At Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga), the male sea Te Moana-a-Rehua (Pacific Ocean) meets the female Te Tai-o-Whitirea (Tasman Sea) in a whirlpool 'like those that dance in the wake of a waka [canoe]'. The meeting of male and female at this spot represents the creation of life.
If you end up in the middle of nowhere in Australia, you'll almost certainly find yourself in dry, red desert. In New Zealand, the middle of nowhere means velvety green grass, rolling hills, and sapphire blue water.
Often mistaken for the northernmost tip of New Zealand, Te Rerenga Wairua, more commonly known as Cape Reinga, is located at the northernmost point of the Aupouri Peninsula, itself a peninsula of the North Auckland Peninsula. The area is significant in native culture; its Maori name means leaping-off place of spirits, while Reinga refers to the underworld. While the sea represented new life, the cape was believed to be the starting point for spirits on their journey to the underworld.
Such stories seem out of place when you stand at the top of Cape on a sunny day and look down. A signposted ramp leads gently downhill to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, a beacon of white against the glittering blue of the oceans.
Cape Reinga lighthouse was built in 1941 due to the rough seas in the area. It was the last manned lighthouse to be built in New Zealand. Lighthouse keepers were withdrawn in 1987 and replaced with an automated light that is now solar powered. The lighthouse remains at Cape Reinga, although it is not open to the public.
The signs marking the distance to other towns and cities are very popular with tourists.
Cape Reinga is approximately 5.5 hours north of Auckland, about 4 hours north of Whangarei, the closest city, and about 1.5 hours north of Kaitaia, the closest town. Drive along the Far North Road until it turns into Cape Reinga Road. The lighthouse and lookout are at the end of Cape Reinga Road, just past the Giant Sand Dunes. It's a scenic country drive that will take you through the countryside and along the northern coastline of New Zealand.
The Waipakakauri Hotel, just outside Kaitaia, is the last pub before the Cape and a warm and welcoming venue for a meal or drink before the drive home. The Te Kao Local Store, approximately half an hour before Cape Reinga, is the last store. There is a BP service station at Awanui, 100 kilometres south, and a service station at Waitiki Landing, about 20 kilometres south, although the latter is a lot more expensive.