Tapotupotu and Spirits Bay are close to Rerenga Wairua and provide good surfing with the right conditions.
At Tapotupotu surf on the western end at the low tide and as the tide comes in the surf breaks move along to the eastern end.
Spirits Bay also has good surfing.
Both of these places also have a campground where you can stay and surf.
Within a 30k radius there is so much to see, but sadly most people make a day trip to the cape, visiting Rerenga Wairua, the cape itself, probably Te Paki where the giant sand dunes are, the Oneroa a Tohe or 90 Mile Beach and also Tapotupotu.
However, you can also explore by car Kapo Wairua or Spirits Bay nestled between 2 pa, or Maori forts, Te Hapua which is on the shores of the Parengarenga Harbour and is a paradise for bird lovers and Paua, where you may be able to get a kayak to kayak over to the Kokota Sandspit - the stunning white silica sands that you will see on your way up.
If hiking and camping is more your time, there are numerous walking tracks in the area.
Visit my Rerenga Wairua page for more in depth information on these places from a local!
On the 3rd December 2011, Te Araroa which is a 3000km walking trail stretching from the cape to the Bluff was opened.
While you do not have to do the whole trail, you can do parts of it from one day walks to as many days or months as you like and what better place to start then at the very top of the trail :)
Te Araroa - The Long Pathway is my travellogue for this area that I am intimately familiar with and gives you tips and pointers on what to look out for to help you prepare for - a bit like how some tour operators offer trip notes!
The west cost decided it didn't want to be left out - it has a 'Hole in the Rock' too! Matapia Island is a solitary island off Ninety Mile Beach. It's notable feature is a 20 metre wide tunnel right through the island which can be seen from the beach.
Depending on the tide, one of the activities popular on Ninety Mile Beach is digging for pipis. Do you use a bucket and spade - no you use your feet and toes!
Pick a spot where incoming waves cover and then recede. As the water covers your feet wriggle them into the sand - you will feel the pipis under your feet. On the next wave wriggle your feet under the pipis lifting them to the surface then as the wave recedes you collect them.
Easy! just make sure you have your jeans rolled way up!
Ninety Mile Beach starts on the west coast just south of Cape Maria Van Diemen and follows the Aupouri Peninsula. It is a popular fishing spot for those with four wheel drive vehicles but although it is officially a highway, you must take care as there is little beach at high tide.
To get on to the beach from the north you drive along the bed of the Te Paki stream.
No it is not 90 miles long but about 60 miles. As the story goes - it was once used as a stock route and took three days to travel. A horse could travel 30 miles a day. Maybe the horse was slower in the sand.
On the way from Cape Reinga to Ninety Mile Beach you pass through Te Paki and the giant sand dunes. There are a few walks to do but for the more adventurous there is boogie boarding!
You use a standard boogie board and you can control the speed by treating the undersurface with wax.
Boogie boards are supplied by the Dunerider group and there is a range of speeds from fast to slow. You get a lesson - don't put your hands out, pull up the front of your board, use your toes as brakes - and off you go. The hardest part is climbing up the dune to do it again!
Cape Reinga Lighthouse is owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand. It was built in 1941 and was the last manned lighthouseto be built in New Zealand. It replaced the lighthouse on Motuopao Island near Cape Maria Van Diemen which was difficult to access. The lighthouse is now fully automated. Entry to the light is not permitted.
The walk to the lighthouse is considered an easy 10 minute walk but it is all downhill which makes quite a steep climb on the return tip. The track leaves from the visitor centre. The first photograph waiting for you is Cape Maria Van Diemen; then as you walk down the track you get glimpses of the lighthouse and views to the south east. One of the best views is 'The Meeting of the Seas' where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. The conflicting currents create a noticeable line of breakers.
Due to the spirual nature of the cape for the Mâori it is requested that you behave in a considerate manner and refrain from eating while you are there. You are allowed to carry water.
This is an amazing place even if you don't like history.
Imagine hundreds and thousands of years ago a cataclysmic event knocked down all the Kauri trees. They were then buried and preserved. Kauir trees produce sap if they sustain any damage and this hardens and falls off becoming buried in the leaf litter. The sap or gum became semi-petrified and the Mâori found uses for it including chesing and lighting fires. It became valuble to Europeans as an ingredient in good quality varnish. As the surface supply ran out people started digging for it - hence the name Gumdigger.
As the tale is told - the Gumdiggers used to wear Wellington Boots and they soon took the name Gum Boots as they are known in New Zealand and Australia.
Gumdigger Park has buried trees, a Gumdigger camp, lots of information and articles of Kauri wood and petrified resin (Copal or Kiwi Amber) for sale.
This is your chance to help the regeneration of native plants at Rerenga Wairua, leave a living legacy of your trip there and offset your carbon footprint and in one go!
As well as planting your tree, you will receive a certificate with the GPS co-ordinates of where your tree is planted.
You need to arrange this before you reach the cape, as the plant has to be taken from the nursery to the cape and a spot chosen.
To arrange this amazing opportunity, visit the website below.
NOTE: EFTPOS facilities are not available!
Just before the lighthouse you'll find the northern most mailbox in the country. Cards posted here receive a special Cape Reinga postal mark (see second picture).
Don't forget to buy cards and stamps beforehand and bring them, there are no shops at the Cape.
This place shows the history of the gum diggers and the kauri forest. There's a gumdiggers hut and holes where kauri trees are buried and gum was dugged up. There's a shop where you can buy products and the walk around the park is really nice.
Except for enjoying the great view, you can do several walks from this place. You can walk to Cape maria from Diemen along Te Werahi Beach, it's 5 hours return. There's a two hour walk to Tapotupotu Bay, east of Cape Reinga. From there you can walk to Kapowairua at the eastern end of Spirits Bay in 8 hours.
It is always fun to drive along the beach but check with your insurance company and be very careful not only about the tides but also other vehicles and also beach goers. You drive along the beach you will come across warning signs of the hazards of driving on the sands, vehicles buried in sands up to the roof.
A short drive down some pretty steep gravel road from Cape Reinga you will find Tapotupotu Bay . Their is a nice grassy park area with good toilet facility for you to rest , have lunch and go for a swim. If it has been raining, I imagine it will be quite a challenge getting up to the main road from the bay, so be careful.