Located at the northern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, Cape Reinga is a wildly beautiful region and also a place steeped in Maori tradition: the perfect destination for experiencing the real New Zealand. It’s also extremely remote; over 100km north of the nearest small town, and the meeting point of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
There are a whole host of amazing things to do in Cape Reinga, and you can visit this very special destination as part of our magnificent tour of New Zealand. Read on to find out more about Cape Reinga’s several attractions and why you should visit this outstandingly beautiful part of the country. You’ll never be stuck wandering what to do in Cape Reinga!
The Cape Reinga Lighthouse
An iconic New Zealand landmark, the Cape Reinga Lighthouse is a spot not to be missed during your visit. This impressive lighthouse was constructed in 1941, and was the last manned lighthouse built in New Zealand, manned until 1987 – it is now operated remotely.
Surrounded by the beauty of the cape, with signs with distances to far-flung cities such as London and Tokyo crowning the lighthouse, this is a great spot for a photo. It’s also an excellent vantage point and a wonderful place to watch the sunrise or sunset.
Stunning sandy beaches
Cape Reinga’s remote and unspoilt location means it’s home to some truly incredible beaches. Ninety Mile Beach is perhaps the most famous, and is unusually a public highway at low tide. At the northern edge you’ll also find the spectacular Te Paki sand dunes, a popular spot for sand-boarding.
You’ll also find some more hidden beaches and coves along Cape Reinga, from the tiny cove of Tapotupotu Bay to the white silica sand of Rarawa Beach and the hidden gem of Kaimaumau Beach.
Maori culture, legends and traditions
Cape Reinga is an extremely important place in the Maori culture, due to the sacred role it plays in the life and death cycle, and visiting is one one of the best ways to discover the Maori culture and traditions.
When Maori people die, their spirits return to Hawaiki, the underworld where they are born, to once again begin the cycle of life. Their spirit makes a journey through Cape Reinga to the northernmost point, where it plunges into the deep waters, ready for the cycle to start again once more.
Along the way, it travels past a number of sacred sites, including the Waipoua Forest, home to the ancient kauri tree Tane Mahuta, and the tip of Cape Reinga itself. This is where the spirit slides down Te Aka, the root of a wizened pohutukawa tree believed to be 800 years old, plunges into the current and resurfaces on Manawatawhi, one of the Three Kings Islands set off the shore, rising to the island’s highest point before descending back beneath the water’s surface.
Breath-taking coastal hikes
Wrapping its way around the coastline of Cape Reinga and beyond is the Te Paki Coastal Track, one of the best coastal footpaths you’ll find anywhere in the world. Starting from Spirits Bay, this 48km-long track takes you all the way around the Cape to the Te Paki Stream and sand dunes.
It’s a track that can be challenging in places, but you’ll be rewarding with the most spectacular coastal views.
Discover everything Cape Reinga has to offer
If Cape Reinga is on your travel wishlist, a Cape Reinga tour is one of the best ways to discover all the area has to offer. As part of our tour, you’ll be able to visit Cape Reinga on an optional excursion, and you’ll be able to experience the beauty of Cape Reinga both on land and in the air.
You’ll also be able to see the Cape and spectacular North Island landscapes from above on an unforgettable 45-minute flight, operated by Saltair. Along the way, you’ll pass the stunning Whangaroa and Rangaunu Harbours, as well as the mesmerising Coopers Beach, Doubtless Beach and Ninety Mile Beach. It also passes spots which can only be seen from the air: Parengarenga Harbour and Great Exhibition Bay.
Once you’ve landed, a comfortable minibus will give you a 2½ hour tour around Cape Reinga and beyond, taking in the lighthouse, Tepotupotu Bay and the Te Paki Stream, where you can have a go at sandboarding down the massive sand dunes. After your adventure around the coast, you’ll once again take flight for your scenic return to the Bay of Islands.
This tour truly brings visitors the highlights of Cape Reinga and the northern reaches of North Island, and is not to be missed for anyone seeking incredible coastal sights and a glimpse into Maori culture.