I’m staying in Paihia, the main tourist town in the Bay of Islands and a popular spot for backpackers and travel lovers. The local watering-hole and most popular, and only, nightclub for miles is The Pipi Patch. The sunsets here are pretty special, turning the sky a brilliant shade of bright pink against vibrant blue, reflecting off the water. I’m here with my tour group, it’s the first stop on our 24-day tour with Haka Tours.
Wanting to make the most of my time, I jump on a day trip up to Cape Reinga. The Haka Tour I’m on is going to take me all the way from Paihia, in the North of the North Island, right down to Glenorchy in the south of the South Island, so it makes sense to see as far north as possible. I mean, how many chances am I going to get? Right?! Seize the day and all that.
To be honest, I hadn’t heard of Cape Reinga until the trip came up. Thanks to our amazing day-trip tour guide, from Great Sights New Zealand, I now appreciate this part of the world a whole lot more. So, I wanted to share with you, my favourite photos from my day-trip, to show you what it’s all about in Cape Reinga and, hopefully, inspire you to visit for yourself. It was a really beautiful part of New Zealand and one well-worth adding to your North Island itinerary.
Puketi Kauri Forest
Our day starts here, at the Puketi Kauri Forest. We walk along The Manginangina scenic walk, a boardwalk loop originally built to impress The Queen by showing off a particularly beautiful section of massive Kauri Trees. These incredibly beautiful trees are impossibly huge, most are over 1,000 years old, with huge thick trunks that are said to bring good vibes to anyone who hugs them. I hugged three, just to be sure.
We drive along beautiful winding roads to Cape Reinga. Our guide, Scratch, explains how spiritually important this place is. The Maori believe the spirits of the departing travel here, where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. We walk down to the lighthouse and look out over the ocean. As we’re walking down I feel a bit overwhelmed by how big the ocean is, it’s so vast and never-ending, it makes you realise how small you are.
Cape Maria Van Diemen
We stop for lunch at one of the prettiest, secluded beach spots you’ll ever see. Scratch tells us it’s his favourite camping spot and it’s easy to see why.
Te Paki Stream
The bus goes off-road (somehow) and we find ourselves driving along the Te Paki Stream, alongside these massive sand dunes. All of a sudden it doesn’t look like we’re in New Zealand anymore, but in the Sahara Desert instead. After a safety lesson from Scratch, people start grabbing body-boards and running up to the top of the sand dunes to slide down face-first.
90 Mile Beach
We arrive at 90 Mile Beach, the waves crashing onto the shore like a relentless carpet of water and foam. There are no other people in sight except for our tour group and three guys who seem to by hiking the whole thing! Scratch informs us this will take them three entire days. It’s a beautiful, surreal place. Kind of like something out of a fantasy novel or a sci-fi movie.
The day ends at the local fish and chip shop at Mangonui Harbour. The sun is setting over the mountains, boats gently floating in the water and fluffy clouds passing by toward tomorrow. It has been a very big day and we’ve covered a lot of ground, but we’ve been to the top of New Zealand, learned a lot about Maori culture, folklore and legends, we’ve also learned a lot about the land and the history of New Zealand.
If you find yourself in Paihia, I really recommend you look at doing a day trip up to Cape Reinga. There’s so much to see and do and it really is worth the time and money to do it. Even if you’re in Auckland and you want to do a big road-trip up north, I recommend it. Take a few days to head up to Paihia, visit the Pipi Patch (of course) then jump onto a day tour and see the best parts of New Zealand’s north!
Useful travel resources for your trip to New Zealand
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Agoda – our go-to site for booking hotels
Skyscanner – our go-to for booking flights
RentalCars.com – great search engine for car rentals
Booking.com – another go-to site for booking hotels
TourRadar – great search engine for tours
Uber – our go-to transport option