Cape Reinga is popularly regarded as the country's northernmost point but in fact the Surville Cliffs (formerly: Kerr Point) on North Cape at the eastern tip of the land up there are almost five kilometres further north.
As Cape Reinga is better accessible and surrounded by the old Maori legend of the spirits heading back home it has become the focus of interest in the Far North. So all the tourists head to the lighthouse and the sign-post with the distances to major destinations of the world.
Cape Reinga and North Cape are at the end of Aupori Peninsula, called Te Hika o te Ika (Fish Tail) by Maori. The name refers to the legend of Maui who pulled the fish - the North Island - from the sea while sitting in his canoe - the South Island.
The spiritual trip of the Maori souls starts with sliding down on the roots of a 800 year old pohutukawa into the ocean. Then they reappear and climb Ohaua, the highest of the Three Kings Islands, to give their last farewell before returning to their ancestors in Hawaiki. The souls travel to Cape Reinga along the Ninety Mile Beach.
You might be surprised about the lack of infrastructure at the northern tip of the country. Not even SH1 is fully sealed, and you will not find a lot of places for shopping on the way. As most tourists head to the Cape without stopping accommodation is rather cheap.
From the lighthouse (157 metres above sea level) you have wonderful views over the cliffs and the seas. Yes, seas. If you have a close look you see how the waters of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet west of the lighthouse.
From the carpark you can go on several impressive walks, to Te Werahi Beach (1hr return), or eastwards with views towards Sandy Bay (1hr return) and further on to Tapotupotu Bay (4hrs return).
The latter can also be reached by car/bus. In fact most tour buses stop there for lunch. Swimming is not safe, due to dangerous currents.
If you have time you can consider the three-day Cape Reinga Coastal Walk (134km). Tour buses can drop you off and pick you up.
(not really) New Zealand’s most northerly point with a lighthouse and the famous signpost with the distances to a couple of cities far away.
Wonderful view over both Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean and Columbia bank where both waters meet each other. And far far away The Three Kings Islands.
If you are travelling by car, try to be here before all the tour buses are arriving and the quietness is disturbed by lots of tourist, making noise and pictures. We arrived at 11.00 am and we counted exactly five cars on the car park !!
Cape Reinga is signposted in Kaitaia and you have to drive 110km through a very scenic road with great views both right and left. Waitiki Landing is the last place for a coffee for yourself and petrol for your car. The last 21 km's to Cape Reinga is a gravel road, so you will have more time to look around and enjoy the impressive scenery.
Lovely view on Te Werahi Beach, Cape Maria van Diemen and Motuopao Island. Near the parking lot is a trail that goes off to the West, about two miles long down to this large mostly empty beach. The beach itself is amazing.
Cape Maria van Diemen is called after the wife of Governor-General Antonio van Diemen of the Dutch Indies. It was Abel Tasman, a Dutchman, who discovered New Zealand in 1642.
Cape Reinga is technically not the most northerly point of New Zealand. That honour belongs to nearby Surville Cliffs. But the Cape is usually regarded as such as it is more easily reached (albeit up an unmade road)
Cape Reinga isn't actually the northernmost point of New Zealand, but it is as far north as most people will be able to get.
This is a greatly picturesque headland, fittingly graced by a traditional looking lighthouse, a signpost, and some impressive rocky cliffs. To top it off, the churning point where the currents of the Tasman Sea meet those of the rest of the Pacific is the backdrop and there are great views along a sweeping and deserted beach to Cape Maria Van Diemen.
From Cape Reinga, you can see the place where Maori tradition says the spirits of the dead leap from New Zealand to travel back to the mythical land of Hawaiki. If you look carefully you will see a lone Pohutukawa tree on that point - it is over 700 years old and very tapu (sacred).
The place where two oceans collide (Tasman and Pacific) and according to Maori legend the place where the souls of the dead leap into the underworld. At the very tip of the North Island it can be done as part of a Ninety Mile Beach tiki tour or as a leisurely drive from Kaitaia. Make sure to send a postcard from the most Northern Post Office while you're here
From the tip of Cape Reinga there are great views of the cliffs and out to sea.
This is a sacred spot for Maoris, who believe it is the departure point for the souls of the recently deceased.
A close up view of the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. From here there are great views of the surrounding coast, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.
At the end of Cape Reinga stands the lighthouse itself, with the usual touristy signs of distances to everywhere else on the planet.
Maori’s believe the branches of this pohutukawa tree are departure point of their journey to the homeland of Hawaiki.