Ready for an adventure to the far north? The Cape Reinga lighthouse is not only the northernmost point in New Zealand, but also an incredibly beautiful place to visit! The rugged tip of Cape Reinga is filled with camping, endless hikes, untouched beaches, and much more. Most of all, no trip to this area would be complete without walking to the famous lighthouse viewpoint!
The Far Drive North to Cape Reinga
The first thing to know about Cape Reinga is that it’s quite a journey from almost anywhere in the country. That means even if you’re starting from somewhere closer like the Bay of Islands, you’re still in for a very long drive.
The winding roads take you up the coast on Route 1 and into the dense forest of the Aupouri Peninsula. Make sure you have a comfortable car for your trip to Cape Reinga.
Cape Reinga Day Trip vs. Overnight
Being that it’s around 6 hours from Auckland, you may want to include Cape Reinga New Zealand in a larger road trip. A day trip is definitely doable from Mangonui which will take you just under 2 hours.
However, there’s also some great Cape Reinga camp sites to stay if you want be closer. We spent the night at the Tapotupotu DOC site which is a quick 20 minute drive from the Cape Reinga lighthouse.
Here we swam in the ocean, watched the sunrise, and even hiked up to an incredible viewpoint overlooking the beach. We highly recommend doing some Cape Reinga camping if you have a van or a tent. Yet, whether you plan a day trip or multi-night visit you’re sure to have a blast!
Cape Reinga Lighthouse Walk
The Cape Reinga Lighthouse is biggest draw to this part of New Zealand, and it’s well worth the trip to see. Just be aware there’s not much cell service and limited parking depending on what time of year you visit.
To give you an idea of how popular it is, we arrived at the Cape Rienga Lighthouse mid-week during off-season… And it was still packed with people!
Whatever the case, the path is plenty wide enough to the lighthouse and should requires about 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll have sweeping views of the famous point and surrounding beaches. Enjoy every moment of the Cape Reinga walk, and take your time on the way down.
Cape Reinga New Zealand History
The importance of Cape Reinga is much deeper than just this lighthouse! The Maori believe this area is sacred, as it’s the meeting point between the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean.
The legend goes that when you die your spirit makes the journey to Cape Reinga to be set free to meet your ancestors. In addition, the Pohutukawa tree on the tip of the peninsula is thought to be over 800 years old!
More Cape Reinga Beaches & Hikes
While most people come for the the lighthouse, there is so many more things to see in Cape Reinga! The Te Paki Coastal Track cuts away from the lighthouse walk and leads you down to an untouched beach.
This is just a small section of the track which is part of a multi-day hike. It’s perfect for an active afternoon where you can swim and bring a picnic for lunch.
The giant Te Paki Sand Dunes are super fun day activity nearby. Here you can take a walk through the shifting dunes and rent boogie boards to fly down them in style.
Also, don’t miss out on 90 Mile Beach. You can drive on the sand if you have the right car, or book a full day Cape Reinga & 90 Mile beach tour from Paihia!
Have any questions or want to share your own experience visiting Cape Reinga? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
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New Zealand Travel Planning
Jucy Van: The best way to explore New Zealand is with a Jucy camper! We spent over six weeks driving around the North and South Islands in a van and loved every moment.
Rental Car: If you’re not renting a van you’ll need a car to get around. We use Discover Cars when traveling and enjoy having the freedom to go everywhere.
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over New Zealand! They have everything from tickets to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves to a Hobbiton movie set tour, and even a Northland hole in the rock dolphin cruise!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for insurance the last few years and they are always there when we need them.