The Cape Reinga is one of the most famous places, and one of the most popular in New Zealand. Each year, it receives more and more visitors, attracted by this sacred land for Maori, but also for the superb view that the place offers.
The Cape Reinga is known as the most northern point of New Zealand, but it is not entirely true. Actually, it's a science reserve located a few kilometers away, closed to the public. But hey, we're not going to quibble for a few kilometers !
After passing Kaitaia, the last inhabited center for the next 100 kilometers, we drive on a tarmac road and perfectly maintained. No need for a specific vehicle to get to Cape Reinga, it's a good thing, even if we don't doubt the capabilities of our dear Octopus !
It's better to refuel at Kaitaia rather than waiting for the last gas station possible : it's likely that it is dry and therefore closed. Plan well for the round trip to avoid breaking down !
The road leads to a fairly large car park where we are docked by seagulls who claim our bread. Besides, if you want to eat or drink something, this is the last point to do it. As soon as you leave the car park to head for Cape Reinga, it will not be possible. This is part of Tikanga, "the customs," Maori. We don't eat and we don't drink on the sacred land of Cape Reinga..
Just arrived, we feel that the place is special, it reigns an atmosphere almost mystical, that everyone seems to feel. It starts as soon as you go under the gateway that acts as an entry point. The wind blowing through the woods of the ceiling seems to create a melody coming from nowhere. Maybe the spirits ?
Follow the path of the spirits at Cape Reinga :
According to Maori mythology, it is here, in Cape Reinga, that the spirits of the dead come to join the hereafter. By the way, did you know that its other name is Te Rerenga Wairua « the place of the great jumping departure of spirits » ?
Looking further, you will see a tree leaning in the air, it's an 800 year old Pohutukawa. Spirits jump from this point to Hawaiki, the mythical island where the peoples of Polynesia locate their origin using Te Ara Wourua "the path of the spirits".
When we arrive at the tip, we can also see 3 islands that are called the Three King Islands, it is here that the spirits make a stop to look one last time the coast before continuing their way.
Make a sign, you never know, maybe one of them will turn around at this moment !
We didn't see them, but there are also two sources in the hills, the first is called Te Waiora in Tane « the living waters of the goddess Tane » and still plays an important role in Maori burial practices. It allows to "cleanse" the spirit of the deceased, and thus to allow the spiritual renewal of the soul.
The second source of the name of Te Wai Whero o Rata allows the spirits who drink of its water to go into the spirit world, in the other case, they return to the land of the living.
When you know this, there is nothing surprising to feel such a force of the place. We enjoy the chance to visit such a place, all cultures do not allow that we visit their sacred places.
Cape Reinga, a meeting between sea and ocean :
As if all this mystical universe was not enough, the place has another peculiarity. You can see the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean at the same time.
Indeed, it is exactly at this point that the sea and the ocean meet, and this gives an unforgettable view. But even if it makes you want to dive in these waters, forget it ; the currents don't forgive ! By being attentive, you can guess the power of these waters just by looking at them. They seem to push each other.
From what we have been told, the blue-green water is the Tasmanian Sea, while the blue-gray water is the Pacific Oceans. But it's not always easy to differentiate them. And for good reason, during our walk, the weather has only oscillated between sunny, cloudy and windy, completely transforming the landscapes and colors around us. We let you imagine the show that it's for the waters ! And when we looked at the pictures, we had the impression not to have taken them the same day.
Cape Reinga, a walk not to be missed :
Despite its high rate of visitors, the Cape Reinga is often set aside by tourists for the benefit of others like Rotorua for example.
Read also : Rotorua, geothermal city of New Zealand. (Coming soon!)
This is often due to lack of time, but also admit it by laziness. What we can understand, when you have driven miles and miles, you don't necessarily want to do more to go all the North.
However, we can only recommend you not to miss it! We started our road trip as far north as possible, so we were not faced with this dilemma, so it may be a good solution.
Read also : Road trip in the North Island of New Zealand : our itinerary. (Coming soon!)
The walk offered by the place is beautiful and very easy since the path is hard and landscaped. On the return, it goes up a little more, but nothing impossible, especially when you have time to admire the surroundings.
In addition to the fact that the Cape Reinga has a great wealth of fauna and flora, it's also its lighthouse that makes its popularity. Visible from a distance, it sits at the end of the runway, overlooking the sea and the ocean. It has been in operation since 1941, although in recent years it has been automated with solar panels !
Take the time to take a look at the signs that indicate the directions of the major cities of the world. It's miles to home !
Tapotupotu Bay, our crush :
The Cape Reinga has made our eyes full, and we didn't regret for a moment the visit, so when on the way back, we saw a discreet little sign indicating Tapotupotu Bay, we don't know why but we decided to go by curiosity.
And there, at the turn of a bend, we are surprised to see a beautiful beach surrounded by greenery. We have a crush at once, and when we see that we can sleep on site with our van, we settle without hesitation !
Tapotupotu Bay is one of those places that are very quiet out of season, at first there was only us, then a camper and two other cars joined us the next day.
You can stay in a tent, car, van, etc. The point is to leave the place clean of course. But a little commission is asked too. You have to slip a sum into a kind of big mailbox that goes to the conservation of the place.
Nobody will check, even if Rangers pass from time to time to make sure that everything is fine and that the place is respected.
There are also toilets and showers on site, but expect cold water!
There are also several taps, with a reminder panel that it is recommended to boil the water before consuming it.
In short, everything is thought to have a good time !
The area is also full of small treks to go from one hour to almost the day. Be careful though, some may be stuck with high tide (personal experience, hello).
To be honest, we had to stay overnight, which turned into two and then three. The place is extremely refreshing, we can only enjoy. We could even see the place under stormy weather, and it was worth it !
Ninety Mile Beach, a beach as far as the eye can see :
Ninety Mile Beach is a beach that is 90km (but 56 miles in reality), and we don't see the end ! We had heard a lot of course about this place, so we went for a look, but we did not really hang on. It must be said that it was raining and that the wind was strong. Not the best conditions to enjoy a beach. However, in summer, it must be much more enjoyable.
Practical information :
How to get to Cape Reinga ? : The simplest is to have your own vehicle, the road is safe and solid so no worries. It is also possible to go by bus via sightseeing excursions from Auckland.
How long does it take to get to Cape Reinga ? : From Auckland it takes 4h45-5h. t is best not to hit the road at once and stop as we did.
What is the best season to visit Cape Reinga ? Summer or winter are equal. The place is beautiful in both cases ! We went out of season so in winter, and we didn't have rain, only wind. And there was a lot less people than there can be in summer. The best is to watch the weather to at least avoid the rain !
Where to sleep in Cape Reinga ? : You can't sleep in Cape Reinga itself, including in the parking. We can only recommend the small beach of Tapotupotu Bay, which you will find down the road if you have something to camp.
How much does the entrance to Cape Reinga cost ? : The entrance is completely free.
To conclude this article on the Cape Reinga, a video of 30 seconds to convince you of the beauty of the place if we haven't managed to convince you !
- So, want to be "dépayser" in Cape Reinga ? The prices shown are the ones we had, you may encounter a difference (good or bad!) but at least it gives you an idea.