The pinnacle of the North Island, crashing waves of the Tasman and Pacific Sea clamor for attention against the jagged rocks protruding from the cliff’s precipice.
Cape Reinga originates from the Maori language ‘the point where the spirits of the dead meet the underworld’.
Cape Reinga is a favorite tourist destination standing upon the abyss of two worlds. Looking upon the fiery waves vying for space on either side of the Cape.
A place where two oceans collide. The Tasman Sea to the west, and the Pacific Ocean to the east.
The Tidal Race.
A lighthouse perched at the edge of the cliff allows for a unique viewing experience of the tidal race that rages past. Fast-moving tides scurries through a narrowing of watery pathways, eddies, waves and hazardous currents, sweeping past each other in violent defiance against one another.
The Maori view this tidal of nature as an important meeting of ‘the sea of Rehua’ and ‘the sea of Whitirea’, the representatives of male and female tempting together.
The famous lighthouse of Cape Reinga was built in 1941, ceremoniously lit during May 1941, replacing the old 1879 lighthouse on Motuopao Island.
Fully automated in 1987, no lighthouse keepers remain; instead, replaced with a 50 watt flashing beacon.
Although the cape is generally considered the northernmost point of the North Island, North Cape’s Surville Cliffs are actually just 3km further north.
The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman named the headland just west of Cape Reinga – Cape Maria van Dieman. Believed by Abel to be the northernmost point to the new land he originally named ‘Staten Landt’.
Cape Reinga is a rather important location for Maori, as they believe the spirits of the dead travel to Cape Reinga to leap of the headland, which takes them to the 800-year-old Pohutukawa tree.
The 800-year-old Pohutukawa tree.
At the northernmost point of the cape, a gnarled pohutukawa tree stands against
time. This tree plays a pivotal role in the journey to the underworld. The spirits of the dead leap from this tree into the ocean, making their journey to their ancestral homeland of Hawaki.
Is the Journey worth it?
Absolutely. If watching the unique race of nature between two seas vying for space beneath the rocky cliffs doesn’t convince you, just the trip up there with gorgeous sights along the way is well worth the 1.5 hour drive from Kaitaia.
Cape Reinga is considered a cultural and sacred site, so if you are wanting to picnic somewhere, Tapotupotu Bay is a great spot to take a break.
Tours from Kaitaia take you along 90-mile beach, with tourist guides giving humorous anecdotes and relevant info along the way, taking you all the way to Cape Reinga.
Check out this site for recommended tours – http://www.capereingatours.co.nz/
There is nothing quite like reaching the top of a country, and looking down upon the naturalistic chaos that rages below. Cape Reinga offers a glimpse to not only the marvel of nature, also to potentially a whole other world that may linger below the watery depths…
If you like this article, I have an on-going series on locations in New Zealand. From the more well known spots, to some places perhaps even New Zealanders do not know too much about.