Cape Reinga

Monday morning we drove back up to Cape Reinga for the walk out to the Lighthouse and to view the meeting of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.  Once we  reached the carpark we struggled to find parking!

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Finding a parking spot.

If only we had known that John Campbell from Campbell Live was filming here at dawn this morning, we may have made an effort to join him!

The wind was so strong at the Cape, that it took all our strength to stay upright for the walk out to the Lighthouse.  The visitor experience is one of the best we have encountered.  The entrance to the walkway is through a large gateway with beautiful Maori wind instrument music leading you through.

23Mural_thumb[2]Mural at the entrance

The pathway is well sealed and maintained with excellent interpretative signage all along the route which explain everything from Maori legend and significance of the area, through to flora and fauna, geology, and later European discovery. 

28cape_thumbThe start of the walkway looking out to Te Werahi Beach and Cape Maria van Diemen

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A closer view                                  and zoomed in

Cape Maria van Diemen is the western most point of the North Island and named by Abel Tasman in 1643.  It is between Cape Maria van Diemen and Cape Reinga that is the meeting of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean resulting in unsettled waters. 35meeting_thumb40meeting_thumb30lighthouse_thumb43meeting_thumb

The meeting of the seas.

For Māori, Cape Reinga is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand. An ancient Pohutukawa tree and a lighthouse mark this special place.  It is here that after death, all Māori spirits travel up the coast and over the wind-swept vista to the pohutukawa tree on the headland of Te Rerenga Wairua. They descend into the underworld (reinga) by sliding down a root into the sea below. The spirits then travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands where they climb out onto Ohaua, the highest point of the islands and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-A-Nui.

44lighthouse_thumbLighthouse on the left with the headland to the right

33pohutukawa_thumbClose up of the headland….can you see the tree clinging to the cliff face?

32pohutukawa_thumb Said to be well over 800 years old, tradition has it that the tree has only flowered once in all those years.

Onto the Lighthouse, first used in May 1941, the lighthouse was the last watched lighthouse to be built in New Zealand and stands10m in height and 165m above sea level. Originally, Motuopao Island was chosen as the site best suited for the location of a lighthouse.  However, by the beginning of WWII, it was decided that the light was in the wrong location, so in 1941 the glasshouse and light mechanism on top of the lighthouse were removed and re-erected at the new lighthouse settlement at Te Rerenga Wairua.

The Cape Reinga light today is automated, with the last lighthouse keeper being withdrawn in 1987.

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Lighthouse and sign

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