Cape Reinga, located at the northernmost tip of the Aupouri Peninsula, on the North Island of New Zealand, Cape Reinga is a remote, but incredibly scenic location around 100 kilometres north of the nearest small town of Kaitaia. The cape is generally regarded as the divided point between the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. From the lighthouse located at the point of the cape, it is possible to see the, “tidal race,” or the point at which the two seas clash creating an area of rough and unsettled water.
Presently, Cape Reinga is on the tentative list of locations waiting to receive UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
The cape receives around 120,000 visitors each year, with this number increasing by about five percent each year.
Cape Reinga has a very mild climate with a lot of precipitation and very little difference in weather from season to season.
What to Do – Cape Reinga
Cape Reinga: Hiking Cape Reinga is home to some wonderful hiking tracks ranging from difficult multi day backpacking hikes to easier, one-day trips. The two renowned track running through the region are listed below:
1) Te Paki Coastal Track: This track is 48 kilometres one-way and will take around 3-4 days of walking and camping, on average. While the track is long, it is a relatively easy walk. However, there are portions of the track where tramping is necessary.
The trail wanders through a variety of beautiful and unique landforms and provides hikers with wonderful views of the region. The trail runs along the coastline, starting in Kapowairua (Spirits Bay) on the northeastern coast, past Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) and Cape Maria van Dieman, and finishes at Te Paki Stream on the west coast of the region. From there, if you so desire, you can continue along 90 Mile Beach all the way to Ahipara.
Should you not be up for the whole 48 kilometre track, it is possible to hike sections of the trail. The sections range in duration from around 45 minutes to several hours.
Those wishing to walk the whole track can stay at any one of the three campsites, the Pandora Campsite, the Tapotupotu Campsite, and the Twilight Campsite, along the track.
2) Te Araroa: Described as, “New Zealand’s Trail,” Te Araroa is a 3,000-kilometre adventure that runs the length of the country.
It starts at Cape Reinga in the north and runs all the way to Bluff in the south. The track opened in 2011 and was made up of a mixture of existing tracks, new tracks and link sections along existing roadways.
While many people will only hike sections of the trail, or will attempt to hike the length of it over the course of multiple excursions, those hoping to traverse it all in one go should set around anywhere from three to six months, depending on how frequently and for how long you want to stop along the way, to complete the journey. The trail has around 300 sections, that take 1-2 hours to complete.
There is also a nine-day route on the South Island that requires hikers to carry full camping equipment. 40% of the trail passes through conservation land.
While the trail is free to use, the Te Araroa suggests a donation of NZ$500 per person walking the trail for those wishing to walk the whole length, NZ$250 for those only planning to walk the distance of one of the islands, and smaller amounts for more specific tracks and distances.
There is more to Cape Reinga than just hiking. Visitors will enjoy walking up to the lighthouse where they will be treated with a truly stunning view and an excellent place for photographs. It is from this vantage point that visitors will get the best view of the clash between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Additionally, at the very northernmost tip of the cape visitors can see a pohutukawa tree that is believed to be over 800 years old. The tree is the subject of a Maori tale that says the spirits of deceased Maori leap from the tree into the ocean to return to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
Not too far away is the expanse of 90 Mile Beach. While its name is a mystery, as it is not actually 90 miles, it is a beautiful stretch of coastline that is also an official New Zealand highway with a top speed limit of 100 km/hr. There are also a number of tours available around the Cape Reinga region that allow visitors to experience the beautiful natural scenery from a dune rider, a helicopter, and from the water.
Where to Stay – Cape Reinga
While there are limited options in the immediate proximity of Cape Reinga, there are a number of areas within the Northland Region that offer a variety of accommodation options. Visitors can find budget accommodation, luxury lodges, and everything in between in and around 90 Mile Beach, Lake Ngatu, Houhora, Pukenui, Ngataki, Te Kao, and Waitiki.
Traveling from Abroad?
Cape Reinga is not an easy place to get to even if you are travelling from within New Zealand. It is not exactly close to anywhere and as such, you have to really want to go there to pass by.
If you are travelling from abroad, your best bet is to catch a flight into Auckland, there are a number of international flights into Auckland from a variety of destinations, and go on a great New Zealand road-trip.