!  We carried on and, despite having just stacked it in rather spectacular fashion, I managed to come a cropper on more than one other occasion, albeit not at such break neck speed as the first occurence.  The one sad thing about the sand tobboganing was that it claimed a more worrying victim than me… camera!! 


After eating lots of sand we walked back to the car.  It was the first day of proper sunshine since I had arrived on North island, that is until we got back to the car when the heavens decided to open.  Once back at the campsite I made a vain attempt to rid myself of sand by showering, prior to eating and calling it a night.

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