I’ve got to admit that I am not an extremely adventurous person. So when you put a non-adventurous person on a bus bound for adventure, it’s hard to get pumped up about the whole idea of sandboarding. Being at the most northern part of the North Island? I could deal with that. Driving down the 90 mile beach was no issue even with the possibility of getting stuck on the sand. Sandboarding? I was determined to stay off the sand dunes and watch people go down instead.
Before the sandboarding extragavanza started, we began the morning with a ride down the beach. Although it is known as the 90-mile beach, it is in fact, only 55 miles in total. We were treated to the expertise of our driver as he drove the bus past soft sand dunes while avoiding the ever encroaching waves of the sea. The entire stretch of beach was good for a drive only during low tide so we were cutting it close by the time we got there.
Getting stuck on the sand was a constant worry as he maneuvered his way through spots of soft sand as the tide slowly crept in. I felt like I was in a movie, being chased as we sped down the whole stretch of sandy beach at high speed, trying to outrun the tide slowly closing in on us in front as we got further down the beach. There was one especially harrowing escape as the bus just managed to break through to the other side of the beach even though the water was already covering the beach area. I guess, we were lucky our bus had big tires. 🙂
The high speed chase was a good start to the morning as we moved on to the “exciting” part – sandboarding. Or maybe not as exciting as I wanted it to be. The good part of being on tour is that they provide you with your own boards. The bad part is that’s the only thing you have to hang on to as you speed down the dunes.
So I did say that I was just going to watch but I thought it would do no harm to just grab one of the boards anyway before he locked the bus. Better to have one, just in case. As everyone followed the driver up the sand dunes, I thought I wanted to have a better look closer and followed along. At the base of the dune, I wanted to have a look at the view from the top and convinced myself I was just going up to take a look. I mean, even if I wasn’t going to board down, the views would be more than worth the climb up. As I lingered at the top, a moment of insanity came over me and convinced myself to give it a try.
And so I did. I started down the steep slope on my board so fast that I had to stop myself from panicking. It was the point of no return and it was a non-stop ride to the bottom. Like, there’s no brake that you can apply so I just dug in my toes as much as I could to slow it down. Even then, I could feel myself going down way too fast still so I just hung on and hoped I would eventually stop. It was really really fast. I just barely stopped myself from ending up in the stream at the bottom but I was happy I made it down.
So I figured that my deed was done, I managed to give it a try once, got enough excitement to last me for a while and all. Or so I thought. Why did I end up at the top again, I wonder? I must be crazy to give this another go, I thought. Indeed, lying down on the board, just as my upper body started to bend sharply down, my brains connected to my heart and I couldn’t help digging in my toes to urgently stop myself from moving down. I suddenly had second, third and plenty of thoughts about continuing.
And as I lay there on the sand, contemplating fear and uncertainty, this kid came running up beside me with his board. Without the slightest hesitation whatsoever, he pushed his way off the sand and happily slid his way down the slope with no fear at all. So was there any other possible outcome for me? Yes, I ended up going down after all. It was still just as scary and fast as the first attempt but I was satisfied I still managed. I may be a non-adventurous person but I refuse to be the adult who lost out to a kid.
Tour or Self-Drive? I would say go with a tour bus if you are not confident with driving on the beach. I was glad that I went with a tour bus even if we ended up taking detours at other places because it was fun to race against the tide to get to the end of the beach. I left it to the driver to worry about getting through before the tide came in and got to enjoy the scenery (or what I could see as he raced down the beach).
The bus was also big and tall enough to get through any water that had already crept in. While the water may not be that far in when we started the drive up the beach, the beach is really long so when we got further up the beach, there were parts that were best to be cautious with. I wasn’t a fan of the other tour stops but I tolerated it because the driver was entertaining enough and I had fun at the beach and lighthouse. And yes, even sandboarding. I had fun doing it even when I was scared going down. So big thumbs up! 🙂
- I joined a day tour with Explore Group for NZ$105. I was picked up in Paihia around 7.15am and the tour ended around 6pm.
- The main highlight of the tour was driving on the 90 mile beach to get to the sand dunes and then on to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga.
- A simple lunch was included and the tour also brought us around to the Gumdigger Museum. The driver also stopped by a popular local fish & chips restaurant for the few of us bound for Paihia.
- Bring an extra change of clothes as you might get dumped into the small stream at the bottom of the dunes if you didn’t stop in time. Or well, maybe stay wet anyway cos why not, right?
- Bring a windbreaker along as well as the winds at Cape Reinga could be really powerful.
- Watch out for the meeting of the two seas! The Tasman Sea meets with the Pacific Ocean at Cape Reinga which is why there were really big waves around the waters there.
How about you? Have you ever tried something scary and backed down? Please do share so that I don’t feel alone in feeling like a scaredy cat! Haha! 🙂