Cape Reinga: Stunning and Spiritual Top of New Zealand

Cape Reinga is a crown jewel, the spiritual and stunning northern tip of New Zealand. For Maori, Cape Reinga is where a person’s spirit comes after death and departs for their eternal home. For visitors, it also offers spectacular ocean views including the impressive coming together of two major bodies of water.

Walking path to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga, the top of the North Island in New Zealand

Walking path to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. It is often the first New Zealand light seen by approaching ships.

The famous lighthouse at Cape Reinga, the top of the North Island in New Zealand

Cape Reinga is frequently identified in tourist books by this famous lighthouse and sign pointing to major destinations around the world.

The northern tip of 90 mile beach at Cape Reinga in New Zealand

Looking to the west: The spit of land in the distance is Cape Maria Van Diemen, the northern tip of 90-Mile beach. The big beach you see is Te Werahi Beach, still in the Tasman Sea.

View from the Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island of New Zealand

View to the east, looking at the Pacific Ocean and Spirits Bay.

The meeting of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean at the top of the North Island of New Zealand

I believe this is one of a few places in the world where you can see two major bodies of water coming together. To the west and separating it from Australia (2000km away) is the Tasman Sea. On the east is the southern Pacific Ocean. The line where they meet is clearly visible at Cape Reinga.

A sparrow on a flax plant in New Zealand

A sparrow on a flax plant.

A lone tree with a spiritual story spotted on the rocks from the walking path to Cape Reinga on the North Island of New Zealand

The rocky point jutting out to sea is the place where the spirits enter the underworld. The spirits descend to the water on steps formed by the ancient Kahika tree clinging to the rock.

The lighthouse and meeting of the seas at Cape Reinga in New Zealand

This was actually our first views of the lighthouse and meeting of the seas.

Practical Information: 

  • While thought of as the most northern point in the country, it isn’t. Surville Cliffs are the actual most Northern point and sit 30km east of Cape Reinga.
  • It takes about 90 minutes to drive the 120km from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga. There is so much to see and do along the way that most people allocate at least a full day, stopping to eat, to swim, to drive on the beach, to sandboard or to walk through the ancient buried forest.
  • Cape Reinga is on sacred grounds and should be left undisturbed. The welcome sign also asks visitors to follow the tikanga (custom) of not eating or drinking while you are here.
  • There are many walking trails from here ranging from the 10-minute walk to the lighthouse to the stunning 3-4 day Te Paki Coastal walk.

Have you been to Cape Reinga? Have you seen anything like the meeting of the seas?

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The famous lighthouse at Cape Reinga, the top of the North Island in New Zealand


This post is also linked to BeThere2Day for Wordless Wednesday on Tuesday, Our World Tuesdays, Wednesdays Around the World at Photographing New Zealand, Travel Tuesdays at Lauren on Location, and Wednesday Wanderlust at My Brown Paper Packages.and Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer.

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Itinerary Options: Driving to the Top of New Zealand


  1. says

    This is gorgeous! I would totally live here if it was allowed (along with millions of others who I’m sure would also like to, which would kinda take the beauty out it). Thanks so much for the wonderful pictures and the explanations of the sea and ocean meeting place. It looks pretty peaceful there at the moment — are there hurricanes or tropical storms often?

  2. says

    Hi Rhonda – amazing lighthouse .. so pristine – love the directional signs too. Gosh what a fantastic place to visit … gorgeous in more ways than one. I love the way the Oceans meet – they have their own personalities … then the reaching out of the left-over land to Cape Maria van Diemen – that’s wonderful. No wonder one needs at least a day to be around and see the sights …

    Glorious – cheers Hilary

  3. says

    What amazing photograph, I love lighthouses but this one is beautiful!!

    Hope to have you join us on our Wonderful Wednesday!!

    Have a great day!
    Oh My Heartsie Girl 🙂

  4. says

    It’s cool how the waters of entire oceans clash with each other at certain points … interesting to hear about Cape Reinga’s spiritual significance as well!

  5. says

    Really lovely photos! Last month, we visited NZ for the first time but focused on the South Island. Hopefully, we’ll get to the north another time. We also visited the southern most tip of mainland Australia (Cape Otway) recently and it’s interesting to think Antarctica is just on the other side of the sea! 😉

    • says

      The South Island is magnificent, and I think has some of the most spectacular scenes in the country. If you don’t have a lot of time to visit, you probably made a good choice. Of course for your next visit, maybe some time for the North Island.

  6. says

    Very clear photographs. Blue skies are my reward for stopping at your site today. Chicagoland area is surrounded by greyness, ice and snow. Thank you for the summer shots.
    JM, Illinois-U.S.A.

  7. says

    Thank you so very much for stopping by & what beautiful beautiful pictures from down under. Sometimes I get caught up in the moment and just look and look and look at all your wonderful pictures and pretend I’m there. Soooooooooo awesome you’re a great photographer you make me feel that I’m actually there with you! HUGS and have a great weekend!

  8. says

    I must admit, I have never been to New Zealand. Thanks for this article with the great photos.
    It is always amazing to the bodies of water coming together. I saw it at Cape Agulhas in South Africa, the southernmost point of the African continent. It marks the boundary between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

  9. says

    Happy New Year! (It’s not too late… right??) Cape Reinga is beautiful, and it really does feel like a spiritually ‘heavy’ place (to me, anyway). Beautiful photos as always – thanks, Rhonda.

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