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BUG New Zealand travel guidebook

Destination guides > Pacific Islands > New Zealand > Northland > The Far North > Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga is as far north is New Zealand as you can go (although it is not the northernmost point; North Cape is, but that is a scientific reserve closed to the public). It has a true end-of-the-road feel, as the land tapers away and yields to unbroken sea. Here, by its iconic lighthouse, you can actually see the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet, their waters visibly churning together and merging in a tidal race.

You can instantly feel the power that Maori ascribe to this place. They traditionally believe it is the place where spirits of the dead leave this world for the underworld (Reinga means “underworld”, and Maori call the Cape Te Rerenga Wairua, the “leaping-place of the spirits”). The final departure point is said to be from an 800 year-old pohutukawa tree that juts out from the cliffs beneath the lighthouse. A sense of decorum and respect is expected of visitors here.

The closest facilities to Cape Reinga are at Waitiki Landing, 21km of unsealed road away, a tiny outpost with a small market, some accommodation and a service station with an unreliable supply of fuel. Making the drive yourself can be a dramatic way to approach the Cape, but caution is advised on the winding gravel roads; it’s easier to slide off the road or flip a car than you might think.

In addition to the rewarding sense of accomplishment of reaching Cape Reinga, there are some good hiking trails around that offer spectacular coastal views. This is one of New Zealand’s special places.

Hostel accommodation

Waitiki Landing

Far North Road, Waitiki Landing (21km south of Cape Reinga)
Tel (09) 409 7508

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