When you're heading for the northern most tip of the country, Cape Reinga, and the road just stretches out emptily in front of you and everywhere you look, to left and right, there is splendid isolation, you start to think you have the world to yourself.
Then you come up over the last ridge and there in front of you is ....a carpark! I kid you not, a great big carpark filled with buses and bikes and dozens and dozens of cars. And, if you are me, you think "Where the hell did they all come from?"
Get out of the car and join the crowd, follow it hoping to see the lighthouse, the reason for your visit. Listen to the languages being spoken, look at the faces and the colours of the skin and you soon realize these people come from all over the world.
Last time I was here you barrelled on up to the foot of the lighthouse in your car - and you were the only ones there. Times have changed, the lighthouse is now a "destination".
Now you walk through an arched walkway and the lighthouse stands below you in the near distance. There is a paved walkway.
But there is also a little optional hill, a higher point, for the agile. GB chose to go up it, I did not.
This beautiful beach stretches below you, to the left.
Buses must have been hard on our heels because by the time we walked down to the lighthouse, all these people were also there. For me, that spoilt it a bit.
The two photos above were taken about 15-20 minutes apart.