Once an island formed by a marine volcano, ocean currents carrying sand to form a tombolo – a sandy isthmus connecting the island to the mainland, combining the headland and flat to formerly shape North Cape Peninsula.
Although Cape Reinga is traditionally looked upon as the northernmost point of the North Island, in fact it is actually North Cape, which lies 3km north of Cape Reinga.
North Cape takes on the expansive view of Murimotu Island, encompassing Surville Cliffs.
James Cook commanded the ‘Endeavour’ in 1769-1770, discovering the pinnacle of the north island and aptly naming it North Cape, amidst the four Cardinal Capes we know as Cape East, West Cape, Cape South and North Cape.
The North Cape Scientific Reserve now largely dominates North Cape.
The reserve’s purpose is to protect the native and unique flora and fauna filling the area, some purely endemic to a small space on Surville Cliffs. Although some of this area is not open to the public.
Hikura/de Surville Cliffs is the official northernmost point of mainland New Zealand, located at the peak of North Cape.
Jean-Francois-Marie de Surville sailed his ship St Jean Baptiste to New Zealand to care for the sick crew, first discovering Surville Cliffs in December 1769.
Just a few days later, James Cook made his discovery of the cliffs.
Surville Cliffs are a unique naturalistic environment to the threatened and endangered plants we rarely see nowadays on New Zealand beaches.
Hidden beneath the sand-binding plants endemic to this area is a vibrant colony of minerals that sparkle under the sun’s rays.
Greenish, brownish minerals make up an exquisite composition of serpentine rocks, used as a source of magnesium and asbestos. Stunning olivine crystal embedded in dense,
course-grained peridotite rock reflects off the cliff’s face. Interwoven amidst the mineral rocks forms another dark rock rich in iron, known as a mafic mineral.
The sheer steep cliff face filled with glistening minerals and endangered plants, overlooking the expansive ocean, connecting once something that was separate now united. Exploring a world only known to Europeans for a few hundred years.
The unique coastal scenery filled with sand-binding plants pingao or golden sand sedge with its brilliant green, bright yellow and fiery orange stiff curled leaves, interspersed with stiff sharp leaves of the spinifex reminds visitors of the importance of the simplicity of nature.
Explore the very top of little paradise.
If you like this article, check out my other NZ travel articles in the series. And comment if you have been here, and what you think. 🙂