All of those photos are shot on a Sony a7rII and ZEISS 35mm, 50mm & Batis 25mm
90 Mile Beach
There’s this beach in New Zealand, called 90 Mile Beach. Except it’s not 90 miles long, in truth it’s actually 88 kilometres, or 55 miles. Still, it’s really long, and really straight. It’s a recognised public highway, and sometimes the only available one up to the top of the North Island if State Highway 1 is closed due to flooding.
Driving a car down a beach with the windows down and the sea breeze keeping you cool on a hot summer’s day sounds pretty idyllic. So we thought as we made our way there with the Mercedes GLE350. It hadn’t crossed our mind much that it’s probably not a very smart thing to do with such an expensive car. Until we were standing at the beachfront, and saw the strip of soft pillowy sand at the entrance, and witnessed many other cars (albeit most not 4WDs) slipping and sliding and scraping the bottom of their vehicles on large rocks as they emerged onto the road. There’s also the very real danger of the tide coming and causing our car to sink and disappear forever.
After weighing up all these risks, Chris and I decided that not going on the beach was a cop out, but attempting to drive all the way down to Cape Reinga (which requires exiting the beach by driving through a river) was tempting fate too much. So we summoned our courage, hopped in and rolled slowly but steadily down onto the sand. So far, so good. A quick check to confirm we weren’t sinking once we hit the firm sand, and then Chris got out to snap some photos while I enjoyed the scenery. 5 minutes later we were already back on sealed road again, frayed nerves but proud of the fact that we have now officially driven on a beach. All in all the GLE handled our offroading stint like a champion, and I’m sure it would have coped just fine driving all 88 kilometres.
I love how NZ beaches all have some unique quality to them. West coast beaches often have sooty, black sand and wild crashing waves. Rarawa beach, halfway between Kaitaia and Cape Reinga on the East Coast, has pure white sand the texture of powdered sugar, and gently ebbing waves. It’s truly a peaceful place, and our DoC campsite was just a short walk away over some sand dunes.
Spirits Bay campsite was a definite highlight of our roadtrip. 20kms down a gravel road, completely isolated and far away from civilisation, we made our camp at the DoC site at the edge of the beach and set off exploring. Spirits Bay sand is covered in millions of broken up shells that crunch under your feet and give the beach a pale pink colour. We crossed a river and hopped over a fence and were surrounded by curious horses. There we watched the sunset, wondering at how surreal and beautiful it was and hoping that this moment would last forever.