Cape Reinga sits at the northern end of the Aupouri Peninsula, marking the tip of the Northland district. It’s is a significant site for New Zealand Maori: known as Te Rerenga Wairua, Maori folklore says that thewairua (spirits) of the dead gather at the head of the cape before they are carried back to their homeland, Hawaiki. The ancient pohutukawa at the edge of the cape marks the gateway to the underworld.
Cape Reinga is a popular sightseeing location, with its lighthouse and quirky set of signs next to it, indicating the distance to significant cities all over the globe. Several nature walks branch out from the cape, and there are campsites and beaches nearby, some accessible only by foot or boat. Hikers looking for a multi-day walk can try the Te Paki Coastal Track, a low-intensity trail with plenty of camping options. Northland sightseeing tours often visit the spot as part of their itinerary, typically paired with a stop at nearby 90 Mile Beach.
Things to Know Before You Go
Visitor facilities and parking are provided at the opening to the Cape’s Lighthouse Walk.
Cape Reinga sits on the edge of Te Paki Recreation Reserve, where you can spot native birds and plants and ride down sand dunes.
Look out for the rare flax snail, or pūpūharakeke, which is found only in small patches of Cape Reinga and Te Paki Reserve.
Cape Reinga is a long way from the shops, so be sure to bring everything you’ll need for a day out, including sunscreen, insect repellent, food, and water.
The main Cape Reinga track is accessible for wheelchair users, although other tracks in the area may not be.
How to Get There
Cape Reinga is approximately 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Kaitaia via State Highway 1; the drive typically takes about 90 minutes. If you’re pressed for time and money is no object, there are also charter flights available from various Northland airstrips.
When to Get There
It’s always a good time to visit Cape Reinga, as Northland is known for having warm, summery weather year-round. To avoid the crowds that typically flood the area around Christmas and New Year’s, consider going in early December or late January/early February—the sun should still be high and the crowds will have thinned out.
Where to Eat Near the Cape
Tikanga Māori (Maori custom) requests that visitors refrain from eating or drinking at the headland as a mark of respect for the dead passing through. That said, you can picnic at nearby spots such as Te Werahi Beach and Tapotupotu Bay. Otherwise, you can drive roughly an hour south to Pukenui, which has a couple of cafés.