Discover the Northernmost Point of the North Island.

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. 

North Cape. Image obtained from

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.

The Discovery.

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.

Protecting Nature.

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.

Surville Cliffs. Image obtained from

Surville Cliffs

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,

Serpentinite 1 | Metamorphic rocks result from intense alter… | Flickr
Serpentine Rocks. Image obtained from James St John from

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. 

Serpentinite 1 | Metamorphic rocks result from intense alter… | Flickr

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. 🙂

Published by sharlene25

Sharlene Almond is the author of the genre-bending Annabella Cordova series, and a New Zealand travel book Journey in little Paradise. She has written a range of health, writing and body language articles; contributing as a guest writer on other blogs. Over the last ten years, Sharlene has attained qualifications in Body Language, Criminology, Journalism, Editing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Pet Care, and Animal Behaviour. While setting up an online nutritional business, she is studying to specialize in Medicinal Cannabis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sharlene is also currently editing her second Annabella Cordova novel, with two others in the works. To support her online business, Sharlene sends out a trimonthly newsletter covering health, body language, writing, and even articles centered on health topics for your pet.

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