Sandboarding, slightly more pleasant than waterboarding

Vagabond Tim
Early in the morning I stumbled from my room at the pickled parrot to the nearby roadside and hopped on a bus.
Our first stop was at some kind of insane forest walking path called Puketi containing quite a few enormous Kauri trees, It is hard to describe the height of a tree that is about four times wider than I am tall, but suffice to say that enormous does not entirely do them justice.
A few less than interesting stops later we arrived at the Cape Reinga lighthouse adjacent to an absurd sign stating the distance to various world capitals. Since a few dozen of us arrived at the same moment it was nearly impossible to take a decent photo without waiting in a line, so I opted to wander off the path and photograph various rocks and birds. The walk down to the lighthouse is a fairly pleasant thirty or so degree grade, which becomes a lethal death march when attempted in reverse, unfortunately that is exactly what one must do after visiting the lighthouse.
Finally after visiting all sorts of fish and chips shops and driving all over the island we arrived at one of the two actual reasons to take this excruciatingly long bus trip, the sand desert mysteriously adjacent to the ocean. The bus had to drive along the Te Paki Stream bed which meant it could not stop for fear of becoming mired in the wet sand, so it was presumably fairly nerve racking for our driver.
Boards in hand we began the trek up the sand in high winds and blazing New Zealand sun, which I should mention is scarcely impeded by the thin ozone layer. This led to perhaps the stupidest decision of the entire trip, I decided to slather on quite a bit of sunscreen before heading up the dune without realizing that by the time I reached the bottom I would have sand clinging to me like glitter at the worlds worst rave.
Around halfway up the dune I was fairly certain I felt a tingling sensation in my left arm and would die from a heart attack in the middle of nowhere, the gleeful children sprinting past me simply added to the suspicion that perhaps I was in fact just a bitter old man.
As I gazed down along the track to the bottom I realized that nearly half of our tour group had decided not to even bother going up the hill and were standing directly in the path my uncontrollable projectile of a sandboard would most likely take. Neither caring about their safety or altogether able to do anything about it I launched myself headlong into the waiting crowd expecting that they would either move or be hit at high speed, it turned out unfortunately that the latter option appealed to them more. For the next ten seconds or so as I continued to pick up speed and a fairly dense coating of sand I wondered why desert living people don’t do this all the time, then the front of my board hit a small uneven patch sending a spray of sand into my eyes and lungs, suddenly blind and unable to breath the answer became immediately apparent.
I don’t recall much of the impact with the crowd although the photographic record seems to indicate that I was at least temporarily dead.
For some reason or another there were no fatalities and we boarded the bus and headed for 90 mile beach, which is actually about 63 miles long when the tide is fully out and somewhat shorter when it is in. Upon reaching the beach our driver pulled onto the beach, in a bus, to race the tide to the only exit from the beach which is conveniently located about two feet under water. A month prior to this trip I was reading about another bus operated by the same company that had not been fast enough and was washed out to sea, this only added to the excitement of the whole affair.
Cruising along at breakneck speed through rapidly rising water the bus careened along as our driver absently rambled about how this stretch of nearly impassible beach was in fact classed as a highway by the New Zealand government despite all visible evidence to the contrary.
I was fairly certain that I had been temporarily dead earlier in the day and I was equally certain that if something went wrong at this point my death would be somewhat less short lived. After a long enough time to actually become bored with the whole about to drown in a bus thing we arrived at the end of the beach and returned to proper roads, it was then that our driver informed us we would be driving for over an hour to the Ancient Kauri Kingdom so he could rinse the saltwater off of the underside of the bus. Having previously visited the Kingdom on my own I was fully aware that it was an awesome place to visit for about twenty minutes or so, but the cleaning of the bus would take considerably longer. Rather than stop for food in order to give us something to do we headed straight for the Kingdom and were treated to the amazing display of a line of buses being cleaned, it was truthfully less amazing than advertised.
All in all the trip was an interesting way to spend a day that otherwise would have been spent drinking and chatting with weirdos from around the world in a hostel named for an abusive alcoholic parrot, which in hindsight sounds like it might have been more fun although somewhat less life threatening.

The Pickled Parrot is named for a bird which was unfortunately trained by guests to steal and drink beer, this combined with his ability to hurl insults at people led to his eventual removal from the premises for being an abusive drunk

Pre Ride

The long hike to the top of the sand dune made me reconsider the entire activity, however I was not going to walk down again so I was left with few options

Mid Ride

Sliding down a sand dune is infinitely preferable to walking up the damn thing

Dead at end

Upon reaching the bottom I believe I was clinically dead for about a minute due to sand inhalation

Strange Rock

The strange rock with a hole in it, as well as the ocean, was oddly close to the desert of tobogganing

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