7 Sep 2014

Cape Reinga, NZ

Philip Avellana, iori, adventscape, Cape Reinga, NZ, New Zealand, Te Paki, national park, lighthouse, landscape, seascape, sunset, north island
Sitting Behind Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga was one of the most recommended places to go if you want to travel at the North Island of New Zealand.  Try to search it over the internet and it's always in the top list.  A friend of ours also recommended us to go here and he's very persuasive.  He has lived in North Island for quite sometime and this is one of the places that he never forgets.  After being in this place, I understand. 

Since Cape Reinga is nearly the north tip of New Zealand, it’s good to see what’s actually in the horizon – or the lack of it.  This place is amazingly beautiful with many places, in it's vicinity, to go into and many vantage points to play around. 



Map Location

The distance from Auckland to Cape Reinga is an astonishing 5 hour and 20 minutes drive (from Google Maps doing 100kph without breaks).  So we decided to break this trip into 2, stopping at Bay of Islands along the way.  Bay of Islands is another beautiful place to get lost to.  From Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga, this becomes a manageable trip of 2 hours and 40 minutes..



View New Zealand North Island Trip 2014 in a larger map

Aside from Cape Reinga, there are also sand dunes along the way and the famous 90 Mile Beach at the western side of the island.  Try to search other places at the Te Paki National Reserve and you might find something to your liking.



Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga is not an easy destination to go into.  Since it's nearly at the tip of the North Island, there's no going around in a circuit, meaning there's no alternative route.  The road you drove into is the same road you'll be coming back.  It stretches out north running under 6 hours drive from Auckland.  I would suggest planning this trip beforehand before deciding to go.  Anyway, there are other places to visit in the area aside from Cape Reinga.

This place is windy.  Being at the north tip of New Zealand, wind movement will always be present (most of the time).  But this place is amazing!  As a photographer, I could do so many compositions in several different places with several different vantage points. 

The car park is huge.  There are even parking spaces for buses.  There is also a toilet nearby.  It’s clean with complete amenities.  I would recommend using the toilet as the walk towards the lighthouse takes time (15 minutes).  It’s usually windy so it’s best to unload.  The pathway towards the lighthouse is wide and safe.  It's wide and cemented.  But if you want to walk the sidetracks, that’s fine as well.  But the sidetracks are not as wide and are not cemented.


Philip Avellana, iori, adventscape, Cape Reinga, NZ, New Zealand, Te Paki, national park, lighthouse, landscape, seascape, sunset, north island
Cape Reinga Lighthouse

Before you walk through the entrance, you'll see a big map.  It's the entire map of the Te Paki Recreational Reserve, which includes Cap Reinga.  It's huge with many places of interest.  We only planned to see Cape Reinga and we're already sold!  If we only have time, we'll definitely add two or three venues in Te Paki Recreational Reserve.

As you walk along the path, there are a few printed plaques that contain information.  You can read some, but I tell you they are many.  You'll see dozens of these.  I just took a photo of some of it.  I read some, but I moved on as the sun is coming down quickly.

As you walk closer and closer to the lighthouse, you'll find some interesting compositions already.  There is a famous rocky area at Cape Reinga that is very familiar if you do a Google search.  The lighthouse itself is positioned strategically such that the slopes of the ravine becomes leading lines.  It's sad that there are so many people at the lighthouse so I could not take a clear shot without them.


Philip Avellana, iori, adventscape, Cape Reinga, NZ, New Zealand, Te Paki, national park, lighthouse, landscape, seascape, sunset, north island, sparse
Vast Reinga

As I was walking towards the lighthouse, I saw a hill at the left side of the walkway.  There is also a signage on the walkway.  I didn't paid too much attention to it but it seems a good spot to take a photo.  It was too windy back then and I was a bit scared that my equipment would be blown away (or my tripod could not handle the fierce wind).  Try walking atop this hill and probably you will get better composition than my photos featured here.

At the end of the path you'll see the lighthouse.  It's like an ordinary lighthouse.  But it's positioned in one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand!  You can do so many photo compositions here.  There is also a post of pointers that give you direction as to where the famous places are directed.  I wish we arrived here a bit earlier to witness the sunset.  We still witnessed it, but we're a bit too late.  The sun is already settling under the horizon.  


Philip Avellana, iori, adventscape, Cape Reinga, NZ, New Zealand, Te Paki, national park, lighthouse, landscape, seascape, sunset, north island, directions, famous places
Life Directions

I see nothing at the horizon.  It's vastness.  Feels like the the sky and the sea are converging.  

We went back to Cape Reinga the next day.  We're planning to do a sunrise shoot thus we went to the nearby unpowered camp site to sleep.  This is called: Tapotupotu Camping Area.  The unpowered camp site is clean with a set of working toilets.  I'd recommend staying here if you want to continue your adventure at Cape Reinga the next day (e.g. sunrise shoot).

But on the next day, it's was windy, foggy and raining.  It was a waste and it was a bad day.  If we only knew that it's going to be rainy, we should have drove away since
yesterday.  It's probably a premonition to go back again to this magnificent place whenever the opportunity arises.


But being at the tip (almost) of the North Island of New Zealand will challenge the driver and it's passengers.  This is a long drive from Auckland and it's nearby tourist location.  Like I said earlier, I would rather break this trip into 2 parts so that driving isn't boring.  For me I'll do:
  • Auckland - Bay of Island - Cape Reinga
  • Cape Reinga - 90 Mile Beach - Auckland
This depends entirely on the group.  But it's better to break it up in two different locations rather than driving straight from Auckland to Cape Reinga (or vice versa).  This way, you can a rest and enjoy the other sceneries that comes along the way.


Philip Avellana, iori, adventscape, Cape Reinga, NZ, New Zealand, Te Paki, national park, lighthouse, landscape, seascape, sunset, north island
Guide to Landfall



Final Thoughts


Cape Reinga is amazing.  No wonder a friend of mine, who had been there, urged us to go and see this place.  The photos I took (and those in the internet) doesn't do justice.  This is a place where you can feel it's magic by being there.  

My friend told me that there are still other activities that can be done at Cape Reinga.  There are walks and other vantage points worthy to be visited but we don't have time that day.  The next day we got rain.  So probably next time.... hopefully.

Given the time and opportunity, I would like to go back here again and explore this place even further.  There are many things to see and do.  There are many photographic compositions to take.  Cape Reinga is just a part of the Te Paki Recreational Reserve - thus there are other places to visit.



Philip Avellana, iori, adventscape, Cape Reinga, NZ, New Zealand, Te Paki, national park, lighthouse, landscape, seascape, sunset, north island, direction
Life Directions

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