Cape Reinga and the Far Northland

Before bed I read a blog post of one girl’s experience of Cape Reinga.  She said the road to it was desolate and isolated with no cell service and no towns to speak of.  Upon arrival she was met with hundreds of screaming kids, pushy tourists and cranky parents.  She was disappointed to see that the only thing there was a lighthouse and was quick to move on to her next spot.


It may have been no surprise then, that Saturday morning when I woke up, I had less than stellar feelings about driving two and a half hours to the farthest north point in the country.  For years I had read about Cape Reinga and been totally enthralled with seeing it, but now that the day was here, Tyler and I were both doubting the cold, desolate trip as it had been explained to us. After a few minutes of discussion, we decided you just don’t live and work this close to the tippy top only to not go all the way.  We weren’t quitters, so we grabbed our adventure pants and annied up to the day.


The drive north was fantastic.  Being both lovers of the rural places, we didn’t find the road to be desolate at all.  In fact, Tyler was wishing there wouldn’t have been so many towns distracting us from the beautiful countryside. 


As we drove, we listened to an audio book I had downloaded on my phone.  “Conscious Living” by Dr. Gay Hendrix.  Last year I read “The Big Leap” written by the same author and was blown away by the depth of his inspiration.  “Conscious Living” was also deeply inspiring from the very beginning.  We’d laugh and nudge one another as the narrator described the author’s childhood in California, how he fought to overcome obesity, feeling like a mistake and addiction to cigarettes.  Eventually an out-of-body experience showed him that he in fact, did have control over his own life and his purpose was well within his reach, all he had to do was tune in to the present moment and stay awake for the precious gift of life, rather than tuning out.


This was so our jam.  



We listened so intently that when we arrived at the Cape, I felt like we had been in the car no time at all. However, the deep psychiatric thoughts of the book had led Tyler and I into an intense discussion about our own healing paths and how that affected our relationship as a whole.  This left us both with lots to think about, which left us both in a period of silent reflection which turned out to be the best way to approach something as monumental as Cape Reinga. 


Tyler went right, I went left.  As I walked silently down the path, I was deep in my thoughts trying to untangle the thoughts and feelings rising up in me.  I was still healing and would always be healing; such is the path of living enlightened and awakened.  I made a promise to myself as a young girl that I would never allow myself to become complacent, numb or jaded about the raw essence of spirituality and pursuing a purposeful, passionate life. That meant consistently digging in to do the grunt work of healing, letting go, transforming and welcoming in new, more affirming beliefs about both myself and others.


I found myself approaching the end of the path, which, to my surprise, did not lead to the cape at all.  I had walked several hundred meters only to arrive at another entrance to the same park.  Because there was no one around, I saw it as an opportunity to sit on the stump that marked the boundaries of the path.  I looked back towards where I had walked and saw Tyler in the distance, standing on top of a very tall hill that most definitely was overlooking the Cape.  “That’s okay,” I thought, as I continued to ponder the parts of me that needed love, affection and healing. 


I was still searching for external validation in different forms.  At 28, I was no longer over-achieving and over-performing for praise and love, but now it was a new reaching, trying to prove that I was still responsible even though I was traveling.  I wanted to bring in money from my blog so I could prove that I was doing enough.


This has always been a dream of mine, but when the purpose behind the dream is fear, it won’t fly.


The goal of monetizing my blog was not a bad one, but the idea of doing it out of fear of not being enough, was not the energy I wanted to shape my words or posts I put out into the world.


I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself of how loved, safe and appreciated I am.  I appreciate myself.  I love myself.  It is safe for me to create from the depths of my truth.  After breathing this in and out for several minutes, I felt ready to walk back towards the Cape, and towards the miniature version of Tyler I saw, still standing on top of the hill.


Cape Reinga.jpg

As I walked towards the destination, I thanked God for the gift of allowing me to be in such a wonderful place.  I read several signs along the path that explained the significance of the Cape Reinga and wowie, was I moved.



Cape Reinga


Cape Reinga was first discovered by the Maori thousands of years ago.  However, the first recorded European discovery was by Abel Tasman in 1643.


Cape Reinga is considered sacred by the Maori people, as they believe the Cape is the place where their souls jump off into the ocean to return to their spiritual homeland when their time on earth is finished.  For this reason, this is considered the most sacred site in all of New Zealand.  We were not allowed to eat or drink while on site and because it was the dead of winter, there were only two other visitors, besides Tyler and I, who were also engrossed in the beauty around us.  This gave us the monumental opportunity to breathe in the sacred air while both appreciating and respecting the beauty around us. 


