No vacation to the North Island of New Zealand is complete without a day trip to Cape Reinga. Located at the northern end of the North Island, Cape Reinga gives you the rare opportunity to see two large bodies of ocean water collide with one another.
This is the point where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet. And the lucky spectators here can witness the two currents fighting and pushing their way towards one another. The waves seeming to dance and sway to a rhythm that becomes almost hypnotising to watch.
The show before you becomes more and more intoxicating when you realize the two bodies of water are being presented in two different colors, and as they continue to sawy and meet one another while never actually fully mixing. They more so push and pull at each other until they glide right back to their chosen side. What a sight to see!
Roughly 420 kilometers from Auckland, Cape Reinga is the farthest north visitors can get on New Zealand’s North Island. It isn’t actually the most northern point of the island but the most northern point isn’t open to the public. So, since it’s the most accessible, Cape Reinga is considered “The Top of New Zealand”.
Upon your arrival to Cape Reinga you’ll have much more to see and learn about beyond the breathtaking free show the ocean provides below The Top of New Zealand. This area is also heavily intertwined in Māori culture. Cape Reinga has deep spiritual importance to the Māori people of New Zealand. It is said that when a Māori person passes, their spirit will come to this northern location, jump to the waters below, and return to their homeland of Hawaiki.
As you walk the grounds of Cape Reinga you’ll discover markers that explain the significance of this land to the Māori people. These markers act as a guide and they help to tell the Māori’s story to all visitors. It is important to remember that since this is sacred land no eating or picnicking is allowed at Cape Reinga.
One of the easiest things to spot at Cape Reinga, besides the gorgeous view, is the Cape Reinga lighthouse. The lighthouse itself was built in 1941 and became fully automated in 1987. There is no public access allowed inside the lighthouse but it can be viewed from below and is one of the most recognized and photographed lighthouses in New Zealand.
Standing tall, beside the lighthouse is a fun location marker listing international cities all over the world and their distance from the lighthouse itself. It’s bright yellow color gives it such a stark and stand out presence from the sheer whiteness of the lighthouse and the the cool ocean blue below it. I personally enjoyed reading all the far and near cities on the marker. I quickly spotted Los Angeles and took a mental note that I was 10,479 km away from home…or roughly 6,511 miles!
It’s a short walk from the car park to the lighthouse with views that will literally take your breath away! Once your reach the lighthouse this is also your opportunity to sit and become mesmerized with the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea dancing below you. Don’t forget to take some pictures and bask in the glory of reaching The Top of New Zealand.
Things To Know Before You Go
Because of the beautiful and all natural landscape, Cape Reinga can be a very popular tourist destination… so don’t let its remoteness, at The Top of New Zealand, confuse you. You should plan to get here early or arrive late in the day to eliminate bumping into swarms of tourists on your visit. There are clear and visible paved trails to access to and around the lighthouse. There are also more day hiking and beach trails in the area, so if you have more time feel free to explore.
Cape Reinga is a great day trip for many reasons, but the main reason is because of the limited overnight resources around it. Most people stay in Bay of Islands the night before they head to Cape Reinga. There are also a variety of tour companies that will take you to Cape Reinga for the day. A quick google search can help you located the perfect tour!
Tips and Additional Ideas for Your Day Trip
- Drive on 90 Mile Beach.
- Test out your Sandboarding Skills.
- Stay in KeriKeri before you hit up Cape Reinga.
- Camping option for your visit.
- Just in case you needed a little convincing to visit!
See you at The Top of New Zealand…Adventure Awaits!