Why should I go to Cape Reinga? An honest opinion
Yes, I know! You have to drive quite a bit to get to the northernmost point of New Zealand. But in my opinion, it is worth it. When you have a bit of time on your hands, do not skip Cape Reinga. Walk to the iconic white lighthouse and see two oceans collide.
You should go to Cape Reinga because it is a magical and spiritual place at the northernmost point of New Zealand with tons of history and incredible views over the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. See how these two oceans collide and discover the place where Maori spirits begin their final journey.
Many travelers only spend a few minutes or hours at Cape Reinga, but I was there for two days. I hiked from Cape Reinga to Cape Maria van Diemen and spend the night at DOC campsite at Toputaputu Bay. The weather was amazing and I really did not want to leave this incredible place.
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5 things to do at Cape Reinga?
When you want to see it all, you definitely spend a day or two at the northern tip of New Zealand. With its stunning coastal scenery, it will warm everyone’s heart. You are probably wondering by now what you can do at this beautiful place. Here are a couple of incredible things to do:
Cape Reinga Lighthouse Walk
The one thing you have to do when you are at Cape Reinga is the Lighthouse Walk. This 1 km walk from the car park to the white lighthouse is accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Wheelchairs and buggies will roll easily on the wide and sealed walkway.
Enjoy the outstanding views and pay respect to the Maori tradition. See the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet in a foaming swell of broken water. On a clear day, you might be lucky enough to see the Three Kings Islands on the distant horizon.
It is here where the Maori believe the spirits of their loved ones will cross over to the underworld. It is needless to say that this is a deeply spiritual place for them. Please pay respect to the surroundings.
Expert Tip: It is a popular place for day visitors, so please go early in the morning before 10 am or late in the afternoon. It is the best chance to beat the crowds.
One of the most scenic and most accessible beaches in the Cape Reinga area is Toputaputu Bay. Enjoy a picnic, splash in the waves or even camp the night at the beach’s campsite.
It is a very scenic campsite, from the Department of Conservation. There is a nearby lagoon, that is suitable for swimming. The site has 45 sites, cold showers, and tap water (treat before use). It is in our opinion one of the most beautiful places to pitch your tent. Tapotupotu campsite is the perfect place to relax, enjoy and explore the great Far North.
Te Paki Coastal Trek
This amazing coastal track is a great way to start exploring the far north. You will see beautiful and unique landforms and spectacular views. Be prepared to do some ascending and descending! You can camp at DOC campsites along the way. Make sure you bring something to treat your water.
The track follows the coastline from Kapowairua (Spirits Bay) on the North-Eastern Coast, past Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) and Cape Maria van Dieman, and finishes at Te Paki Stream on the West Coast. From there, you can continue along 90 Mile Beach all the way to Ahipara.
Cape Reinga Te Paki Coastal Track
You can attempt the whole track or choose one or several track sections that suit your fitness level and areas of interest. You can find more information about the track on the website of the Department of Conservation.
Giant Sand Dunes
It is time for some action! Grab yourself a bodyboard for a few dollars at the bottom of the giant sand dunes or bring your own. Climb until your legs say ‘no’, lay on your belly on the board and you go into the unknown. Expert Tip! Keep your mouth closed. You will thank me later.
You will find the entrance to the Giant Sand Dunes 19km south of Cape Reinga off State Highway 1 down Te Paki Stream Road. There is a car park at the end for vehicles that are not suitable for driving on the sand.
You can book some great day trips by bus to Cape Reinga, 90 Mile Beach, and the Giant Sand Dunes here.
Are there public toilets at Cape Reinga?
There are public toilets at the parking lot of Cape Reinga, which are accessible for wheelchairs. The buildings are designed to be less visible on the site, that’s why they were built in the hills of the car park one kilometer from the lighthouse.
Please make sure to use the public toilets at the parking lot so the sacred environment of Cape Reinga stays clean. Do not enjoy a meal at Cape Reinga for the same spiritual reasons, but go to a nearby campsite to make lunch.
How long does it take to drive from Auckland to Cape Reinga?
It is a 400-kilometer drive from Auckland to Cape Reinga and takes about 5.5 to 6 hours. You will pass Warkworth, Whangarei, and the Bay of Islands on your way up to the far north. Take some time to discover these places while you are in the area.
Close to Warkworth, you will find many beautiful beaches, places, and events like Goat Island, Kawau Island, Tāwharanui Regional Park, and the famous Farmers Market in Matakana.
A little to the north you can go on the easy to intermediate yet very stunning Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway. It will take 2 to 3 hours to complete the hike alongside the rugged New Zealand coast with plenty of spectacular photo opportunities. After the hike, you can cool down in the ocean and do some body surfing in the giant waves. It is one of my favorite short walks in New Zealand!
In the Bay of Islands, you can get on a sailing cruise to meet dolphins and other wildlife, discover the old town of Russell. Stay one night in this lovely little village and discover the secluded Watata Bay. You can find this little bay by going to Oneroa Bay and find the small walking path in the corner of Long Beach Road. It is a short hike on a very narrow path.
Is the road to Cape Reinga sealed?
The road to Cape Reinga is now fully sealed. It is located at the top of State Highway 1 which leads all the way from Auckland to the far north. There are a parking lot and public toilets at the end of the sealed road.
The last bit of the State Highway 1 used to be gravel, but due to the increasing volume of cars and busses that head up north, it was completely sealed in 2010.
Can you stay at Cape Reinga?
There are no accommodations directly at Cape Reinga, but you can stay at Tapotupotu Campsite from the Department of Conservation, only 5 kilometers away. It is the closest place you can spend the night. A couple of kilometers east, there are two other DOC campsites, called Pandora (walk or boat access only) and Kapowairua (Spirits Bay).
Just 20 kilometers south of the Cape Reinga Parking Area, you will find the Waitiki Tourist Complex with powered sites and cabins. They also have a cafe and some dairy products.
Tekao Lodge is the first hotel-like accommodation in the far north with double and twin rooms with private bathrooms. You can use this as a base to explore Cape Reinga, the Giant Sand Dunes, and Te Kao Bay.
Where can I book a tour to Cape Reinga?
A good place to book your Cape Reinga tour is via the Viator.com website. They have a wide range of activities throughout New Zealand. The Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach Tour from the Bay of Islands is one of them. It is one of the highest-rated tours in New Zealand.
Another excellent multiday tour is the 3 Day Bay Of Islands Tour from Auckland including Waitangi and Cape Reinga or if you like a bit of adventure go for the Cape Reinga Half-Day Tour Including Scenic Flight (another high-rated tour).
Cape Reinga T-shirs for men and women
Cape Reinga Shirt for Men
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Cape Reinga Shirt for Women
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