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The lighthouse itself has plenty of spiritual significance.  In 1928, T.W. Ratana, who founded the Ratana faith, (a popular religion for Maori people) prophesied that one day Cape Reinga would be a great light to the world. When the lighthouse was built in 1941, many saw it as Ratana’s prophecy being fulfilled.  Ratana also said he heard the sounds of the spirits of the dead as they passed over the Atua Peruperu hill and into the ocean. Because of this, millions of people around the globe have journeyed here for spiritual quests. 


The lighthouse is still in use today and is the first light sailors see when they approach New Zealand from the North. The light rotates fully every 12 seconds and is monitored remotely.  A solar panel on its side keeps the light charged continuously.

The lighthouse at Cape Reinga

The lighthouse at Cape Reinga

 Next to the Lighthouse stands a small sign pointing to a few global destinations such as Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, Sydney and the South Pole.  Each destination has the nautical knots distance as well as kilometers to the specified city. Tyler and I were fascinated by the fact that we were closer to the South Pole than we were to Los Angeles!

Cape Reinga.jpg


At the tip of the point, I looked out to see waves from the east crashing into waves from the west.  This was where the Tasman Sea met the Pacific Ocean.  What a captivating site to see.  Two oceans colliding into one another at the point considered the spiritual home for Maori people. 

Where the Tasman meets the Pacific. <3

Where the Tasman meets the Pacific. <3


While most believe the lighthouse is the northernmost point, the true most northern point is about 300 meters to the right, marked by the 800-year-old phutukawa tree that seems to define nature and gravity by surviving on the rocks, hanging over the ocean.  This site was inaccessible to tourists due to reverence.


The water near the area is sacred as well, known as cleansing water for the spirit of the dead.  The Maori call this water “Te Waiora a Tane” and believe that if the spirit drinks this water they will be carried into the spiritual world, but if they don’t, they will have to return to the physical world.  This same name is also used for the water used in funeral ceremonies all over the country.



Just north of the Cape, out in the ocean, is a group of islands called “Three Kings Islands.”  Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman discovered these islands on January 6, 1643, which was twelve days after Christmas.  This day was signified as the Feast of the Epiphany in the Christian Church. Because of this, Tasman named the islands after the biblical story of the three kings who followed a star and found the newborn baby Jesus lying in a manger.


 As you can imagine, the spiritual energy at the site was very high and Tyler and I both sat in silence, soaking it up for quite a while before returning back to Vanita.




Te Paki Sand Dunes

Just south of Cape Reinga, lie the Te Paki Sand Dunes.  These were the largest dunes I had seen and Tyler and I couldn’t wait to surf them. However, being frugal-minded, we skipped the $15 board rental and brought up a yoga mat to try instead.  Unfortunately, the mat was less than stellar so we settled for great views and some much-needed cardio instead.

Te Paki Sand Dunes.jpg
The dunes in the far northland

The dunes in the far northland


I tried diving down the hill on my stomach, with no mat, but that just made me giggle and look ridiculous.  Still, it was totally worth the try.



Gumdiggers Park

On the way back we tried to make a stop at Gumdiggers Park, which is supposed to be a cool park filled with the beloved Kauri trees. We found the spot but all we saw were “No Trespassing” signs in front of what looked like would have been a perfect parking spot for a tourist destination, had it been the summer season. We shrugged and used it as an opportunity for me to take the wheel and practice driving wacky (on the left side of the road) as we journeyed back down the coast and towards Karikari Peninsula, where we were staying.



Ninety Mile Beach

The only thing we missed was Ninety Mile Beach, which is an alternate route down the coast.  Here tourists can drive on the beach for 90 kilometers, contrary to the name. (90 kilometers is actually 55 miles and some change, but hey who’s actually going to use their Converter app to figure that out, right?) 


Multiple reasons led us to skip the risky beach drive on this trip.  For one it was raining, but it was also high-tide (a bad time to try the drive) and Vanita only had two-wheel drive, which already put us at a disadvantage. We stopped a police officer… (ha! How funny does that sound) on the way to the beach and asked if he thought it was worth us giving it a try.  He said definitely not, we’d probably get stuck.  Despite the fact that Tyler’s guide book said we could totally make it; we decided the bricks were stacked against us and opted for a safe drive home on Highway 1 instead. 




One on day we conquered the tippy-top and it was so worth it! I’m definitely glad I didn’t let another blogger’s negative experience talk me out of going.  It was perfect time to go during July.  The lack of tourists made it magical and the sun was out and 67 degrees felt oh-so-right for this unique adventure.


Next week we will be leaving Rangiputa Beach and heading back south down the coast.  This time we’re exploring the west coast down to Piha Beach, which is a black sands beach west of Auckland.  Here we will reconnect with Tyler’s friend, Mack, before catching the ferry out west to Waiheke Island.