October 13, 2023 Cape Reinga (Day 16)

Another long day for us today. A drive to almost the northernmost point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga.

Our route, no detours until we reach the lighthouse!

A VERY winding road took us through farmland and small towns. We stopped for coffee and a meat pie (best fast food around!!) and made it to the Cape. A light rain fell as we approached, then cleared to beautiful almost cloudless blue sky, matched with a more vivid deep blue of the Tasman sea on our left and the Pacific ocean on our right! The rough water below the lighthouse is where the two bodies of water meet, usually turbulently!

The lighthouse, looking out towards the Three Kings islands in the distance.

The Three Kings islands, know as Manawatawhi (panting breath) to the Maori, it is a protected group of 13, now uninhabited, islands that since 1930 have been protected as a sanctuary for endemic species, “New Zealand’s wildlife jewels”.

To our left we look towards Motuopau island where the old lighthouse stood, past the huge shifting sand dunes.

Now a very protected nature reserve, it can be visited only by DOC (Dept. of Conservation) staff, iwi (tribal people) and researchers.

To our right is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand, Te Rerenga Wairua. “It is here that after death, all Māori spirits travel up the coast and over the wind-swept vista to the pohutukawa tree” where “They descend into the underworld (reinga) by sliding down a root into the sea below. The spirits then travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands where they climb out onto Ohaua, the highest point of the islands and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-A-Nui.”

You can just make out the ancient tree on what looks like the top of the middle cone of volcanic rock.

At the lighthouse a signpost lets you know how far away you are from many places!

We are closer to the south pole than we are to Los Angeles, in the opposite direction! We are also only 1452 km, about 902 miles, from Bluff where we will meet John and Martha in Jan. 2024!

Contemplating life and …

We headed back down the peninsula, exploring gravel roads as we went. We stopped for lunch at Tapotupotu (low-lying) campground on a beautiful bay on the Pacific side.

Another stop was on the Tasman sea side of the peninsula, at Te Paki creek, to see the huge sand dunes!At Kapowairua (Spirit Bay) campground, we walked on the beach in the wind and watched (wild?) horses grazing on the hillsides.At the high water mark the sand is mixed with crushed seashells of all colors and sizes!

And finally we reached the south end of 90 mile beach, which starts way up at the Te Paki sand dunes!

It’s not 90 miles long, only 88km or 55 miles. Sometimes used as a highway if the main road, Hwy 1, is closed due to flooding or landslides. Mostly used for tourist buses traveling to Cape Reinga from Bay of Islands. We didn’t drive on it due to shifting sands and not knowing the tide schedule!

We got home right at dark, our longest day out yet!

2 Responses to “October 13, 2023 Cape Reinga (Day 16)”

  1. Lori R Says:

    I still just can’t get over how beautiful it is there. And look at all those seashells!!!

  2. Sam Says:

    What a fabulous day!

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