Mangawhai, New Zealand … to most people across the globe, this small Northern seaside town carries absolutely no significance and as you read this yourselves it probably does not quite mean much either, or at least it didn’t to us when we first heard about it. It may not be on Lonely Planet’s Top 20 places to visit but for all Gibraltarians there is something a little interesting about a specific Te Arai Beach in terms of geographical location when compared to that of Gibraltar’s.
Unbeknown to even many of the locals of Mangawhai (pronounced Mangafi), their very own beautiful Te Arai Beach happens to be the Antipode to the Rock of Gibraltar; the cruise liner terminal to be exact. Separated by an average distance of 20,020km, it means that there is no greater distance you can travel around the globe, no matter in which direction you travel, before you find yourself heading back to where you first started. What makes it something a little unusual is the fact that we happen to be one of only 28 (approximately) direct antipodal towns or cities in the world contributing to the 4.4% of the planet which happens to have land territory diametrically opposite each other at corresponding antipodes. With around 71% of the Earth’s surface covered by oceans and around 68% of land found on the northern hemisphere, most locations on land do not actually have land-based antipodes.
Having been given this interesting fact by a Kiwi friend of ours, it was always then to be one of our priority destinations during our road trip across New Zealand. Located 100km north of Auckland, this cute little town is best described by the locals as a place which “combines sun, sea and sand with great food, vibrant art, a rich history and incredible scenery”. Now, we know what you are thinking, this is starting to sound a lot like Gib, but it doesn’t even quite stop there, as below the surfers swell is also a vibrant world with majestic marine life such as Bottlenose Dolphins and Orcas who do also enjoy the lively coastline.
Now picture this … waking up on a crisp early autumn morning along an uninhabited coastline where you pop on a warm jumper, sink yourself into a couple of comfy camping chairs and enjoy a hot cup of coffee only metres away from a beautiful deserted beach. Sounds pretty idyllic right? Well if luck is also on your side your morning may even have a little more than expected. As we sat gazing, glazy eyed and empty minded in silence across the deadly still waters, without warning we witnessed a family of eight Orcas break the surface within 30m from the shore line. Looking for an early breakfast, these killer whales were after the resident Eagle Rays found amongst the rocky outcrops within the shallow waters.
“Stood at the Furthermost Point on the Planet From Home”
Although the town of Mangawhai is predominantly visited due its favourable surfing conditions, its natural untouched beauty, surrounding causeway with wetlands and bushes and even the potential for spontaneous natural wildlife encounters should most certainly at the very least get you thinking. In addition, for the curious Gibraltarian like ourselves, although there is no physical evidence to highlight the location of this unusual existence in relation to Gibraltar, to us, actually knowing that we were stood at the furthermost point on the planet from home was pretty surreal. So much so that we did start the dig but the thought of having to dig a 12,756km tunnel straight through the centre of the earth may prove a little difficult and potentially somewhat challenging. Despite Gibraltar’s small size and no matter how far away we travel, we still seem to find small reminders of what a special place the rock is and therefore proud to call it home.
Having now completed a 2965km road trip across both islands, we would definitely go on to say that having your own vehicle and the option to sleep under the stars is essential when touring the country! Whether it be a tent, a converted people carrier (like ourselves) or a campervan, having these facilities will not only provide you with significant financial benefits but will provide you with the freedom to be able to move around at your own pace and avoid having to dictate your travels around a schedule. It will enable you to fully submerse yourself in a country known for its natural beauty, finding yourself surrounded by some unrivalled scenery or faced with once in a life time opportunities that a hotel could only dream of providing.