As promised, a post on Cape Reinga. After our gallivanting on the beach (and then both Facetiming our parents and filling up the van with fresh water), it was already 3pm by the time we set off north to Cape Reinga, the north tip of New Zealand and the main objective of our road trip. We had about 140km to go and needed to stock up on fuel and food, knowing there would be very little in way of amenities once we were all the way up there.
The afternoon sun was casting a lovely light on the hillsides and it had actually worked in our favour to leave as late as we had because we reached the Cape just as the crowds were thinning and the sun was slowly setting over the western hillsides. The drive up was also stunning and we were both a little sad that we didn’t get to enjoy those roads on our bikes (some extreme climbs but also what would’ve been some amazing downhill coasting). It would’ve probably been about a 21-28 day trip all the way north from Auckland and back so we’re happy we’ve cut that down substantially with the camper van and seen a lot more than we would have otherwise.
A little history on Cape Reinga: it isn’t actually the northernmost point of New Zealand, but it is the most accessible most northern point (there is a view of the most northern point from the cape and it is a similar barren cliffside jutting out just a little further than the lighthouse does). Cape Reinga is very significant spiritually for the Maori people though, and the Maori name for it is Te Rerenga Warua. As a sacred spot, no eating or drinking is allowed, and the belief is that Te Rerenga Warua is the place where the spirits of dead Maori depart to return to their ancestra homeland across the ocean in Hawiiki, the original home of all Polynesian peoples.
It is also a remarkable place to watch the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean come together:
Hard to capture with a camera, but pretty epic to just stare out at for a while. There was a lovely hike down to the lighthouse
and lots of great spots for pictures and selfies, as well as lots of informational signs explaining the flora and fauna, and the historical significance of certain spots.
There was also a signpost next to the lighthouse that told us we were 11, 222 km from Vancouver. And only 6,211km from the South Pole which blew my mind (and that is even the furthest possible in New Zealand from the South Pole!)
Just as the light was fading, we hiked over the hillside and back up the path to the car park, making sure to steal glances behind us not to miss any viewpoint we hadn’t noticed on the way down. I knew Cape Reinga was a must-see spot, but I didn’t know it was going to be as stunning as it was. The epic nature, sheer beauty and size of the landscape makes you feel almost insignificant, and there is something about the spiritual significance of the place that makes you contemplate life, death and everything in between. And it was with a heavy heart, sad to leave such a beautiful spot, that we headed back to the camper van and to our camping spot for the night at Tapotupotu Bay, just 6km away but largely down a pretty steep gravel road. We arrived just as the light in the sky faded and agreed it had been a pretty amazing day.
Musician, teacher, traveller. Currently on a year-long journey around the world. Bronwyn is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com.