Steeped in Māori mythology and World Heritage prestige, Cape Reinga, literally means ‘the leaping place of spirits’, it blesses the northern end of New Zealand with a remote but majestic awe. Sprawling and beautiful, the Tasman Sea collides with the Pacific Ocean at its northernmost point, a clash of waters that the Māori refer to as the meeting of Te Moana-a-Rehua, literally the meeting of the man-sea and the woman-sea.
Part of our Ultimate New Zealand itinerary, you’ll be given the chance to explore this hidden gem during your voyage’s 30-day journey. Here, we’ll guide you through the storied history of this sacred, serene part of the country.
Almost pristine in its idyllic beauty, Cape Reinga’s known history starts in the 17th century, when European settlers made their way to the island. Previously occupied by the native Māori, the arrival of trading and whaling vessels in the late 18th century welcomed a previously unheard of European impact. Despite an attempt by missionaries to convert them to Christianity over the following century, the prominent Māori influence has remained steadfast century after century.
The Māori people believe strongly in the spiritual significance of Cape Reinga. Marked by an ancient pohutukawa tree, mythology states that spirits of the dead, on their way to the afterlife, climb the roots of the tree, and descend into the underworld to their traditional homeland of Hawaiki. At Cape Reinga, they depart the mainland, briefly turning to view Three Kings Island – their final look back towards the land – before continuing on with their journey.
Additionally, a spring in the hillside also played a significant role in historical Māori ceremonial burials. Known as Te Waiora-a-Tāne, literally the ‘living waters of Tāne’, they represent a cleansing of the spirits, used in burial rites across New Zealand.
At times majestic, at times almost solemn, Cape Reinga is a peninsular which inspires any different feelings. The churning swell of the Pacific Ocean meets the foam and fury of the Tasman Sea. When empty, only the solitary pohutukawa tree and the departing spirits are witness to it, but the Te Paki sand dunes afford a view of the vast waters colliding magnificently.
Popular amongst locals and tourists alike, the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, one of New Zealand’s most iconic landmarks, cuts a quaint yet impressive figure, standing on the edge of a steep cape since 1941. The last manned lighthouse to be built in New Zealand after it moved from nearby Motuopao Island when treacherous waters made it inaccessible.
Close by, 90 Mile Beach, featured in the popular TV show Top Gear in 2013, affords sprawling sand dunes of untold spectacle. Resembling a picturesque desert landscape, tourists can cruise its white sands by bus, experiencing the vast expanse while the Tasman Sea gently billows at your side.
Scenic’s Ultimate New Zealand itinerary is a veritable treat for the seasoned traveller. In addition to Cape Reinga, you’ll also take in beloved, iconic Queenstown, the mystery of the Te Anau Caves, famous movie locations and beautiful botanical gardens during your time here.
Awed by the spirituality and natural spectacle of Cape Reinga? Our Ultimate New Zealand itinerary is yours to discover, for more on this incredible part of the world, click here, or for booking information, call our helpful sales team on 0808 274 1366.