When we planned this JWalking trip to New Zealand one of the places we really wanted to visit was the northernmost point of the country, Cape Reinga. Our whole road trip of Northland was organised around getting right up to the Cape, and back of course. It’s 100km north of the nearest small town of Kaitaia and only reachable via State Highway One so getting there is a serious trek.
The only other way of reaching it is to drive up 90 Mile Beach in a 4×4 or on some crazy big-wheeled tour bus and we weren’t going to get involved in either of those.
Te Rerenga Wairua
The Maori name for Cape Reinga is Te Rerenga Wairua and it’s apparently the most important Maori site in the whole country as this is where they believe that their spirits leave our world and pass into the next. There is a sacred 800 year old Pohutukawa tree on the rock at Cape Reinga where these spirits climb down the roots and join the spirits pathway to the underworld.
Journey to the Cape
An early start from our Airbnb in Ahipara with Jo at the wheel, as usual, and we were flying through rolling hills and beautiful countryside towards the Cape. Through fabulously named places such as Awanui, Waipapakauri, and Pukenui. Amazingly we hardly saw another vehicle on the whole 90 minute drive and as we pulled into the car park there were only a couple of other cars. Seemed a little weird as it’s supposed to be one of the biggest tourist sites on the North Island but we were delighted to be avoiding the crowds.
A brief walk out and we were met with the stunning site of the Cape Reinga lighthouse sitting proudly at the intersection of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps it was the blue sky or maybe the lack of people but the place had a certain sacred feel about it. The Pohutukawa tree was easily visible on a rock to the right of the lighthouse but access is definitely not allowed.
Where the Oceans meet Head-On
As I said this is the place where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. The whirlpools and crashing waves looked fairly dramatic in good weather so must be incredible in the middle of winter on a stormy night. You could really feel the power as these two massive forces of nature battered each other right in front of us.
A few photos and a brief wander around the lighthouse was all we needed before making our way back up the path. Unbelievably this place has over 120,000 visitors a year and has around 1300 cars every day during the summer months. We couldn’t really get our heads around that as it was so quiet when we were there.
So if you’re visiting Cape Reinga, go out of season. You know it makes sense. And if you’re thinking of coming to New Zealand, make sure you plan to get up there. It’s an incredible place that’s not to be missed.