A few weeks ago I was at the southern most point of New Zealand’s South Island at Slope Point in Catlins region of Southland. A couple of weeks later I made it to the geographical centre of New Zealand at Nelson, which I didn’t know was a significant spot until I got there. So last weekend when I was up in Auckland for work, I decided to make it all the way to the Northern most point of New Zealand to Cape Reinga in the Far North district. And wow !! What a stunner of a drive it is to get there, with the closest ‘big town’ of Awanui only about 100kms.
Getting to Cape Reinga from Auckland can be a bit daunting and on hell of a drive. I had decided to drive after work on a Friday and have a break at the holiday town of Paihia, about 250kms from Auckland. Spending a night and almost half a day here definitely made me feel like I was in a holiday spot. Surely is a lovely little town, no wonder most Aucklanders rave about how pretty it is & how they went to Paihia for the weekend etc. Having seen almost all parts of NZ, for me it wasn’t anything exciting or awesome as such. But yes I know where the JAFAs comes from 🙂 A lot of them don’t drive past Taupo and Tauranga or they fly straight to QTown, when it comes to exploring New Zealand. For them yes Paihia is amazing and that it’s only 2-3hr drive makes it a ‘perfect’ holiday/weekend destination. I wish more Aucklanders explored more of NZ than just the cliche places.
Anyway after Paihia and Waitangi, I drove via Kerikeri (it has it’s own blogpost) through most of the day whilst stopping at all must-go spots etc. I was aiming to be at Cape Reinga for the sunset and my timing couldn’t be any better. On Saturday after all the driving from Paihia, I entered the Cape Reinga road around 4.30pm. It was a good 100+ kms to get to the Cape from Awanui and there was only one fuel station along the way at about the half way mark, not that I needed it but just thought of mentioning it anyway. The last 15-20kms of the drive along the Cape Reinga road, makes it through numerous hills and valleys; as the sun starts to go down each kilometre of this drive only gets better than the previous Km !! And it’s totally worth it…
It’s not until you get to the end of this long drive and enter the car park, that you realise how big of a deal Cape Reinga & this spot is. It surely is the northern most point that you could drive in New Zealand but the Cape Reinga Lighthouse is a good 20-30min walk from there. It’s a downhill walk, so you don’t realise how far it is, with all the excitement of making it to the tip. Its only when you start walking back that it feels like a long way away from the rest of the world haha !! Well before I start walking back I must say that the walkway is amazingly well structured and maintained, like most tourist spots in the country. And when you are about half the way through you can see the light house in the distance and the vast ocean beyond it !! The walkway is as stunning as the drive, if not better. I made it to the light house before the sunset; thankfully for me there weren’t too many tourists and I managed to have the entire place to myself for a good 20-30mins before more people made their way. Not only did I manage to wait until the sun set but also was able to look far far away with some pondering thoughts. What thoughs, you may wonder? The last paragraph says it all 🙂
Surprisingly when the sun was still up, I could at a distance see a couple of islands and wondered what country/island they were. Apparently they were the Three Kings Islands, still very much a part of NZ and I found out that they are actually a group of 13 uninhabited islands measuring approx 7sqkm, about 55 kilometres northwest of Cape Reinga where the South Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea converge. ThreeKings Islands huh !! Who knew?? Until a long time ago I had thought NZ was made of two islands North and the South Islands, along with a couple of tiny islands like Stewart Island, Chatham Island, Waiheke etc etc. But did you know NZ is actually made of 600 islands?? 600 !! Phew things you learn about something or someone that you think you already know off very well !! There’s never a time to not learn anything new at any time and IMO travelling makes you want more of the learning at all times.. Ah at least these were the thoughts that were running in my head as I stared into the disappearing sun at Cape Reinga !!
Video Link of snippet of the drive to Cape Reinga – CLICK HERE