For Māori, Cape Rēinga is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand. An ancient pōhutukawa tree and a lonely 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 pōhutukawa tree on the headland of Te Rerenga Wairua.
They descend into the underworld (rēinga) 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.
~ Department of Conservation
A splinter of land at the country’s northern tip, approximately 100 km long. Its name comes from the local iwi (tribe). It is sometimes known as Te Hiku-o-te-ika-a-Māui, the tail of Māui’s fish. ... The peninsula was once covered in a massive kauri forest. Some 50,000 to 60,000 years ago it was gradually buried beneath peat swamps and encroaching sand dunes.
Ninety Mile Beach
Aupōuri Peninsula’s most dramatic feature, along the western coast. At just 60 miles (96 km) long from Shipwreck Bay to Cape Maria van Diemen, it is misnamed. The beach is a vast arch of fine white sand, backed by immense dunes and broken by rocky outcrops and shallow streams. Known also as Te Oneroa-o-Tōhē (the long beach of Tōhē – an ancestor of Te Aupōuri and other northern people), it is a spectacular way to approach Cape Rēinga.
Cape Rēinga (Te Rerenga Wairua)
Craggy headland 6 km north-east of Cape Maria van Diemen, at the northern tip of the Aupōuri Peninsula. It rises steeply to 290 m above sea level, and is often thought to be the northernmost point of the country. However, North Cape lies about 2 km further north, and beyond that the coast at the foot of the Surville Cliffs is the most northerly point.
The lighthouse at Cape Rēinga holds one of the country’s most powerful lights, visible for some 50 km. The headland itself is the meeting place of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It also has spiritual significance for Māori as the departing place of souls (Te Rerenga Wairua) on their journey to the homeland, Hawaiki.
The spirit trail (te ara wairua) to Cape Rēinga lies along Ninety Mile Beach on the west coast. Starting at Ahipara at the south end of the beach, the departing spirit waits for an outgoing tide before journeying back to Hawaiki. The final plunge into the sea is taken near an underground cave at the cape, where there is a much-photographed Pōhutukawa tree.
~ Te Ara on Aupōuri Peninsula
Getting there ...
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The North and South islands of New Zealand are known respectively as the fish and canoe of the legendary hero Māui. North Island is
Te Ika a Māui (the fish of Māui).