Cape Reinga Photo Album
While in Northland for our summer holiday over the Christmas-New Year break, we decided to head to the northern-most tip of New Zealand. Cape Reinga is a bit of a tourist hotspot but is one of those places you really have to see.
From Auckland it's about a six hour drive north. Fortunately, we were already in the far north and only about 45 minutes away. The roads are narrow and windy on the way and many of the bridges are one-lane, so you stop to let oncoming traffic pass first. This is State Highway One but we're in New Zealand after all.
It's December 30. Clear skies and about 27 degrees Celsius by 10am with that fierce, scorching New Zealand sun. A brilliant Northland summer day and the sunshine on the white sands at Parengarenga is luminous, even in the distance.
How did the world ever function before air-conditioning in cars?
For Maori, Cape Reinga or Te Rerenga Wairua (The Spirit of Life) is one of the most spiritually and culturally significant places in the country.
The spirits of the dead are said to travel northwards up the coast so that they may depart for the afterlife in the homeland of the ancestors from an ancient pohutukawa tree at the foot of the headland. They follow the roots of the tree into the underworld (reinga) and from there travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands for their departure to Hawaiiki-A-Nui.
If you're visiting Cape Reinga, remember that the whole reserve from the carpark to the water is tapu (sacred) land so if you need to eat or drink, do it in the carpark.
The lighthouse at the cape is truly an icon of New Zealand. God only knows how many biscuit tins, tea-towels and post cards have carried its image over the past three quarters of a century since it was was built in1941. Its a piece of classic kiwiana up there with the Buzzy Bee.